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Marijuana Addiction and Treatment

Marijuana is one of the world’s most commonly abused drugs. Learn about Marijuana abuse and addiction, as well as treatment for marijuana addiction.

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What is Marijuana

Marijuana is a psychoactive and popular drug derived from the cannabis plant. It is used for its psychoactive effects. Marijuana is dried out and then smoked or used as an ingredient in baked goods. Whether smoked or ingested, marijuana produces the same effects.

Although strictly regulated, marijuana is legal in many states. Due to this and its widespread societal acceptance, marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. 

Street names for marijuana include weed, mary-jane, pot, dope, ganja, grass, and reefer.

How Does Weed Affect the Brain

The main psychoactive compound in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC induces the effects experienced after smoking or ingesting cannabis. It is also responsible for its potential for addiction.

The effect of THC varies, depending on the individual. The effects will also vary based on whether marijuana is smoked or ingested and the marijuana strain used.

Common effects of marijuana include:
  • Mild euphoria
  • Altered perception and hallucinations
  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings of calm and drowsiness

Is Marijuana Addictive

Yes, marijuana is addictive. However, due to its legalization, there is a dangerous misconception that marijuana is not addictive. Another harmful result of its legalization is the development of new strains of marijuana that contain higher and more potent concentrations of THC.

Many addiction specialists believe that these higher THC potencies increase the risk of addiction.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction often manifests itself psychologically more so than physically. However, as with addiction to any drug, signs of marijuana addiction become more apparent with the user’s prolonged abuse of the substance.

Physical Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Physical symptoms to look for if you suspect your loved one is battling with marijuana dependence include:

  • Chronically bloodshot eyes
  • Appetite changes resulting in noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Failure to care about physical appearance, presenting in a sloppy manner
  • Strange smells on the individual’s breath, body, or clothes
  • Marijuana withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, stomach pain, appetite loss, shaking, sweating, fever, chills, or headache
  • Fatigue and drowsiness, resulting in the user sleeping more than usual

Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Addiction

The behavioral symptoms may not be as apparent at first. However, keep an eye out for: 

  • Lying about or hiding marijuana use
  • Engaging in suspicious behavior or keeping secrets
  • Lack of motivation for activities that once brought that joy
  • Shirking obligations and avoiding responsibilities
  • Lack of motivation and ambition
  • Struggling with financial or legal problems related to their habit 
  • Spending all their time smoking or thinking about how to procure marijuana 

Who Abuses Marijuana

Marijuana is the most frequently used psychotropic drug in the United States after alcohol. Studies show that more than 11.8 million adults admitted to using marijuana in the past year.

Worryingly, marijuana is popular with kids as young as middle schoolers. A 2019 Monitoring the Future survey revealed that 11.8% of 8th graders reported marijuana use in the last year, with 6.6% currently using. Of the 10th graders surveyed, a staggering 28.8% used it in the past year, and 18.4% were current users.

This is particularly concerning when considering that marijuana is commonly seen as a gateway drug to the use of other, more harmful drugs.

Side-Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana use can cause many unpleasant side-effects, such as:

  • Slowed or altered senses
  • Decreased or changed the perception of time
  • Mood changes
  • Slowed bodily movements
  • Impaired motor coordination 
  • Stimulated appetite
  • Dry mouth 
  • Red, bloodshot eyes 

People who smoke or ingest marijuana strains with high concentrations of THC can face psychologically damaging short-term effects such as: 

  • Hallucinations 
  • Delusions 
  • Paranoia 
  • Psychosis 

These side-effects can result in accidents that lead to emergency room visits.

Long-Term Side-Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Habitual users of marijuana face the risk of a range of physical, psychological, and cognitive effects. Adolescent abusers open up the increased potential for brain development alterations. They also may drop out of school and display lower IQ scores. 

Other undesirable symptoms of marijuana abuse include: 
  • Poor memory 
  • Increased risk of psychoses or an amplified experience of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia
  • Respiratory issues such as massive airway inflammation and symptoms of chronic bronchitis
  • Child-bearing users could experience difficulties with child development both during and after pregnancy 
  • The development of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, where the pleasant effect turns into unpleasant symptoms like severe vomiting, nausea, and dehydration 

Marijuana and Alcohol

When it comes to drugs, alcohol and marijuana are among the most commonly abused substances. Alcohol and marijuana are also more commonly used together than any other substances.

Alcohol can intensify the effects of marijuana, resulting in highly unpleasant physical symptoms such as cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Although marijuana addiction may not be entirely physically addictive, psychological addiction can be powerful. Many users who try to quit by themselves are unable to do so. The best means of success for successfully recovering from marijuana addiction is through seeking professional help.

Depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction, inpatient rehab and sober living facilities may be necessary. Marijuana addicts have seen success in outpatient treatment programs, but the highest chance of success can be found by receiving addiction treatment at an inpatient rehab center.

Detox from Marijuana

Medical detox is the first step in recovering from marijuana addiction. Marijuana detox involves ceasing marijuana use, thus removing all remnants of cannabis metabolites from the body.

Chronic marijuana users may experience a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, numerous techniques and activities are available to help ease unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of relapse.

Marijuana Withdrawal

Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal vary from person to person. The onset, severity, and duration of withdrawal will depend on certain factors, such as the amount of cannabis consumed with each use, and how long the drug was abused. Other considerations are whether it was taken alongside other illicit drugs and the presence of any pre-existing health issues and mental health disorders.

Withdrawal symptoms can include the opposite effects of the drug and enhanced symptoms of any pre-existing health issues – especially mental health conditions. Symptoms typically affect the physical and psychological state of the addict and can serve as formidable deterrents whenever a person decides to quit cannabis.

Therapies for Marijuana Addiction

One-on-one therapy in the form of psychotherapy and group therapy are two primary treatment types used in marijuana addiction treatment.

Psychotherapy is an effective way for the individual to cope with addiction’s psychological effects and works to treat any underlying mental health issues.

Common types of therapy used in addiction treatment include:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is widely used in addiction treatment. These sessions will help the patient identify their triggers, develop tools to cope with negative thoughts, and overcome the behavioral patterns that can influence addiction.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: DBT was first developed to treat patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and other mental illnesses of a similar nature. When used for addiction recovery, DBT helps the patient manage their emotions, behavior, and surroundings. The focus of DBT is to help the patient remove triggers, boost self-esteem, and manage stress in order to maintain sobriety.
  • Group Therapy: Group therapy such as groups like Narcotics Anonymous is a great way to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals who are working to overcome addiction. Meetings are usually held regularly and foster a community spirit and sense of accountability.

Recovery from Marijuana Addiction

With professional help, recovery is possible. At Addiction Rehab Treatment, we have a team of qualified treatment navigators who are here to help you find the right, individualized treatment plan. Get in touch with us today to get help for marijuana addiction and get your life back on track!

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