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Cannabis Use Disorder

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is cannabis (marijuana) use disorder (CUD)?

CUD is a medical condition that develops from long-term use or misuse of cannabis. You are not able to stop even though it causes physical or social problems. CUD is also called cannabis abuse.

What are the signs and symptoms of CUD?

Signs and symptoms include at least 2 of the following in a 12-month period:

  • You misuse a prescription for medical cannabis. Examples of misuse include taking more than prescribed or taking it longer than recommended. Another example is taking it for a different reason than prescribed. Your prescription may be for pain relief, but you take it because it makes you feel good.
  • You have a strong urge or craving for cannabis. This is also called addiction. You are not able to control when you use it or how much you use. You spend large amounts of time trying to get, use, or recover from cannabis. In between uses, you think about when you will get cannabis again.
  • You become tolerant to cannabis. This means the amount you have been taking no longer has the effects you want. You need higher amounts to feel the effects.
  • You become dependent on cannabis. Dependence means your body becomes used to cannabis. Cannabis withdrawal happens when you have used cannabis for a long period of time and suddenly stop. Withdrawal symptoms may start on the first day and last up to 2 weeks. Withdrawal can cause problems such as loss of appetite or weight loss, trouble sleeping, or depression.
  • You are not able to stop, or to use less. You start again when you try to quit. You try to use lower amounts or to use it less often, but you are not able.
  • You use cannabis even though it causes problems or is dangerous. For example, you drive even though cannabis makes you drowsy or have trouble concentrating. You try to make the effect stronger by mixing it with alcohol, medicines, or drugs. You have problems at school, work. You spend less time doing important or enjoyable activities.

How is CUD diagnosed and treated?

Urine tests may be used to check the level of cannabis in your system. Healthcare providers can help you make decisions about treatment programs. Treatment may be offered in a hospital, outpatient facility, or drug rehabilitation center. The goal is to help you decrease or stop using cannabis.

  • Medicines may be given to help you stay calm or manage depression.
  • A detox program includes medicine and treatment to reduce withdrawal symptoms and anxiety when you stop using cannabis. You will be in the hospital with close monitoring and care.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by CUD. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group with others.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy can help you set and reach healthy, positive goals.
  • Twelve-step facilitation (TSF) is a short, structured approach to reach early recovery. It is done one-to-one with a therapist in 12 to 15 sessions.

What are safety guidelines to follow?

  • Do not mix cannabis with medicines, drugs, or alcohol. The combination can cause an overdose, or cause you to stop breathing.
  • Do not use cannabis if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Cannabis stays in fat cells and can be transferred slowly to your baby over a long period of time. Cannabis can affect your baby's growth and development.
  • Keep cannabis out of the reach of children. Store it in a locked cabinet or in a location that children cannot get to.
    Common Childproofing Latches

Where can I find more information?

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Web Address: http://www.samhsa.gov
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5213
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9561
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-1124
    Web Address: www.nida.nih.gov

When should I call my doctor?

  • You want help or more information on how to decrease or stop using cannabis.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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