Cannabis Use Disorder: 10 Things You Need To Know

We've all seen the black-and-white "Reefer Madness" style anti-marijuana films that portrayed the most extreme consequences of the drug. Perhaps, even over-exaggerating its downfalls. In today's society, however, cannabis use has become fairly mainstream. In several states across the United States, marijuana has been approved for medical use and in some cases even legalized for recreational use. Due to its seemingly harmless effects, over time cannabis use has somewhat shed the negative connotations that were once associated it. However, like most narcotics, cannabis use does have its potential side effects. One of these potential side effects is cannabis use disorder. But, what exactly is cannabis use disorder? What are the signs and symptoms of the disorder?

What Is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Man Holding Cannabis

Cannabis use disorder is characterized by excessive cannabis use and the continued use of cannabis despite it causing problems in your life. While most believe marijuana is non-addictive, individuals with cannabis use disorder can develop a tolerance due to the excessive amount of the drug being used. Individuals suffering from this disorder will often put marijuana above other important things in their lives. Although not harmful to the physical body itself, cannabis use disorder can be harmful to the quality of life. Not only for the individual suffering from it, but for those close to them as well. Marijuana use is on the rise and this disorder is becoming more prevalent in society. But, how exactly is cannabis use disorder diagnosed?

What Criteria Needs to Be Met to Be Diagnosed with Cannabis Use Disorder?

Although commonly self-diagnosed, cannabis use disorder does require professional care. Self-diagnosis of the disorder is often inaccurate and requires an assessment from a certified practitioner trained in evidence-based treatment and psychiatric care. If no professionals are available for individuals suffering from the disorder, free self-diagnosis resources can be found online for such instances. The criteria needed to meet actual diagnosis by a qualified practitioner. Listed below is examples of such required criteria:

  • Individuals who have abused cannabis in the last 5 years
  • Individuals who use more of the drug than intended
  • Individuals who use cannabis in high-risk situations
  • Social and financial situations become less important than cannabis use
  • Individuals who have developed a tolerance to marijuana
  • Individuals who have developed a physical withdrawal to cannabis

10 Things You Should Know about the Signs, Symptoms & Treatment of Cannabis Use Disorder

1. Excessive and Habitual Use

2. Tolerance

3. Cannabis Over Everything Else

4. Physical Complications of Long-Term Cannabis Use

5. Mental Complications of Long-Term Cannabis Use

6. Cannabis Withdrawal

7. Pre-Existing Psychological Conditions

8. Effective Treatments

9. Ineffective Treatments

10. Self-help

Moving Forward

Although cannabis is considered a "soft drug" and relatively harmless, excessive cannabis use and the building of a tolerance to cannabis can lead to cannabis use disorder. More awareness needs to be raised in the study of the psychiatric short and long-term effects this disorder can trigger. This is a side to habitual and excessive cannabis use that is still widely unknown, and can have more impacts on society due to the easier and legal access now available to the drug.

It is imperative that if an individual decides to use legal marijuana for pleasure or for medical reasons that they use it in a regulated and responsible manner. It's also important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in the case of cannabis. Cannabis has shown to improve the lives of those who have a need for it, but it is vital to know that it isn't completely harmless either. Most recreational users never become addicted, but cannabis use disorder is on the rise.

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