Marijuana addiction treatment is a rapidly growing part of the substance abuse recovery movement. Although drug addiction is a problem affecting more and more people, oftentimes marijuana, or cannabis, is not taken seriously by users as an addictive, potentially harmful drug. This is incorrect, because although marijuana is not as addictive as, say, alcohol, researchers have demonstrated that the active chemical in cannabis, THC, does qualify as an addictive substance. In fact, one out of ten people who try marijuana will become addicted – and this percentage increases with repeated use.
The main markers of addiction to any drug are tolerance, withdrawal and dependence. Tolerance means the body adapts to the drug, requiring a higher amount of it to achieve the same effects that a smaller amount did previously. Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to an abrupt cessation of the drug. Dependence is the desire to use the drug, and an inability to go without using it. These markers are all present in cases of cannabis addiction.
Unfortunately, as previously noted, most marijuana users are unaware that they can get addicted to cannabis in the first place. They tend to view their drug of choice as relatively harmless and associate the concept of addiction with so-called ‘heavy’ drugs like cocaine or heroin. But even though cannabis is less habit-forming than those drugs – or even tobacco and alcohol – marijuana addiction is real and can have long-term effects. Although studies have not been conclusive as to permanent mental impairment, it goes without saying that ingesting smoke of any kind on a regular basis leads to respiratory and pulmonary problems and increases the risk of some cancers.
Because marijuana addiction is so widely overlooked and/or misunderstood, an intervention may be necessary before the user can come to terms with the fact that he or she has a problem. As this is a necessary first step toward recovery, friends and family of a marijuana addict should consider this option.
Once a cannabis addict is ready to admit to their problem, the marijuana addiction treatment process is much the same as with any other drug. Physicians can be consulted and different forms of treatment weighed in order to choose which best fit the individual situation. Often, pharmacological treatment is a good choice – treatment with medications to stifle cravings and help wean the user off of marijuana. Other choices include counseling, which can range from group therapy to one on one sessions. Counseling is often beneficial because studies suggest that marijuana dependency is closely related to depression and other disorders; in order to treat the addiction, it will often be necessary to get at the underlying reason for using the drug in the first place. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to check in to an addiction recovery center in order to ensure that the user has no access to the drug whatsoever. A popular treatment method is a rewards system whereby patients are regularly drug screened and given vouchers or gift cards to purchase items if they test clean. Over time, with the support of loved ones and a positive mental attitude, marijuana addiction treatment will help the former addict to regain their place as a healthy, sober, functioning member of society.