How to treat marijuana addiction
Marijuana addiction occurs in roughly 9-10% of people who use marijuana regularly. It is characterized by psychological need for weed, despite negative consequences to a person’s finances, health, work or home life.
However, marijuana addiction is treatable. Read on to understand more about marijuana use disorders and their treatment. Then, we invite your questions or comments about help for marijuana addicts at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt response.
Are you addicted to marijuana?
Before you begin treating addiction to marijuana, you must first accept the actual problem. While many marijuana users claim that marijuana is NOT addictive, they often misunderstand how addiction is diagnosed. And they deny that marijuana can be abused.
If you are not yet sure whether you or a loved one is addicted to marijuana and needs help, it can help to identify some of the common signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction. These can include:
- craving marijuana when not using it
- feeling uncomfortable if not high
- hanging out only with people who smoke marijuana
- increasing doses over time (developing tolerance to THC)
- losing control over intended use
- losing interest in family, school, work
- trying to quit smoking weed and failing (especially multiple times)
Are you or a loved one exhibiting any of these signs? If yes, you may want to consider professional help.
Treating marijuana addiction
Typically, marijuana addiction therapy occurs in three main stages:
1. Detox, if necessary
2. Psychotherapy and/or behavioral therapy
3. Continued support through group or individual work
Treating marijuana addiction begins with a detox phase during which the body is rid of accumulated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Can you be physically addicted to weed? Yes, evidenced by the manifestation of clinical symptoms during withdrawal. While many withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature, others are physicals. Some people experience more mild symptoms of marijuana withdrawal that can be treated at home with over the counter medications (such as headaches or nausea), while heavy users are advised to seek medical assistance, especially for trouble with mood disorders and sleeping problems.
At the moment, there are no medications available to treat the symptoms of physical dependence marijuana, however, researchers are actively seeking new treatments. So far, the medication buspirone has shown some potential for treating marijuana addiction, but this therapy requires additional study.
Behavioral and psychological therapies occur after detox. The purpose of these treatments is to help the individual maintain abstinance and adopt a healthy lifestyle. The most common behavioral treatments include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
- Contingency management (CM)
All of these have shown promising results with this kind of drug addiction. Additionally, marijuana addiction respond to psychological therapy in individual and/or group settings. The main goal of psychotherapy is to identify the psycho-emotional reasons for marijuana use and the resolution of the same without the need for drug abuse.
Treatments for marijuana addiction
So, where can you go to receive treatment for marijuana addiction? Professional settings which assess, refer, offer, and/or manage treatments for addiction include:
- Addiction Treatment Centers: These centers include both inpatient AND outpatient clinics. Better known as rehab, these professional centers offer both behavioral and pharmacological treatment and follow up aftercare.
- Detox Clinics: These types of clinics specialize in helping patients detox from drugs while treating the physical withdrawal symptoms and providing medical assistance when needed. While not always necessary for marijuana addiction, severe cases of depression or anxiety should be medically managed during withdrawal.
- Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists: These specialists are trained in identifying and later treating drug addictions by means of behavioral treatments or psychotherapy. Seeking help form a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist is highly recommended for heavy users or for those in denial.
- Addiction support groups: Spending time talking to people who share your experience and offer mutual support and advice is beneficial for those who seek a drug free life. It is highly recomended that you join a suport group to learn principles of addiction recovery. This can include Ration Recovery, SMART Recovery, 12 step groups, or religious recovery groups.
- Social Workers: You can seek help from a social worker if you wish to be referred to an affordable and suitable treatment program or if you want to look for financial aid for addiction recovery.
TIP: When looking for a treatment option, consider you own needs and preferences. The best type of treatment for you is the one that takes your personal needs and preferences into account and meets them accordingly. Additionally, there are plenty of specialized drug treatment facilities across the United States that provide help for substance use disorders. If you consider seeking professionl help for your marijuana addiction, investigate treatment centers in your area that come recommended by doctors and community references.
How to treat marijuana addiction questions
Let us know if you have any questions or comments about treating marijuana addiction. We will try to respond with a personal and prompt reply.
References Sources: NCBI: A placebo-controlled trial of buspirone for the treatment of marijuana dependence.
NIH: Principles of drug addiction treatment
Photo credit: Blind Nomad