What is marijuana addiction?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, addiction is the continued use of marijuana despite adverse effects, even at the cost broken relationships and giving up on social, occupational and recreational activities. Doctors diagnose marijuana addiction by examining patient’s history and looking for intoxication symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, increased appetite, dryness of the mouth and fast heartbeat.
However, other symptoms can also be present. For example, an addicted person may continue to abuse marijuana despite having repeated problems in family relationships, career and legal run-ins (due to possession and use).
Addiction to marijuana: What’s it like?
A lot of people are introduced to marijuana at an early age, often during high school. Marijuana is popular among teens because it is perceive as less harmful and addictive, but it often results to being a gateway to try other addicting drugs. Here is a story of a teen that became addicted to marijuana at a young age, and how he got back on his feet:
“I loved pot the moment I first got stoned, at the young age of 14. I’ve been regularly drinking alcohol for a year, and the moment I became hooked to marijuana, I chose to drop the booze and pick the pipe. I was only an occasional user but that changed the moment entered high school where I was surrounded by stoning friends and thus became like them – using to point of getting stoned.
The changes in my grades were significant, and my parents knew something was up. I was busted dealing, but resisted to go to the treatment center as I believed that I could stop anytime. I was caught shop-lifting. I managed to stop using to point of intoxication in 2 months, and then started to get stoned again. My home life was awful as I squabbled with my parents and my little brother. I was selfish and was high every day.
My marijuana use stopped when dad broke my guitars and ran away; I was caught a week later. I told my parents I need help, and they helped me check in at the treatment center. I have not used pot since and it resulted to vast improvement of my life, and it was worth living.”
The teen in the story exhibited the following that is typical to persons addicted to marijuana:
- Choosing to use and be intoxicated to marijuana rather than fulfill roles at school and at home
- Using marijuana despite undesirable consequences
- Desire to cut marijuana use, but doing so unsuccessfully
- Giving up responsibilities for marijuana use
Here are other notable signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse:
- Using marijuana in dangerous situations such as driving or operating heavy machinery
- The need to use more marijuana over time just to feel the same effects
- Experiencing marijuana withdrawal once use is reduced or cut
- Spending great deal of time, energy and effort just to have and use marijuana
Treatment of marijuana addiction
Marijuana dependence is a treatable condition, even for heavy and relapsing users. According to existing data, the majority of marijuana users seeking treatment have been using marijuana for an average of 10 years and more and have attempted several times to quit .
Treatment for marijuana addiction is largely psychological, with minimal use of medications during the initial phase of detox from marijuana. In most addiction treatment facilities, discussions between a health professional and recovering patient are done periodically to determine and strengthen motivations to stop marijuana use, manage withdrawal symptoms, and learn to cope with future triggers to reduce risk of relapse, and provision of rewards for maintaining sobriety.
Discussions are also done to determine and address low self-esteem, mood disorders, relationship conflicts and other stresses that drive the use of marijuana. Low doses of benzodiazepines may be given for agitation and anxiety.
Outpatient and home management strategies also showed efficacy in studies . Even in relapsing patients, admission and sticking to treatment at the addiction center remains effective in achieving sobriety.
Where can you go to get help for marijuana addiction? The main sources of medical help for addiction to marijuana can include:
1. Prescribing physician – Can easily assess if you have problems with marijuana, and can also provide recommendation on facilities for treatment.
2. Specialist – Doctors called Certified Addiction Specialist can provide extensive and specialized services for marijuana addicts, especially to recurrent cases.
3. Drug treatment centers – These facilities have health care professionals that help you treat marijuana addiction.
4. Psychiatrist – These specialist doctors provides psychiatric services to help you deal with marijuana addiction.
5. Licensed clinical psychologist – Psychologists can provide health intervention, specifically cognitive and behavioral therapy, that is effective in treatment of marijuana addiction.
6. Social workers – These professionals can help refer marijuana addicts to treatment centers and also to welfare services to ensure care for their families.
7. Poison control center – Provides emergency medical support and advice in cases of marijuana intoxication.