Marijuana addictions symptoms vary based on the age of the person using marijuana as well as the amount they use.
In the early 60’s the type of marijuana smoked was far less potent than marijuana that is consumed today. According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), “Marijuana potency, as detected in confiscated samples, has steadily increased over the past few decades. They go one to explain that from 1990s, the average THC content (Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol the active ingredient in marijuana that causes intoxication) in confiscated marijuana samples was roughly 3.7 percent.
In 2014, it was 6.1 percent. Also, newly popular methods of smoking or eating THC-rich hash oil extracted from the marijuana plant (a practice called dabbing) may deliver very high levels of THC to the person. The average marijuana extract contains more than 50 percent THC, with some samples exceeding 80 percent. These trends raise concerns that the consequences of marijuana use could be worse than in the past, particularly among those who are new to marijuana use or in young people, whose brains are still developing.
In short – the marijuana being consumed today is far more powerful and addictive than what was being used in the 1960s.
Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent studies indicate that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. It gets worse for teens: people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.
Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence—in which a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. People who use marijuana frequently often report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or other symptoms that occur within the first week after quitting and often last up to 2 weeks. Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. This is why some users say over time it they have to consume (smoke, or edibles) more marijuana to maintain the same “high” or level of intoxication.
Marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life. Estimates of the number of people addicted to marijuana are controversial, in part because studies of marijuana use often use dependence as a proxy for addiction even though it is possible to be dependent without being addicted. Those studies suggest that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This number rises to about 17 percent in those who start using in their teenage years.
In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States used or were dependent on marijuana; 138,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their marijuana use.