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Warning Signs of Marijuana Abuse

Are you concerned that someone you know may be abusing marijuana? If you are, there are warning signs that you can look for in order to tell if someone is abusing the drug.

Physical Signs of Marijuana Abuse

One of the most obvious physical signs of marijuana abuse is that the user, when intoxicated by the drug, will have “red, bloodshot eyes” (NIH). This occurs because the THC in marijuana dilates the blood vessels and causes blood flow to increase throughout the body. The larger arteries in the eyes create the bloodshot look. If someone you know constantly has this red, bloodshot look to their eyes, there is a possibility that they are abusing marijuana.

Those who abuse marijuana also may exhibit other physical signs, including:

  • Being hungry all the time
    • Marijuana can cause a person to be hungry or eat constantly.
  • Smelling like marijuana smoke
    • The NIH states, “When someone smokes marijuana, they often smell like it afterwards.” The smoke smells sweeter than cigarette smoke.
  • “Increased heart rate” (UDHHS)
  • Sleepiness
    • This usually occurs after the earlier effects fade.
  • “Loss of coordination”
  • Perception problems
  • Dizziness

Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Abuse

marijuana addiction

A person who is high on marijuana may be drowsy, have red eyes, and have slowed reaction time.

People who abuse marijuana may behave strangely, whether they are intoxicated by the drug or not. When a person is currently intoxicated by marijuana, they may:

  • “Seem silly and giggly for no reason” (UDHHS)
  • Have issues with memory or forget things, even if they just happened
  • Become anxious or even paranoid

These signs all point to current marijuana abuse. Someone who seems giggly one minute and then sleepy or anxious the next is more than likely under the influence of a drug. Paired with the signs above, the person is probably smoking marijuana. These are not the only behavioral signs of marijuana abuse. If someone you know is:

  • Irritable and unwilling to talk when you bring up their possible abuse of marijuana
  • Hiding marijuana and marijuana use from others
  • Only spending time with other people who abuse marijuana
  • Doing poorly in school or work or having problems in their life because of marijuana
  • Exhibiting poor judgement as “marijuana can affect decision-making” (NIDA Teen)
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to smoke more of the drug
    • These withdrawal symptoms include:
      • Depression
      • Irritability
      • Anxiousness
      • Decrease in appetite
      • Restlessness
      • Insomnia

then that person is more than likely abusing the drug. There are many warning signs which point to this behavior, and further help may be needed if someone you know is abusing marijuana.

What to Do if Your Loved One is Abusing Marijuana

If someone you know is abusing marijuana and you are concerned:

  • Talk to them. This is often the most important and most helpful thing you can do. If the person has not realized that marijuana is becoming a problem in their life, talking to them rationally and calmly could make a lot of difference.
  • Suggest that they consider how much they actually smoke and whether or not they think it’s helping or hurting them.
  • Ask them to consider treatment, if it is necessary. Marijuana addiction usually only occurs in those who smoke heavily or who started when they were teenagers, but it can be hard to stop smoking even for a recreational user.

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