Marijuana addiction is a global concern, with a growing number of individuals seeking treatment over excessive use. The societal acceptance and narrative that marijuana causes minimal adverse clinical outcomes have seen the addiction rates skyrocket to unimaginable heights.
Marijuana addicts who begin using the drug from teenagehood have a 17% chance of addiction1,2. The statistics also rise by up to 50% if the individual uses the drug daily. Marijuana addiction treatment is important.
How Marijuana Triggers Addiction
Marijuana’s addictive tendencies come from changes in the brain. The brain is triggered into receiving happy and relaxed receptors by the active ingredient found in the drug. This active ingredient attaches itself to the happy hormones, thus eliciting the calming effect.
This process triggers chemical reactions that impede the transfer of messages between the brain and nervous system. The brain ardently fights this at first. However, continued use of marijuana may cause the brain to stop making its own chemical and completely rely on the drug. The brain forces itself to shut down its receptors, making it operate only at an optimal level. Therefore, long-term use of the drug causes the brain to function at this level, which affects the quality of life.
The drug is highly addictive and may cause serious repercussions on the individual’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Marijuana addicts need to constantly use the drug, as much as 2 times a day. This leads to a waste of time and money as they constantly have to hoard the drug and spend money that would otherwise go to their livelihood or family.
The use of marijuana is also coupled with alcohol or cocaine use, and most addicts eventually become addicted to several drugs at once. Marijuana causes a strain in the addict’s relationships.
The more marijuana is used, the higher the tolerance levels. Therefore, individuals with marijuana cravings become severe addicts, with most taking in larger amounts of the drug than previously. The need for a higher strain is also seen with many addicts on the prowl for a stronger and powerful strain of marijuana.
Legalization and Effect on Marijuana Treatment
Legalizing marijuana in most states has impeded the progress of marijuana treatment, with fewer addicts checking into treatment facilities. This has also seen the number of marijuana addicts rise exponentially, and addiction’s focus becomes less.
The focus on the legalization of the drug has driven the narrative on the harmless effects of the drug and the need to indulge in it for recreational and medicinal purposes. Therefore, this has made the treatment process difficult, as states are seeking to grow marijuana for use. This marijuana is then used by young people, who later become adults, are ingrained in addiction, and need recovery treatment.
Types of Marijuana Addiction Therapy
Marijuana addiction treatment involves the use of therapy and medication in treating addiction. The use of marijuana is coupled with mental disorders due to the detrimental effects of marijuana in the brain, especially after years of use.
Therefore, there are several structured approaches to counteract addiction:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
This therapy technique aims to assist the addict in understanding their problematic behaviors to understand the reason behind their addiction. By understanding behavioral tendencies and repetitive behaviors, the addict can steer away from trigger factors and enhance self-control through maintaining positive habits, consequently stopping drug use.
- Motivational enhancement therapy
This approach focuses on prompting the addict to develop positive and structured changes to internalize the need for treatment and change. This approach prompts an individual to internalize the drug’s effects and create measures for treatment development.
- Contingency management
Contingency management employs tangible positive rewards to the favorable target behavior. For instance, continued positive behavior is rewarded through incentives, which in the long run illicit the much-needed change from the patient. This approach centers on goals and rewards.
Aside from the mentioned therapy techniques, some severe cases of marijuana addiction may prompt the use of medication.
Currently, the FDA has not approved any medications for the treatment of marijuana use disorder. Patients may be given anti-anxiety or anti-stress medication that seeks to remove them from the state of intoxication. Marijuana withdrawal is characterized by sleep. Therefore, the medications given to the addicts may cause them to fall into a sleep-induced state.
Several other unconventional therapies such as exercise, art, massage, and alternative therapies can help individuals transition from addiction into a drug-free and healthy lifestyle.
What to Expect in Marijuana Addiction Treatment
When seeking marijuana addiction treatment, identifying the right treatment center to go to will improve your recovery chances. Researching suitable treatment centers that provide evidence-based treatments through referrals or search engines will be required.
Depending on the addiction level, the individual can either opt for in-patient or out-patient treatment. Inpatient treatment normally takes 30 to 90 days and is dependent on the effect the drug has on the patient.
The treatment plans are then employed, which takes between 12 to 16 weeks based on the patient’s receptiveness. A combination of treatment methods aims to ensure a well-rounded approach and help prevent relapses.
Several support groups aim to help the addict transition into a healthy and drug-free life by staying away from triggers. The traditional 12-step model has proved effective in helping recovering addicts steer away from harmful practices and behaviors.
Sober living houses are also available in the community. This enables the individual to live in an environment promoting positive behavior and responsibility, as they prepare to learn how to transition into daily life.
Other support groups like the SMART recovery program use a self-empowering technique that provides participants with a 4-point template that focuses on helping them form better habits and practices through getting rid of particular fundamentals. Individuals learn how not to blame themselves for their addiction but to employ positive and beneficial behaviors such as coping with urges, balancing their lives, and managing their thoughts and feelings.
We hope that you enjoyed the article. If you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments.
- Anthony JC. The epidemiology of cannabis dependence. In: Roffman RA, Stephens RS, eds. Cannabis Dependence: Its Nature, Consequences, and Treatment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2006:58-105.
- Hall WD, Pacula RL. Cannabis Use and Dependence: Public Health and Public Policy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2003.