The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that daily marijuana use will cause dependency and addiction in 25 to 50 percent of its users. In their 2013 study, marijuana use in the U.S. was estimated at 4.2 million people. In addition, the potency of THC in confiscated marijuana has been steadily rising over the past 20 years due to specific techniques in planting and growing cannabis. THC is a compound found in cannabis that causes addiction to the drug. The THC is stored in the fat cells of the body and it is slowly released.
A popular new way to smoke or eat marijuana, called dabbing, is by using THC saturated hash oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant. This oil contains from 50 to 80 percent THC and provides very high levels to the user. This high level of THC poses increased risk of dependence and addiction to users as well.
Marijuana creates a relaxed, pleasant euphoria and sensory perception is heightened and altered. Some people experience anxiety, paranoia, fear and panic. Research shows that marijuana use can cause long-term or permanent damage to brain development. It can also cause adverse changes in the brain that affect cognition, learning, memory and neurotransmission. Structural damage to the brain can also occur. Marijuana use may also increase the risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety and other psychotic disorders. In addition, long-term use has shown to increase the chance of chronic respiratory infections and pneumonia. Furthermore, studies have shown a link between marijuana use in adolescents and an aggressive form of testicular cancer.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
People who develop marijuana disorders have usually been taking the drug daily for more than ten years and have tried to quit a few times. Most people with marijuana disorders also suffer from other mental disorders. They may also be addicted to other drugs or alcohol. There are multiple treatments available that can effectively help an addict recover. Mental health counseling and therapy, which includes behavior modification is part of the treatment. Medications are also available to treat chronic mental disorders. Some of the treatments that are available to a recovering marijuana addict are:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy – This is a psychotherapy that teaches an addict how to identify and correct problem behaviors. This therapy includes learning strategies that will enhance self-control, help to avoid drug use and cope with triggers and strong emotions.
- Contingency Management – This monitored therapeutic management strategy provides or removes positive rewards depending on how a target behavior is handled.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy – This systematic intervention therapy produces quick, internally motivated change in the addict. It teaches the addict how to utilize their own power and will to change their behavior and engage in the treatment process.
Withdrawal symptoms of marijuana use include headaches, irritability, anger, insomnia, decreased appetite, depression, mood swings, anxiety, marijuana craving, nightmares and vivid dreams. More severe symptoms are digestive problems, tremors, shakiness, dizziness, kidney pains, hormonal imbalances and chronic fatigue. Suggested treatments to ease discomfort from withdrawal include:
- Drinking lots of water.
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Eliminating fat and caffeine from the diet.
- Exercising and get plenty of rest.
Medications are also available to treat many of the withdrawal symptoms and vitamin supplementation may be added.
As the recovering addict learns to cope with their problems and treat him or herself with love, patience and integrity they will start to thrive. All recovering addicts need the positive support of their family and friends as they travel together on the journey back to wellness.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.