Is rehab really necessary for pot smokers?
Is rehab necessary for someone who smokes a lot of weed? That, my friends, is the million-dollar question. Deciding whether to seek treatment for weed actually goes deeper than that simple question. It touches upon the age-old social and political debate about whether marijuana is a drug. We explore more on the issue here, and invite your questions or comments about what to bring to rehab or rehab, in general, at the end.
Is marijuana a drug?
On one side, you have fervent anti-drug campaigners who argue that weed is absolutely a drug and a dangerous one at that. On the other side, you have marijuana activists who argue that weed is natural and, if used responsibly, harmless.
Those are the extremes. The rest of us (a.k.a. almost everyone!) fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to our opinions about marijuana.
My personal opinion, as a woman in recovery, is that weed isn’t different from any other drug. If you suffer from the disease of addiction, it doesn’t matter if a substance is legal, illegal, natural, synthetic, harmless, or dangerous. If you suffer from the disease of addiction, all mind and mood altering chemicals are dangerous. This idea, that addicts and alcoholics can’t safely use drugs or alcohol in any form, brings us nicely to the question of whether someone abusing weed should seek help.
Going to rehab for weed: Misconceptions
I’ve been to my fair share of rehabs, both inpatient and outpatient. During my time in treatment, I’ve met people who are there for just about everything you can imagine. I’ve met women who can’t stop drinking and men who can’t stop huffing. I’ve met online gaming addicts and individuals who sought help for mental health issues exclusively. I’ve met junkies and crackheads. I’ve also met more than a few marijuana addicts and people diagnosed with marijuana addiction.
Our culture demonizes those who’re addicted to “hard” drugs like heroin, meth, and crack. This happens even within the drug culture itself. When I was in early-recovery, I called myself a pill addict. There was no way I was going to cop to being a full-fledged heroin addict! The drug culture also seems to demonize those who seek treatment for weed. They’re snickered at and told to “get a real addiction.” Don’t believe me? Just look at the movie Half Baked. In it, Dave Chappelle goes to an NA meeting and shares about being addicted to weed. He’s booed and laughed out of the meeting. It’s funny in the movie, but in real life something like that is tragic.
This cultural misunderstanding doesn’t change the fact that marijuana addiction is a very real thing. I know people who’ve never touch a so-called “hard” drug, but have no problem smoking an ounce of weed each day. They can’t function without it. They can’t face life sober. That’s the very definition of addiction. It’s also important to remember that addiction is more than the substances someone uses. It’s a disease centered in our thinking and our actions. It’s a disease of compulsion and dishonesty.
But before you even consider seeking treatment for marijuana addiction, you may need to get rid of preconceptions. Someone can suffer from the disease of addiction without fitting the stereotype of an addict. They may hold down a job, but pop pills all day. They may have a successful marriage, but drink themselves to sleep every night. They may be normal in all other areas, but be unable to face the world without smoking weed. These are all things for those thinking about going to rehab for weed to consider.
Being in recovery and using marijuana
Let’s say you recognize you have a problem with marijuana and seek treatment. What then? What happens once you graduate and reenter the world? Can you still smoke? After all, it’s only weed, right?
I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve even been guilty of thinking it myself! For all the reasons mentioned above, many addicts and alcoholics seem to think marijuana is different than other drugs. This can lead to some dangerous behavior.
After going through my first rehab, I decided it would be a good idea to smoke weed. I thought if I could just smoke and drink like normal people, I’d be okay. The funny thing is that I was able to smoke weed and drink like a normal twenty-something…until I wasn’t. Weed and alcohol led me right back to my drug of choice. Even if they hadn’t, they still gave my life an aura of un-manageability. After all, I was living in a halfway house and sneaking out to go to the club! That isn’t very manageable!
- So, is marijuana a drug?
It absolutely is.
- Is marijuana addiction a real phenomenon?
It absolutely is. (signs of marijuana addiction are clinical)
- Should those suffering from it seek treatment?
They absolutely should.
End of story.