Treating Marijuana Addiction

Many people debate whether marijuana addiction is real, especially since marijuana is now gaining legal acceptance as both a medicinal aid and for recreational use in some states. It may not be a “real” addiction in the same way as heroin, for example, but it is real and does require specific marijuana addiction treatment.

People who become addicted to marijuana have typically used it every day for several years and the addiction is very rooted psychologically. They are dependent on the drug within marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to feel normal and to deal with life’s everyday stresses. They often start off as casual social users and then begin to use marijuana more and more alone to relax until it becomes a regular daily ritual.

Many people who suffer from marijuana addiction also suffer from other disorders, such as comorbidity, or mood and anxiety disorders or depression. Some may also suffer from a previous psychological trauma. These can often be what is driving the marijuana abuse as the individual engages in self-medicating behavior just like someone might do with alcohol. Marijuana is also very often use in tandem with other drugs.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Process

It is very important that anyone seeking marijuana addiction treatment to get a thorough psychological profile done in order to assess the psychological impact of the drug, but also to assess the potential for co-occurring disorders, which are often associated with many forms of drug abuse.

Because of the long-term abuse involved treatment is, likewise, a long-term process as the individual slowly learns to live life without having the drug as a crutch and, therefore, the individual must be personally committed to treatment.

There are several behavioral therapies that are effective and can be tailored to the individual needs of the patient. Cognitive behavioral therapy commonly referred to as CBT, and dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, are widely used in treatment for marijuana addiction. In cases where a previous trauma exists, somatic experiencing, or SE, may also be used. Mindfulness training is also often incorporated to help with cravings and prevent relapse.

These therapies, along with more traditional individual therapy sessions and group therapy sessions, make up the core treatment program. Additional therapies can also be included such as equine therapy, art therapy and others.

Ideal Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

It is worth considering residential treatment for marijuana addiction. Because of the long-term nature of this addiction, and how deeply ingrained it can become, a residential course of treatment can be very beneficial to helping the addict on a full-time basis and to get a good head start on living without the drug and avoiding relapse.

Following residential care, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) is also advisable to help maintain the goals of treatment and further deal with any co-occurring conditions. Additionally, joining a social support group is also helpful in terms of helping to avoid relapse and building new relationships and friendships with nonusers.

If you’re dealing with an addiction to marijuana, please call Recovery Channel now for advice and to see if your insurance will cover treatment.

About Marijuana

Marijuana has been used as a means for achieving euphoria since ancient times. It was first written about as such in a Chinese medical compendium dating from the year 2737. It was also used as a medicinal herb.

Marijuana was a major crop in North America for hemp, used in making rope and fabrics, especially during World War II when Asian hemp became unavailable. Marijuana was also used for medicinal purposes in the United States from the 1850s to the 1930s, particularly for labor pains, nausea and rheumatism. During that period it was also used as an intoxicant, until the Federal Bureau of Narcotics portrayed marijuana as a powerfully addictive drug. It was then, and still is, considered a “gateway” drug that opens the doorway to use of harder narcotics and drugs such as meth.

In the 1950s is was used extensively by the Beat Generation, as it was again in the 1960s by the so called hippies, although use became commonplace at that time. Today, after decades of heightened vigilance against growers and importers and stuff prison terms for possession and use, marijuana is again a medical herb and is legal in several states with growing popularity.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Because of its history people are often confused about whether or not marijuana addiction is a real condition. The answer is, yes, it can be addictive.

If used long enough, over-stimulation of the endocannabinoid system by marijuana cause changes in the brain that lead to addiction. The addict has cannot stop using the drug and craves it, even though it interferes with relationships, school or a job, and the addict conducts his or her life. They have difficulty going someplace where they know they will not have access to marijuana for any length of time.

It is estimated that nine percent of the people who use marijuana will become addicted to it. That number climbs to 17 percent in those who start using marijuana in their teens. It goes up from 25 percent to 50 percent among daily users. According to some studies, marijuana accounts for 4.2 million of the 6.9 million Americans dependent on an illicit drug.

Potency Increases Risk for Addiction to Marijuana

One of the factors accounting for the increasing number of people with an addiction to marijuana is the increasing potency of the plant.

In the 90s marijuana had roughly a 3.7 percent THC concentration, while today the THC concentration is closer to 10 percent. There are also new ways of further concentrating the THC levels to be even higher, especially by smoking or eating marijuana extract. The average marijuana extract is over 50 percent THC rich with some samples exceeding 80 percent.

With these new levels of THC concentration the consequences and effects of marijuana use could be far worse than anything known in the past, particularly among young people whose brains are still developing.

In lower THC levels, with regular use, marijuana addiction can cause mild withdrawal symptoms, irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness and other forms of physical discomfort last up to two weeks. Even though these symptoms are dangerous themselves, marijuana addiction treatment can be critical for breaking the psychological addiction to the drug.

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