Contrary to popular belief, marijuana does have addictive properties. Marijuana addiction is a habit of abusing the substance without regard for the negative consequences.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes addiction as a substance use disorder that affects the brain, distorts thinking, and makes it difficult to quit drug abuse. Abuse of this drug is prevalent among adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. NIDA reports that 9% of those who use marijuana will eventually develop an addiction. Those who started using as teens have a 17% risk of addiction while daily users have a 25-50% risk.
It is common for people who are addicted to marijuana to deny addiction. However, there are signs and symptoms that can help you determine if you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse. Admitting the addiction is the first step to getting professional treatment. Early treatment is crucial as abusing marijuana is sometimes classified as the “gateway” to abusing other substances such as alcohol, heroin, or other opioids.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, or Cannabis, is an illicit drug made from a plant called Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. It is called by “street” names such as weed, dope, pot, grass, reefer, herb, and ganja. The drug is widely used and is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the US. This is according to NIDA. It contains the active ingredient THC ( delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), a mind-altering chemical. Some states have legalized marijuana for medical use and recreational purposes.
Marijuana Methods of Use
The dried leaves, seeds, stems, and flowers are used to make the drug which is smoked. It is called a “joint” when smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe and a “blunt” when smoked in a cigar shell refilled with marijuana. To avoid smoke inhalation, some users inhale the vaporized form of the drug, e.g., vaporizing liquid marijuana extract to isolate the THC, the chemical that produces the euphoria or “high.” The extract, rich in TCH resins, can also be taken by mixing it into foods such as cookies or candies.
Addiction to Marijuana
People who are addicted to marijuana compulsively seek and use it. The pattern or habit stems from dependency which arises from overuse or abuse. Dependency leads to addiction. At this point, you are likely unable to control your drug use habits.
The severity of the addiction depends on how long you’ve been abusing marijuana, how frequent, and the amount and method of use. Taking TCH-rich resin extracts increases the risk of addiction compared to smoking the dried parts of the plant. The liquid, solid, or wax form of the drug is very potent and has sent many people to the emergency room.
The drug causes dependency and addiction by acting on the natural THC receptors (cannabinoid receptors) in the brain creating a sense of pleasure and improved mood. Continued marijuana use activates these receptors to the point where the receptors stay active and persistently crave the drug. Brain development can be impaired, especially in adolescents and teenagers who use or abuse the substance. They may experience a decline in thinking, coordination, memory, or IQ.
Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana abuse results in short-term and long-term effects depending on the level of use. Long-term abuse causes certain symptoms to develop including these:
- Reddish-looking eyes
- Strong cravings
- Dry mouth
- Intense hunger
- Slowed speech
- Seeing bright colors
- High or low blood pressure
- Lack of coordination
- Decreased or irregular heart rate
- Persistent cough or respiratory infection
- Heart attack
- Hoarding the drug
- Social isolation
- Mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
- Not caring what others think
- Decreased reaction time
- Distorted perceptions
- Difficulty thinking
- Memory problems
- Impaired problem-solving abilities
- Trouble focusing or keeping up with a conversation
- Impaired learning due to a decline in cognitive functions
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
If you try to quit smoking or taking marijuana on your own or at a treatment center, withdrawal symptoms will develop. Unpleasant or severe symptoms often prevent people from quitting so they’ll go right back to using or the addiction may get worse. This is called a relapse.
Getting treated at an inpatient or outpatient rehab increases your chance of successfully getting over marijuana. The professional medical and psychiatric recovery team will help you manage these withdrawal symptoms:
- Strong marijuana cravings
- Angry outbursts
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Loss of appetite
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
Co-occurring disorders, e.g., alcoholism, cocaine abuse, or gambling addiction, can make it likely for someone to abuse marijuana. Addiction treatment takes a comprehensive approach to help you get over your addiction. It involves treating physical and psychological dependence.
At our treatment center, the process begins with admission and intake. A thorough physical and psychological evaluation is done to determine how severe the addiction is and the level of treatment required. This is called dual diagnosis. The next major steps are detox and therapy.
Detox for Addiction to Marijuana
Detox is a process done in a medical setting to allow the drug to leave your body thus relieving you of physical dependence. Unlike with addiction to other drugs such as opioids, there is currently no medication used to block marijuana effects, manage withdrawal symptoms, or prevent relapse during or after rehab.
Therapy for Addiction to Marijuana
Therapy is a critical stage in addiction treatment as it seeks to address underlying disorders or mental health conditions linked to marijuana abuse. NIDA reports that those who usually seek treatment have been using the substance daily for at least 10 years and have tried quitting at least 6 times. Psychotherapy or behavioral therapy are typically used to treat associated disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is commonly used to guide behavioral changes that support sobriety. They include choosing healthy ways to cope with life’s challenges that trigger drug use or abuse. Therapy is a cornerstone for relapse prevention. Attending 12-step support groups such as Marijuana Anonymous (MA) is another behavioral change tool that can help keep you off the substance.
Getting Treated At 310 Recovery
Although it is not as severe as when other drugs are abused, e.g., heroin or cocaine, marijuana does cause addiction. Professional addiction treatment at 310 Recovery can help you return to a life free from drug abuse. Our medical and mental health teams are trained in drug abuse treatment which can be delivered in an outpatient or residential setting.
The teams provide services in a safe, compassionate, and non-judgmental environment. After a complete evaluation, a treatment plan will be designed to suit your individual needs. Our comprehensive treatment approach involves various therapies aimed at improving your chances of recovery. Contact us today to find out about admissions.