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Cannabis Abuse


Cannabis (marijuana) abuse is a pattern of use that causes physical or mental problems. Cannabis can make you feel high, happy, or excited. The effects may start right away and last for 3 to 4 hours depending on whether you smoke or eat cannabis.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • The effects of cannabis have worn off, and you have shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, or chest pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot fight the urge to use cannabis.
  • You have stopped using cannabis, and feel that you cannot cope with your withdrawal symptoms.
  • You want help or more information on how to decrease or stop using cannabis.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Signs of cannabis abuse:

  • Use prevents you from functioning at work or school, or causes you to be absent often or to do poor work
  • Use when it is dangerous to be under the effects of the drug, such as when you are driving a vehicle or using machinery
  • Problems with the police when you are under the effects of cannabis
  • Continuing to use cannabis even when you argue with your family and friends about your use
  • More cannabis is needed to give you the high feeling or other effects that you want
  • Withdrawal symptoms after you stop using cannabis

How cannabis affects your baby:

Cannabis can affect your baby if you use it while you are pregnant. Cannabis use may keep your unborn baby from growing as fast as he or she should. It may harm your unborn baby's eyes and nervous system. When your baby gets older, he or she may have difficulty in school and with solving problems. He or she may also have a poor memory, or problems focusing or paying attention. Your child may be impulsive (reacting without thinking first). He or she may be at an increased risk for depression. He or she may have a higher risk of smoking cigarettes and using cannabis as an adult.

Signs of cannabis withdrawal:

Cannabis withdrawal happens when you have used cannabis for a long period of time, and you suddenly take less or stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms may start on the first day and may last up to 2 weeks. You may have more than one of the following:

  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Night sweats and trouble sleeping
  • Craving for cannabis
  • Irritability
  • Feeling agitated, anxious, or restless
  • Depressed or negative mood


Drug treatment or therapy is often used to treat cannabis abuse. You may need to stay in a treatment facility, or you may have outpatient therapy sessions. Therapy can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group with others. This can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. The goal is to help you decrease or stop cannabis abuse in manageable steps. Your healthcare provider can give you more information about available drug and therapy treatments.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For more information:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5213
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9561
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-1124
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cannabis Abuse (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

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