The Drug Class Blog

Dec 15

Cannabis Use Disorder

Thanks to Lauren Kunis from the Stonewall Institute for the article.

Telltale Signs of Cannabis Use Disorder

As marijuana use becomes increasingly mainstream, consumption and abuse of marijuana are also on the rise. To date, 11 states have legalized its use for medicinal or recreational purposes. Several states are also likely to follow suit.

In Canada Rereational Cannabis has been legal nationally since October of 2018

However, despite its increasing legalization and prevalence, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug (alongside LSD and heroin) by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration due to its high potential for abuse.

Federally, marijuana is still considered illegal and based on the research done on substance abuse disorders, it is still deemed potentially dangerous. If abused, marijuana disorders can cause mood and sleep difficulties, irritability, and physical discomfort. And that’s just for starters.

When cannabis dependence escalates to cannabis use disorder (CUD), cannabis rehab may be required to treat the condition. While the overall rate of CUD (also known as marijuana addiction) has remained low, some experts wonder about its impact on addiction rates.

Cannabis Use Disorder in a Nutshell

The following symptoms observed within a 12-month period often indicates cannabis use disorder:

  • Taking more marijuana than originally intended

  • Spending a significant amount of time on cannabis use

  • Craving cannabis 

  • Problems at home, school, or work as a result of cannabis use

  • Minimizing or giving up usual activities in favor of cannabis

  • Taking cannabis even in high-risk situations

  • Tolerance to cannabis

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when cannabis use is discontinued

  • Continued cannabis use despite relationship or social problems

  • Continued cannabis use despite psychological or physical problems


CUD is classified as mild (2-3 symptoms present), moderate (4-5 symptoms present), or severe (6 or more symptoms present). 

Cannabis Use Disorder Symptoms

Cannabis dependence occurs when the brain minimizes the production of the cannabinoid neurotransmitters because of marijuana use. Behavioral and physical changes that point to cannabis use disorder include:

  • Dry mouth

  • Hunger

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Red, blurry eyes

  • Slow reaction time 

  • Constant cough with mucus

  • Distorted perceptions

  • Memory learning and difficulties

  • Impaired coordination

  • Difficulty in thinking and problem-solving

Cannabis Use Disorder Side Effects

Cannabis use disorder also has undesired secondary consequences, including:

  • Marijuana addicts are more susceptible to accidents when high. When intoxicated, cannabis addicts can end up in emergency rooms for injuries. 

  • CUD can strain relationships. Marijuana addicts often find it extremely hard to maintain a healthy relationship with friends and family because of their addiction. 

  • If still illegal in the state they are in, marijuana use may also lead to arrest, divorce, and other legal troubles.

Cannabis Use Withdrawal and Treatment

Just like alcohol and drug treatment given to alcohol and drug dependents, people who abuse marijuana will also require treatment. If you have been struggling with cannabis use disorder for an extended period, stopping on your own can be very difficult.

Fortunately, a doctor or addiction specialist will be able to provide expert advice about a suitable rehabilitation facility depending on your level of dependence. Seeking rehab treatment is considered the most effective way to deal with cannabis use disorder.

Typically, the first stage of treatment is marijuana detoxification. During the detoxification stage, patients will go through withdrawal to purge all the remaining traces of marijuana from their systems.

Withdrawal can be a very uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. That said, it would be best to get help from the right medical facilities guided by seasoned and qualified physicians. After detox, rehab admittance is often the next step.


Regardless if it's for medicinal or recreational purposes, cannabis use should be done in moderation. If not managed accordingly, it can turn into an addiction. Cannabis addiction can have very unpleasant side effects and can impact every aspect of your life significantly. Fortunately, rehabilitation centers can guide you along the way until you get rid of the cannabis use disorder for good.

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