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How To Recognize Marijuana Use

Have you ever found yourself worrying about a loved one and their recent behavior changes? You’re not alone. Recognizing the symptoms of marijuana use can be the first step in supporting someone through their journey to recovery. At Boardwalk Recovery, we believe in providing compassionate guidance and comprehensive information to help families navigate these challenging times.

Physical Symptoms: The First Clues

When attempting to identify marijuana use, physical symptoms often offer the initial hints that something might be amiss. Among the most noticeable are red, bloodshot eyes, a classic hallmark that can result from the smoke irritating the eyes or from the effects of THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) on blood vessels. Another common indicator is a noticeable increase in appetite, often colloquially referred to as the “munchies.” This surge in hunger can lead individuals to consume food in larger quantities or more frequently than usual.

Additionally, marijuana use can leave a distinctive, lingering odor on clothing, hair, and personal belongings. This smell is often described as skunky or earthy and can be a strong indicator of recent use. Beyond these, users might also exhibit dry mouth or increased thirst, another side effect of THC that can be quite pronounced.

Slow reaction times and impaired coordination are other physical symptoms to be aware of. These can affect an individual’s ability to perform tasks that require fine motor skills or quick reflexes, such as driving a car or operating machinery. Finally, an often-overlooked symptom is changes in sleep patterns. While some users report using marijuana to help with insomnia, it can also lead to disturbed sleep cycles, including difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.

Behavioral Changes: Beyond the Physical

In addition to the physical signs, marijuana use can significantly alter an individual’s behavior and emotional state. Beyond the increased secrecy and sudden mood swings previously mentioned, there are several more nuanced shifts that may become evident. A once vibrant and outgoing person might suddenly seem withdrawn or isolated, preferring solitude over social interactions. This shift can be particularly alarming when it leads to neglecting relationships or responsibilities.

Lack of motivation, also known as amotivational syndrome, is another critical sign. This is not just about feeling lazy; it’s a notable decrease in the drive or ambition to achieve goals, whether they’re related to school, work, or personal projects. The joy and satisfaction that once came from these activities diminish, replaced by an indifference that can derail an individual’s future.

Changes in friendship circles can also signal marijuana use. An individual might abandon long-standing relationships in favor of new ones that revolve around substance use. This shift often accompanies a change in hobbies or interests, especially if they start to exclude activities that were once enjoyable and don’t involve marijuana use.

Financial issues may emerge as spending habits change to accommodate the purchase of marijuana. This can lead to unexplained shortages of money, borrowing money without a clear reason, or even stealing.

Furthermore, a noticeable decline in academic or professional performance is a common side effect of regular marijuana use. Missed deadlines, dropping grades, or decreased productivity at work can all result from the cognitive impacts of marijuana, such as impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, and slowed thought processes.

Cognitive Effects: A Hidden Concern

The cognitive effects of marijuana use extend far beyond the immediate aftermath of consumption, affecting cognitive functions in ways that can be subtle yet profound. Difficulty in concentrating and short-term memory loss are among the most noticeable impacts, but the spectrum of cognitive alterations is broader and warrants a deeper understanding.

Altered time perception is a hallmark cognitive effect of marijuana use, where users might experience time as passing more slowly. This distortion can disrupt one’s ability to manage time effectively, affecting both personal and professional responsibilities.

Further compounding these issues are the potential for impaired learning abilities. THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, can affect the brain areas responsible for learning and memory formation. This impact is particularly concerning for young users, whose brains are still developing, as it could lead to long-term deficits in cognitive function.

Decision-making and judgment are also compromised, with users often taking risks they would typically avoid when sober. This can lead to behaviors that might have serious repercussions, including engaging in unsafe sexual activities, driving under the influence, or making poor social or financial decisions.

Moreover, marijuana’s impact on cognition can exacerbate mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. While some users report temporary relief from these conditions, the overall effect can be an increase in symptoms over time, particularly with regular use.

Verbal fluency and the ability to solve complex problems can also diminish. Users might find it harder to find the right words during conversations or struggle with tasks that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Social Implications: The Ripple Effect

The social implications of marijuana use create a ripple effect that touches every aspect of an individual’s life, extending its reach to those around them. The nuances of these social changes are critical to understanding for anyone looking to support a loved one through recovery.

Friendships may undergo significant strain or transformation. As previously mentioned, individuals might drift away from long-standing relationships to form new ones centered around marijuana use. This shift often leads to a supportive environment for substance use, further entrenching the behavior. The loss of non-using friends can isolate the user, limiting their exposure to perspectives and activities that do not involve drugs.

Family relationships are particularly vulnerable. Marijuana use can introduce secrecy and dishonesty into family dynamics, eroding trust and communication. Parents, siblings, and extended family members might feel helpless or confused about how to address the situation, leading to conflict or, conversely, avoidance of the issue altogether. The emotional toll on families can be significant, with each member affected differently by the stress, worry, and uncertainty that come with watching a loved one struggle with substance use.

In the workplace, the effects of marijuana use can manifest as decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and a higher risk of accidents or errors. This not only jeopardizes the individual’s career prospects but can also affect the morale and productivity of their colleagues. Professional relationships may suffer as coworkers and supervisors lose trust in the individual’s reliability and competence.

Academic performance can also decline, affecting students in both high school and higher education. Difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and a lack of motivation can lead to falling grades, missed classes, and diminished interest in academic and extracurricular activities. This can have long-term consequences on educational outcomes and future opportunities.

Your Path to Support With Boardwalk Recovery

If you recognize these symptoms in someone you care about, Boardwalk Recovery is here to help. Our team of experts provides personalized treatment plans designed to support individuals in their recovery journey. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you and your loved ones.


Yes, prolonged marijuana use has been linked to various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and in some cases, psychosis.

No, the effects can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the amount used, the method of consumption, and individual susceptibility.

Approach the conversation with empathy and concern, avoiding judgment. Express your observations and feelings, and offer your support and resources for help.

Absolutely. With the right support and treatment plan, individuals can recover from marijuana dependence and lead a healthy, fulfilling life.

Boardwalk Recovery offers a range of services, including counseling, therapy, and personalized treatment programs, to support individuals in overcoming substance use and achieving long-term recovery.

In crafting this article, personal and relatable language was used to directly address the reader, ensuring an SEO-optimized, informative, and compassionate resource for those concerned about marijuana use.


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