Cannabis use disorder - 5 common warning signs

Published Apr 23, 2019 10:30 a.m. ET
Warning signs to look out for if you or someone you love may be consuming too much THC (Photo Credit Patrick Doyle)

Now that legal marijuana is making waves and finding its way to regions once thought impossible in the form of a recreational and controlled substance, there are a few concerns about those who might end up using too much cannabis. Over consumption is a scientifically documented field that proves even the most natural and beneficial products should generally be taken in moderation. Some of these adverse effects were deemed so detrimental to user’s that there is now an official diagnosis for it, It’s called cannabis use disorder, and is a medical condition that has some pretty glaring warning signs if you know what to look for.

What is cannabis use disorder?

This diagnosis is somewhat of a broad term that includes detrimental behaviors including:

  • A strong need to consume cannabis.
  • Trouble with controlling daily THC intake.
  • Continuing use despite negative reactions or consequences.
  • Priority is given to cannabis use over eating, sleeping, exercise, paying bills, and other daily responsibilities.
  • Heightened tolerance to THC.
  • Increased daily cannabis intake.
  • Experiencing weed withdrawal when cannabis or THC products are not readily accessible.

There are a few other requirements that are looked at before a patient is diagnosed with this mental condition which includes:

  • Impairment at work, when driving, and while performing other tasks that cannabis use negatively impacts.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation from society.
  • Behaving in an intoxicated manner.
  • Acts impulsively, dangerously, or irresponsibly.
  • History of any child or spousal neglect.
  • Impaired motor coordination and function.
  • Experiencing paranoia or anxious episodes.
  • Displaying schizophrenia-related symptoms.
  • Inability to focus or pay attention.
  • Memory and cognition disturbances.
  • Excessive sleeping.
  • Denial of dependency or addiction.

Signs of too much THC consumption

Even experts that are equipped with all of the latest facts can have a hard time diagnosing patients because they aren’t the ones exposed to their daily activities. It is typical to spend at most thirty minutes to one hour with a doctor discussing this kind of problem, which just isn’t enough to go on by itself. There are a few things that you can watch out for in your friends, children, family members, coworkers, and anyone else you may spend a lot of time with that might point to an over consumption issue that should be addressed immediately.

  1. No longer wants to go out- If you notice that someone close to you no longer wants to hit the clubs, come out for dinner, or even really talk on the phone anymore, and there are no other logical reasons that might induce such a change, than that might be an indicator of a cannabis dependence.
  2. Starts losing weight- People tend to have a budget to work within, and a lot of the time we make sacrifices to obtain the things we feel are most important. It is not uncommon for a person with a cannabis dependence to begin to lose weight as they start to funnel more money into their habits which come out of the food budget.
  3. Calls in sick a lot- We spend a lot of time with our coworkers, so it is crucial that we recognize when someone so close by might be dependent on cannabis. If you notice that someone who used to always be on time is suddenly late every day or is calling in sick to the point of losing their job, it might be time to try to intervene.
  4. Erratic driving or functioning of heavy-duty equipment- This is one of the best ways to judge the level of a person’s impairment. If you notice a person who is generally very skilled at working a forklift, or some other motorized piece of equipment is fumbling a lot, then that points to a possible impaired state that may be due to excessive cannabis use.

These symptoms are things that should be looked for in people who you know are using cannabis, as there are many other pharmaceutical medications that are prescribed and bought on the street, and alcohol which may also have similar effects. You should never assume or intervene if someone displays one of these symptoms and you are unaware of their history or cannabis use unless their behavior is a danger to themselves or others. In which case you might report it to your boss, or whoever is responsible for the place that you are interacting with said individual. Even if you do know the person well, and firmly believe that their cannabis use is an issue, it is critical to tread lightly and respectfully while offering support and advice whenever possible.

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