Marijuana: When is it Too Much?
It is hard to know when you have crossed the invisible line between using substances to have fun and addiction. This is especially hard for people who are using things that are legal or socially acceptable. When thinking about the line between addiction and recreation for marijuana people often point to alcohol as an example. People might say, would you tell someone who comes home from work and has one drink an alcoholic? Well, would you be concerned about someone who smokes a small joint every night after work? Of course it is not always fair these kind of comparisons but we can use the model of alcohol to help us understand where marijuana use becomes problematic.
Before jumping into how much weed is too much, we want to mention that there does come a point when you need help. If you need marijuana addiction treatment there are places you can go that have quality care. There are even now treatment centers who have specific programs for people recovering from marijuana abuse.
Warning Signs of Marijuana Addiction
The technical name for marijuana addiction is cannabis use disorder. The DSM-5 lays out a number of symptoms for this disorder. Here are some of the symptoms listed:
- Cannabis is taken in larger amounts over a longer period of time than intended.
- There is a persistant desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use it, or recover from its effects.
- Strong cravings to use cannabis
- Continue to use cannabis despite it resulting in a failure to meet obligations at school, work, or home.
- Using cannabis in situations where it is physically dangerous.
- Using cannabis despite negative psychological or physical consequences.
- Needing more cannabis in order to achieve the desired effect.
- Having symptoms of withdrawal when use is discontinued.
Now that we know some of the symptoms of marijuana addiction, we can start to look at how much marijuana use is too much.
When You’re Using Daily
When you start using a substance every day, it can become problematic. There are many people who drink a small amount every day and it is never a big problem. But, research has shown that using alcohol every day for just three weeks can lead to dependence. The same is most likely true for marijuana. Although it might not have a huge negative impact on your life, using cannabis every day will most likely cause you do be dependent on the drug.
I like to think about it like this. Imagine that you ate pizza once a month for a year. You probably would not gain too much weight, assuming that you are a healthy diet otherwise. But now imagine that you ate pizza once a week. Well, you might start putting on a few pounds if you are binging on unhealthy food every week. But imagine it does further and now you are eating pizza every single day. You are going to start packing on the pounds.
The same is true with drugs. If you do them occasionally you probably aren’t going to do too much damage. However, if you start using them every day there are going to be consequences. These consequences might be invisible. But non the less they are there. Your body will start to need the substance in order to feel relaxed. If you try not to use your body will crave it and you will likely feel anxious and uncomfortable. You can read more about how cannabis effects your body and brain at DrugAbuse.gov.
When Use has Social Consequences
If you are having social consequences from marijuana use, you are probably using too much. Some social consequences might be problems with friends or family because of your use. For example, someone might tell you they think your use is problematic, or someone else might not want to be around you when your high. If this starts happening, it is a good indication that you are using too much.
Other social consequences include problems at work, school, or even problems with the law. When your boss starts noticing that you are especially tired in the morning because you still feel groggy from smoking the night before that is not a great sign. Likewise, if you have run ins with law enforcement that are related to drug use that means you are probably using too much.
When you have Trouble Stopping
The best way to find out if you are using too much of anything is to try stopping. If your immediate response to this suggestion is to stop reading and disregard this whole post, it might be because you know you can’t stop or you really don’t want to. Either of those reasons should indicate to you that something is wrong.
If you have trouble not using you are probably using too much marijuana. Try to quit for a certain period of time and see how it goes. Its a bad sign if you start to feel symptoms of withdrawal, you find yourself relapsing, or you go one day and give up because it’s too hard. Any of these tings should tell you that the way you are using has become problematic.
It is important to mention that there are people who use cannabis without using it daily, have no social consequences, and have no problem stopping. This is completely possible for some people! But for others, they cross that invisible line and end up needing help. Again, if you need help for marijuana addiction there are many places you can reach out to. You do not need to do it on your own.