With increased legalization, people may assume that marijuana can be used safely, has no health risks, and will not cause dependence or addiction. While most marijuana users will not develop a serious problem, some can develop an addiction. As with any substance, trying to quit becomes more challenging if the person has a dual diagnosis. A person who self-medicates a mental health issue with marijuana may need more help when arresting use.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. People may smoke the flower buds or extract concentrated versions of the psychoactive chemicals to smoke or vape. Baking or making food with the concentrate has also become popular.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that marijuana is the second most popular psychoactive substance, with alcohol being the first. The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects people seek, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds, primarily of the female cannabis plant. The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including more than 100 chemically related THC compounds, called cannabinoids.
With increased legalization, people may have an impression of marijuana as harmless. However, marijuana use can lead to the development of dependence, which can eventually lead to addiction in severe cases. The NIDA reports that despite popular belief, marijuana is addictive and that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of a substance use disorder.
Side effects of marijuana use include:
Side effects depend on the individual and the method of consuming the substance. Edible items, for instance, can cause people to ingest more than they expected and experience more intense side effects than desired.
Some people might ask is bad about being addicted to marijuana. People using marijuana do not make the news for overdosing like people misusing other substances. However, marijuana has physical side effects people should know about. The most concerning observation by the CDC is that marijuana can prevent the brain from developing new connections between neurons, especially those under 25. Since this age group is still in the process of brain development their brain is at the most significant risk.
When individuals attempt to quit using marijuana after becoming dependent on the substance, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. Research has found these symptoms happen most often in people who used daily for a period of over ten years and tried multiple times to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Most of these side effects last a few days and will almost disappear within a few weeks. However, some people report that cravings for marijuana persist for a year or more. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapy modalities can help people deal with cravings and learn tools to avoid situations where they might have a chance to use marijuana again.
How Is Marijuana Addiction Treated?
Marijuana does not usually require any medication assistance while quitting. When withdrawal symptoms do occur, people can manage them with time and therapy. Time is essential with marijuana since THC is soluble in fat. This means it gets into the body’s fat, and instead of being removed in days, it can take weeks to months to fully disappear from the body.
People stop experiencing side effects within hours of stopping marijuana.
When they begin to crave the substance, they may experience effects like irritability and restlessness. Substance use disorder regarding marijuana responds well to treatment with several different therapeutic modalities, with the greatest success with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). When people attend residential treatment for marijuana addiction, they usually need help staying away from the substance and more education.
12-Step programs and other recovery support groups can help people stay sober and avoid returning to marijuana use. People who have tried to quit and struggled in the past should find long-term support with one of these recovery groups.
How Does Everlast Treat Marijuana Addiction?
Everlast Recovery Centers uses all of the most evidence-based methods of therapy, like CBT. Our clinically trained staff have experience in CBT techniques and can help people work through the mood and emotional changes that come with substance abuse treatment.
Everlast encourages our clients to think of marijuana as a drug similar to alcohol. Some people use it occasionally without any problems, but it does have side effects and will cause dependence or addiction in a percentage of its users. At Everlast, you can find lasting healing and sobriety from marijuana addiction.