Marijuana has long been a maligned drug thought to cause laziness, craziness, and even full blown addiction in its abusers. However, recent research into its medicinal benefits has caused much of the public to support the full medicalization and legalization of marijuana. With over 5 states now offering full legal marijuana sales, much of the American public is trying it for the first time.
While many first time marijuana users will experience a mild euphoric sensation, increased appetite, and marked muscle relaxation, other may experience an intense psychological longing to try it again. Marijuana addiction, while not common, is a true disorder that leads to loss of income, degradation of social support, and even physical withdrawal. The CDC estimates that over 9 percent of all marijuana users will struggle with addiction at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, over 20 percent of teenagers who use marijuana will become addicted to one or more drugs in their lifetimes. Addiction also causes more than 150 million dollars in damage to the economy each year, accounting for lost wages, medical expenses, and criminal coverage.
Marijuana is not commonly thought of as a truly dangerous drug. Its typical effects include euphoria, relaxation, sleepiness, increased appetite, mild visual and auditory hallucinations, and lethargy. There is often little to no hangover or physical withdrawal after just one or two uses, unlike other drugs like alcohol or heroin. In fact, marijuana addiction is often viewed in a negative light: most marijuana addicts are maligned as having a choice to keep using or not. Unfortunately, this only serves to isolate those who are struggling with drug addiction, deepening their psychological trauma.
Marijuana addiction starts in the brain. Ingesting marijuana, whether by eating, smoking, or using a topical oil, floods the brain with small dose releases of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Both of these chemicals act induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and creativity. Unfortunately, in those who are predisposed to addictive behavior, their brains are hardwired to crave substances that results in the release of serotonin and dopamine. In some addicts, even the smell of marijuana floods the brain with these chemicals. Breaking these chemical cravings can be difficult, and as the chemical dependency of the brain deepens, a physical addiction can develop as well.
Physical marijuana addiction is a result of the muscle relaxing and digestive effects of the drug. As the body begins to tolerate the effects of marijuana, it can take larger doses to induce the same relaxing effects. Unfortunately, when marijuana is then no longer used, the body still needs larger doses of relaxing chemicals for the muscles to respond and function normally. In a similar manner, marijuana increasing appetites through chemicals released into the stomach and throat, increasing saliva production and muscle flexibility. When marijuana is no longer used, the stomach and throat no longer produce as much saliva and the muscles become more rigid, actually decreasing appetite when compared to a normal level. Thankfully, there are several proven ways to treat marijuana addiction successfully.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the standard of care for many cases of drug addiction. It works especially well in those who suffer from marijuana addiction. CBT works by slowly providing coping mechanisms to those who are addicted, including strategies to deal with intense and fast acting cravings, physical symptoms of withdrawal, and decreased appetite. CBT is also used to properly diagnose the feeling that arise in addicts before a craving hits, allowing them to de-escalate their psychological and physical symptoms. Research shows that those who participate in cognitive behavioral therapy for marijuana addiction retain those skills and are able to return to normal psychological function faster than those who do not seek treatment.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a commonly used form of treatment for marijuana addiction. It focuses on the underlying issues surrounding cravings and positive feelings. MET is used to allow patients to remove both the sources of marijuana and their cravings from their lives. It offers patients a solution to problems that can arise from their living situations.
If you or a loved one struggle with marijuana addiction, a drug rehabilitation facility can be the answer. Rehab facilities offer multiple types of therapy from individual to group sessions to help recovering addicts. Therapy can involve sessions of discussion and in most instances physical activities. It can range from exercise programs, nutrition programs, and even yoga. All services that are incorporated into the healing process can help addicts recover faster and even permanently. Individual therapists are available and even some synthetic drugs that allow patients to detoxify their bodies are available on a regular basis.
Patients are also removed from their potentially toxic support systems, removing both the source of marijuana and the source of stress from their lives. Resetting addicts’ stressful lives in a beautifully managed place of healing can help marijuana addicts of all ages and walks of life recover. Unfortunately, as the rate of marijuana use in this country grows, so too does the rate of addiction. Hopefully some of these strategies can help those struggling with marijuana addiction today.
Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Quincy, Massachusetts. Our team has been helping individuals with Drug or Alcohol Addiction live a life of Recovery since 2016.
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