Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

More than 4 million Americans are reported to have a dependence on marijuana. It is the most commonly abused illicit substance.

Understanding Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug acquired from the cannabis plant. The plant is typically dried out, ground up, and smoked (in paper like a cigarette or in a pipe like tobacco). Marijuana also comes in the form of edibles. Edibles are foods, such as baked goods and candies, which contain the drug and produce the same effects as smoking it.

Some people consume a resin-like substance concentrated from the plant that produces a far more intense high. This substance, known as “dabs,” may be a viscous liquid, a wax-like substance or a hard, crystallized material similar to hard candy that is typically vaporized and inhaled.

Marijuana is used both medically (in some states) and recreationally. Medically, it is used for stress and pain relief and to increase appetite. Recreationally, marijuana is used for its calming effects and to achieve the notorious “high.”

Marijuana Effects and Abuse

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that alters perception. Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that produces the drug’s effects. The effects of marijuana may be different for everyone and depend on how it is consumed. Smoking marijuana produces a faster, shorter-lived high than taking it orally. The effects of dabs can be immediate and last for hours due to their concentrated amounts of THC.

The effects of marijuana include:

  • Feelings of happiness
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced anxiety

While there is virtually no risk of overdosing, marijuana comprises the second highest rates (after cocaine) of emergency room visits caused by abusing an illicit substance. These hospital visits are mostly attributed to accidents that occurred when individuals were intoxicated.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Addiction to Marijuana

Marijuana addiction can be clinically diagnosed and has a negative impact on a person’s life. People can develop a mental dependence on marijuana in the same way other addictions develop.

Like other addictive substances, marijuana use affects dopamine levels in the brain by decreasing the natural production of the neurochemical. Marijuana use brings the dopamine in the user’s brain back to regular levels, but only temporarily.

There are risks of using marijuana that can affect someone’s personal life. These risks can manifest into more immediate consequences such as:

  • Legal complications
  • Falling behind in school
  • Having problems at work
  • An impaired ability to learn and remember things

If you have continued to use marijuana despite the negative consequences, you may have an addiction. Learn more about the symptoms and effects of marijuana addiction.

Marijuana and Other Drugs

Marijuana has long been recognized as a gateway drug because experimentation with it often leads to use of harder drugs like cocaine. This perception is most often related to teen marijuana use because teens are more likely to then experiment with other drugs. As marijuana abuse continues to rise in the United States, teenagers are smoking more than ever. Teens who smoke marijuana are at a higher risk of developing an addiction to other drugs later in life.

[/col_inner] [/row_inner]

Treating a Marijuana Addiction

Some people who have been using marijuana frequently over a long period of time struggle to stop using on their own. Just like any other addiction, asking for help is the most fastest way to quit. Treatment options are generally as simple as visiting a support group or following the guidance of a counselor. Get in touch with us now to learn more.

Signs of Marijuana Abuse

If you’re concerned someone you care about is using marijuana, being aware of the signs of abuse is the first step toward finding out. Some common signs that may indicate marijuana use include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Lack of motivation
  • Weight gain
  • Nervous or paranoid behavior
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slowed reaction time

The Dangers of Marijuana

The majority of Americans don’t have any more of a problem with marijuana than they do with alcohol. Some states have even legalized recreational marijuana use. This doesn’t mean marijuana use is risk-free.

The psychological consequences of prolonged marijuana abuse aren’t completely understood. There are some studies suggest that marijuana addiction may increase the chances of developing mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, motivational disorder, and schizophrenia.

Immediate Side Effects of Marijuana Abuse

The short-term side effects of marijuana aren’t life-threatening, but there are potential dangers of use. Marijuana-related emergency room admissions increased by 59 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some of the immediate side effects of marijuana include:

  • Sweating
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Recognizing a Marijuana Addiction

The biggest sign of a marijuana addiction is an insatiable urge to use no matter the negative outcome. Generally, most people addicted to marijuana don’t feel normal unless they can get high.

Some clinical warning signs of marijuana addiction include needing larger amounts of marijuana to get high and prioritizing marijuana use over social or occupational responsibilities. Learn more about the clinical criteria used to diagnose an addiction.

Marijuana Withdrawal, Treatment and Next Steps

Some people who have used marijuana for years have reported symptoms of withdrawal when they attempted to quit. Unlike those quitting heroin or alcohol, the potential symptoms of marijuana withdrawal aren’t physical. Chronic marijuana users who quit cold-turkey may experience irritability, insomnia, cravings, and anxiety.

Seeking help through treatment can teach users how to get over the emotional hurdles of quitting marijuana. Call us now if you or someone you care about needs help finding treatment.

Understanding Marijuana Withdrawal

Like other addictive substances, heavy or prolonged marijuana use can increase a person’s risk of withdrawal when stopping. While marijuana withdrawal isn’t as dangerous as harder drugs like crack cocaine or heroin, many users still face symptoms when trying to quit.

The symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana vary between each user. Some people with mild marijuana dependencies are able to stop on their own. However, chronic users who have built up a tolerance might need more help kicking their habit.

Do I Need Detoxification for Marijuana Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from marijuana can be uncomfortable. Medically supervised detoxification is especially recommended for those who have co-occurring addictions to other types of drugs. Co-occurring addictions to benzodiazepines or alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms a person experiences during marijuana withdrawal.

Other reasons for choosing a detoxification program include:

  • Having a mental disorder that co-occurs with a marijuana addiction. Many people use marijuana to self-medicate a mental health problem. Medical detoxification sets the groundwork for treating the marijuana addiction alongside an underlying co-occurring disorder.
  • Making multiple attempts to quit marijuana but being unable to do so. Some habits die hard, and marijuana is no exception. The uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana make it difficult to quit without the help of medical professionals.
  • Not living in a stable, substance-free environment. If your living situation encourages substance use, overcoming your marijuana addiction might feel impossible. Sobering up in a detox program can provide a safe and comforting home away from home.

Today, there are numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that offer in-house marijuana detox services. Explore the top rated options below or browse our rehab directory here.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of withdrawing from marijuana vary according to an individual’s level of dependency. For example, a person with a mild dependence on marijuana may experience minor physical and psychological discomfort, such as headaches or restlessness. On the other hand, those with severe forms of marijuana addiction may endure more intense withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, fever, chills and hallucinations.

The most common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

How Long Does Marijuana Withdrawal Last?

The duration of withdrawal from marijuana is different for everyone. For most heavy marijuana users, withdrawal symptoms begin on the first day after quitting and peak within 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms generally last two to three weeks and diminish over time.

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
Day 1 During the first day of withdrawal from marijuana, feelings such as irritability, anxiety and insomnia are common.
Days 2 – 3 This period is typically the peak of withdrawal symptoms. Cravings can be strong, so relapse is most likely during this time. Sweating, chills and stomach pains have also been reported during this period.
Days 4 – 14 Over the next several weeks, symptoms generally improve. However, depression can set in as brain chemistry changes and adapts to functioning without THC. Marijuana cravings may still be present as well.
Days 15+ Most, if not all, symptoms should be gone by week three. Those with severe psychological addictions have reported feelings of depression and anxiety for up to several months after discontinuing marijuana use.

Getting Off Marijuana

Although marijuana may not be as physically addictive as other drugs, the psychological addiction can be powerful. Behavioral disorders, such as gambling addictions, are great examples of the power of mental dependencies.

More people than ever hold the opinion that marijuana is tolerant or acceptable. Although people addicted to marijuana don’t exhibit physical symptoms and they may function at a higher level than someone addicted to heroin or meth, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a dependence. Misconceptions about the addictive nature of marijuana shouldn’t stop the people who need treatment from receiving it.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Inpatient Rehabilitation for Marijuana Addiction

Some people receive inpatient treatment to begin the recovery process. Of those receiving inpatient treatment, most are placed there by the criminal justice system. However, there are people who choose this treatment method voluntarily.

Ongoing Recovery

The primary treatment options available for people dependent on marijuana include therapy and support groups. Many people who get treatment for marijuana addiction use behavioral therapy to address the psychological aspects of the addiction. The amount of time spent in behavioral therapy varies from person to person but may last roughly 12 weeks.

Support groups are one of the most popular ways people receive help. There are many support groups available to those who wish to kick their habit. Marijuana Anonymous is the most substance-specific support group for this addiction. This group is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, including a 12-step program to work through the addiction.

Other support groups exist, such as the SMART Recovery program, for those looking for options outside the traditional 12-Step model.

Beating Your Addiction

Everyone has their own purpose for seeking help. Deciding to receive treatment for marijuana addiction can be tough, and some people think receiving treatment for marijuana is unnecessary. However, the majority of people who want to get over an addiction just can’t do it alone. The most important thing to remember is that you can beat this addiction. Take control of your life today.