Marijuana (cannabis, weed, pot, reefer, grass, dope, Mary Jane, etc.) is widely used recreationally. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s the most commonly used illicit drug. Marijuana comes from an Indian hemp plant and is a mixture of dried leaves, stems, flowers and seeds. While there are more than 400 chemicals in marijuana, the key chemical responsible for the “high” is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is why it is classified as an illicit drug.1
Many people assume marijuana is a safe drug. Although it is not as addictive as some other drugs, it is still subject to abuse and repercussions. It can even result in withdrawal effects if abused. If chronic use starts in adolescence — when the brain is not fully developed — marijuana use can negatively impact cognitive function and structure. These changes can last several years and may be permanent.2
Treating Marijuana Addiction
There are no medications prescribed specifically for marijuana addiction treatment, however research is ongoing. Therapies that have shown promise include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management and motivational enhancement therapy. In heavy users and those with other chronic substance abuse or mental health disorders, medication may be used in conjunction with behavioral therapies.3
Based on 12-step principles, The Right Step offers inpatient and outpatient treatment programs to help adolescents and adults struggling with marijuana addiction and other substance abuse issues achieve long-term recovery. In addition, you’ll receive a comprehensive assessment to determine if there are any co-occurring mental health issues like depression or anxiety that may be fueling your marijuana use. Also, we’ll work with you to craft a marijuana addiction treatment plan that addresses your physical, spiritual and mental needs. In addition, some of the approaches we draw upon to accomplish this include individual, group and family therapy, collaborative problem solving, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step support groups and practices, psychodrama and proper nutrition and fitness. Also, you’ll learn healthy coping skills to address triggers in everyday life and engage in activities that show you how recovery can be fun and rewarding.
Marijuana Addiction and Abuse
Marijuana use can lead to the development of marijuana use disorder, which in severe cases turns into addiction. Recent data suggest that 30% of marijuana users may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People with marijuana use disorders, especially adolescents, often suffer from additional psychiatric and/or substance use disorders (e.g. cocaine or alcohol abuse).4
Stats and Facts
- In 2014, an estimated 22.2 million people ages 12 and older reported using marijuana during the past month.5
- In the past year, 4.2 million people ages 12 and older met the criteria for cannabis use disorder based on marijuana use.5
- In 2010, 340,212 of 687,531 substance use treatment admissions were for marijuana abuse in people ages 18 to 30.2
- People who only use cannabis are typically in better health than people who use it with other drugs. However, cannabis use alone may be associated with both acute and chronic psychosocial, mental and physical health consequences. These include cancer and long-term respiratory and cardiovascular problems.6
Marijuana Use in Pregnancy
The use of cannabis in early pregnancy is associated with many of the same risks as tobacco, including miscarriage, congenital malformations and learning disabilities. Also, since 1970, there has been a 25-fold increase in THC levels in marijuana, resulting in an increase in adverse effects of cannabis during pregnancy. Once cannabinoids are present in the mother’s bloodstream, they readily cross the placenta and enter the fetal bloodstream. In addition, cannabinoid exposure poses an acute risk to the developing human embryo through its ability to interfere with crucial modulators of cellular growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). Research indicates chronic consumption of THC results in a significant decrease in folic acid uptake. Also, this suggests that chronic marijuana use during pregnancy may result in folic acid deficiencies and possible developmental defects.7
Scientific evidence supports the positive impact of physical activity on decreasing cannabis abuse. A 2011 study showed that regular, brief exercise sessions on a treadmill reduced cravings for marijuana in heavy users by at least 50%. A more recent study revealed that participants in a low-exercise group were substantially more likely to abandon abstinence efforts and return to active drug use within one week than those who fully engaged in exercise.8 While everyone is different, additional measures that can help prevent relapse include identifying and eliminating risks and triggers, ongoing psychotherapy and support groups.
At The Right Step, you’ll engage in regular relapse prevention practices like fitness and mindfulness and attend 12-step support groups. In addition, from day one, our focus is on helping you address the issues that fuel your addiction and replace destructive behaviors with new, healthy coping skills.
- What is Marijuana? Drug Free World website. http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/marijuana.html Accessed October 5, 2016.
- Strashny A. Marijuana Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Aged 18 to 30: Early vs. Adult Initiation. The CBHSQ Report. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2013 Aug 13.
- Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/available-treatments-marijuana-use-disorders Updated August 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.
- Is marijuana addictive? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive Updated August 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.
- Substance Use Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. http://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/substance-use Updated October 27, 2015. Accessed October 5, 2016.
- Woodruff SI, McCabe CT, Hohman M, et al. Characteristics of Cannabis-Only and Other Drug Users Who Visit the Emergency Department. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):149-153. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0012.
- Friedrich J, Khatib D, Parsa K, Santopietro A, Gallicano G. The grass isn’t always greener: The effects of cannabis on embryological development. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016 Sep 29;17(1):45.
- Exercise Helps Prevent Marijuana Relapse, Study Finds. Elements Behavioral Health website. https://www.promisesbehavioralhealth.com/drug-abuse-addiction/exercise-helps-prevent-marijuana-relapse-study-finds/ Accessed October 5, 2016.