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Marijuana Addiction

With social acceptance and public opinion at an all-time high in our lifetimes, the normalization of marijuana use allows problem use and addiction to seemingly blend into the noise of casual users. Much like how alcoholism and alcohol use disorder happen right in front of our societal noses, so too does marijuana addiction.

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An Introduction to Marijuana Addiction

Particularly recently, with sweeping legalization taking place across the country, marijuana use is being perceived as less and less risky.

The nonchalance likely owed to the idea that it’s “just a plant” and natural. It is true that marijuana is simply the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. The mind-altering psychoactive active ingredient being the THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) being ingested via smoking, vaping, edibles, consuming the resins for a much more intense high (known as “dabs”), etc.

All-natural doesn’t inherently mean all good, however.

With access to it becoming ever-easier, the questions of safety, whether legalization is the “right” thing to do and more come up. And the debate doesn’t offer very many obvious and unambiguous answers, but one thing is abundantly clear: we have a storied and checkered history with marijuana and it is a substance that you can have problem usage with, dependency on and addiction to.

It’s been vilified as an evil and a gateway drug and praised as a cash crop and for its medicinal value.  It was legal for over a century in the United States before regulation started in the early 1900s leading to the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 which essentially criminalized it nationwide. More draconian and harsh punishments followed.

So, what’s the truth?

As with all controversial topics, the truth of the matter is elusively somewhere in the middle, in the grey area, but what’s known definitively is that marijuana use disorder is a very real thing. Not only that but it’s often left untreated with only 7% of people with past-year marijuana use disorder receiving any marijuana-specific treatment according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

With roughly 22.2 million people using marijuana each month, it’s the most commonly used illegal drug in the country (states are indeed legalizing it but it remains illegal on the federal level). Additionally, over 1/3rd of high school seniors, 35.2%, have used marijuana in the past year.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that “approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6”.

Realizing how utterly widespread the use is illustrates just how few people get adequate and appropriate treatment.

Contributing to the ease with which people get hooked, there’s been a documented increase in potency over the last few decades. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that “in the early 1990s, the average THC content in confiscated marijuana samples was less than 4%. In 2018, it was more than 15%”.

As for the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug, as loudly as that drum has been beat, it’s still somewhat inconclusive. Studies show “moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances, including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs”. Nonetheless, it’s been established that the majority of people who use do not go on to use harder substances.

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Marijuana Withdrawal

While not as intense as withdrawal from harder drugs like meth or like the delirium tremens that severe alcohol withdrawal can bring, stopping the use of marijuana is still presents its own challenges.

Most comparable to withdrawal from nicotine, withdrawal from cannabis is characterized more with discomfort than the more intense nature of other drugs.

Withdrawal looks like this:

  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Decreased appetite and possible weight loss
  • Irritable, easily agitated and moody
  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Strong cravings for marijuana

In the main, most symptoms begin within 24 to 48 hours of abstinence, peak within 4 to 6 days, and last from 1 to 3 weeks.

We Work with Most Insurance

At Thrive Treatment℠ we accept most private insurance plans and we are in network with Cigna, MHN Health Net, First Health, and Anthem Blue Cross.  Additional payment options are available so don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can get you the help that you need.

What Are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?

Not necessarily the first thing that pops into someone’s mind in terms of an addictive substance, marijuana can without a doubt hook you. The evidence and research are so conclusive to that end that the symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the holy grail and gold standard used to diagnose mental disorders.

The symptoms of addiction to marijuana are:

  • Inability to cut back on usage, even when sincerely trying to
  • Taking more than intended
  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time on activities related to getting, using and recovering from marijuana
  • Issues at work, school or home and flaking on responsibilities
  • Problems with relationships related to cannabis use
  • Strong and persistent cravings
  • Missing or skipping activities you once cared about in order to use marijuana
  • Taking cannabis in ever-riskier situations, like while driving
  • Building a tolerance so you have to consume more marijuana to achieve the same highs as before
  • Using despite the clear issues it’s creating
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using or taking marijuana specifically to avoid withdrawal 

Additional signs of use and abuse are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased appetite
  • Slow reaction and poor coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Memory getting worse and worsening judgment
  • Weight gain
  • Paranoid behavior and anxiety

While there is almost no risk of overdosing on marijuana there is a notable increase in emergency room visits for those who use cannabis. Moreover, the long terms of effects of consistent use have been linked to the higher possibility for psychosis or schizophrenia in some users as well as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Respiratory problems if you smoke it
  • Problems with brain development
  • Reproductive issues during and after pregnancy

Marijuana Withdrawal

While not as intense as withdrawal from harder drugs like meth or like the delirium tremens that severe alcohol withdrawal can bring, stopping the use of marijuana is still presents its own challenges.

Most comparable to withdrawal from nicotine, withdrawal from cannabis is characterized more with discomfort than the more intense nature of other drugs.

Withdrawal looks like this:

  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Decreased appetite and possible weight loss
  • Irritable, easily agitated and moody
  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Strong cravings for marijuana

In the main, most symptoms begin within 24 to 48 hours of abstinence, peak within 4 to 6 days, and last from 1 to 3 weeks.

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Thrive Treatment's Marijuana Rehab in Los Angeles Can Help

Regardless of the perceptions and societal acceptance, marijuana is something that you can be addicted to and as such can very much necessitate proper and thorough rehab to get over.

Just like any other addiction, the physical dependence is only one part to work on. Equally, if not, more importantly, is the mental side of addiction. Marijuana addiction treatment at Thrive Treatment in Santa Monica is all about helping you work through that side of your cannabis use disorder.

Pulling from relational and behavioral methods on top of holistic, medical and psychiatric interventions we’ll develop a custom-created rehab program that’s best suited to you. With an emphasis on psychotherapy or talk therapy, you’ll be going through individual and group therapy sessions with master level clinicians. To really peel back the layers and find the why of your dependence on marijuana.

We’ll then focus on helping you develop healthy coping mechanisms for those triggers that inevitably come with daily life.

Marijuana addiction is real, don’t downplay the problem just because it’s the popular thing to do at the moment. If marijuana is holding you back from having the life you want, reach out to us at Thrive Treatment.

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“I am grateful for the immediate attention I received from Matt at Thrive Treatment℠ center. He is sensitive and caring and he graciously spent time with me and my husband to help our family situation. In just a short amount of time he made a big difference and gave us hope. He definitely is passionate about helping people and gave us great perspective and advice.”

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