When Abusing Marijuana Gets Out of Hand – What You Can Do to Heal
America has a rather relaxed view of marijuana use. TV shows make light of the effects of marijuana. Most Americans also consider this drug to be relatively harmless. Due to these reasons, marijuana use disorder is often misdiagnosed and overlooked.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), marijuana use disorder is often overlooked and untreated. However, it is much more common than you’d think. It also affects the lives of many Americans, and compromises their quality of living.
A recent study found that 30.6% of marijuana users met the diagnostic requirements for a marijuana use disorder. With most people unaware of the dangers of marijuana misuse, these numbers will surely rise with time. It won’t be long before marijuana abuse becomes an epidemic in and out of itself.
If your marijuana use has gone out of hand, read more about what you can do.
Diagnostic Criteria for a Substance Use Disorder
Before jumping the gun, you need to first determine whether you are truly addicted to weed. This drug is one of the least addictive substances out there. It’s also one of the most abused ones. Globally, about 158.8 million people worldwide use cannabis.
To determine whether you fit the criteria for marijuana use disorder, consider the diagnostic criteria used by professionals. There are 11 components involved. They include:
- Smoking or ingesting larger amount of pot than intended
- Wanting to quit using weed but being unable to
- Spending a significant amount of time using or recovering from pot use
- Having cravings and urges for cannabis
- Being unable to manage work, housework or schoolwork because of the cannabis use
- Continuing to use marijuana even when it is causing problems in your relationships
- Opting out of important social, recreational or occupational activities in favor of getting high
- Disregarding your own safety for marijuana use
- Building tolerance to the weed
- Developing withdrawal symptoms, which can only be relieved when ingesting more cannabis
- Continuing to use marijuana even when it worsens your physical or psychological state
If you meet two or three of these diagnostic criteria, you have a mild disorder. If you meet four or five of these criteria, you have a moderate disorder, and if you meet six or more of these criteria, you have a severe disorder. The more severe your disorder is, the more difficult it will be to quit.
Some recovery centers have extra criteria in their diagnostic quizzes. Answer them truthfully to get a better understanding of how bad your addiction is. These quizzes will also tell you whether an addiction treatment program is necessary.
The Addictive Properties of Marijuana
Marijuana is a lot more addictive than most people would like to believe. Data shows that 1 in 11 people who smoke weed will become addicted.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main chemical in weed that causes addiction. It’s also responsible for making you feel high. Some cannabis strains have a higher THC content than others.
Smoking those strains will result in more potent effects. For example, users may feel more high, more disoriented or might even experience hallucinations.
THC is the main agent responsible for causing the effects experienced from ingesting marijuana. You are more likely to get addicted to weed if you ingest a large concentration of THC.
In fact, the abuse of high THC strains of cannabis is the driving factor that leads to dependence, addiction and abuse. Unfortunately, many strains have been genetically modified to produce a high THC content.
On top of being addictive, it’s important to note that THC may have unwanted side effects when paired with other substances. If taken with alcohol, THC can cause blackouts to occur.
Since cannabis is quite addictive, quitting may lead to withdrawals. This makes it difficult to quit. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Problems concentrating
- Sexual dysfunction
The intensity of the symptoms will differ from person to person. Those who have smoked cannabis for a longer period of time will generally experience symptoms that are more intense.
Severity of the symptoms will also depend on how much weed was smoked on a regular basis, as well as one’s physical and mental constitution. Some people are simply more sensitive to the chemical properties in cannabis than others. Withdrawal symptoms can be so intense that they prevent addicts from quitting.
5 Reasons to Go to Rehab for Pot Addiction
The public conception of marijuana use is that it is relatively harmless. Because of this, many addicts are unsure of whether they should go to rehab or attempt to get sober alone.
Rehab offers many surprising benefits. It is highly recommended for addicts who have attempted to quit unsuccessfully by themselves or have a serious substance abuse problem. Addiction treatment programs can:
- Increase your chances of getting sober by providing you with all the resources you need
- Ensure that your road to recovery is as comfortable as possible by preventing withdrawal symptoms
- Teach you fundamental skills on how to cope with cravings to prevent relapses
- Help you mend broken or strained relationships caused by your addiction
- Help you stay both mentally and physically alive and fit by encouraging healthy changes
Medical professionals at rehab centers can design personalized treatment plans for you. The plans are based on the length of marijuana use, the amount of pot used on a regular basis and many other factors.
Levels of Care Offered at Rehab Centers
All rehab centers offer varying levels of care. This coincides with the amount of support each patient needs. When attempting to quit and become sober, it’s vital to understand what each level of care entails. The most common selections include:
- Detox programs
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)
- Partial hospitalization programs
- Inpatient treatment programs
These levels of care are often paired with other types of long-term treatment plans. These additional plans are designed to prevent relapses, and usually involve various forms of counselling and therapy.
Detox programs offer a form of short-term treatment to patients. These programs are designed specifically to treat acute withdrawal symptoms appear at first.
Most detox programs last only 3 to 10 days. During this time, patients receive around-the-clock psychiatric and medical care and supervision. Their vitals are monitored, and the staff is constantly checking in to make sure that they’re comfortable. Detox programs are quite effective in preventing intense withdrawals.
Short-term detox programs are great for those looking to quit marijuana use. This is because 80% to 90% of the psychoactive chemical properties of marijuana are excreted within 5 days from your body. This coincides with the length of the program. In short, you’ll usually curb all your cravings by the time that you’re discharged.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)
Those who need more support than what detox programs have to offer might want to take a look at Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs).
With IOPs, you’ll receive treatment from the comfort of your own home or at a sober living facility. You’ll have more freedom and won’t be under constant supervision. This type of treatment is ideal for those who want less interruption to their usual routines. They can complete errands and chores while getting treated.
The amount of appointments you’ll need to attend will depend on your treatment plan. The plan is tailored to your needs and expectations. The length of the treatment can be as short as a couple of weeks, and as long as a couple of months.
If you choose IOPs, you will need to also take part in individual therapy sessions or group therapy. This will make it much easier to stay sober. You’ll get the support that you need from others.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are often paired with IOPs. In addition to getting treatments from the comfort of your own home, you’ll also need to go to the hospital for some of the more intensive treatments. This is perfect for those who experience more serious and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Basically, you’ll get more medical supervision than if you were to only rely on IOPs. Partial hospitalization programs also include a wide array of therapies.
Inpatient Treatment Programs
Inpatient treatment programs are the most intensive options available. They are ideal for those who:
- Have difficulties quitting, and have already attempted to quit unsuccessfully many times
- Have never undergone any type of addiction treatment program before
- Have serious substance abuse issues
These types of treatment combine both medical and psychiatric care with many types of therapies. Popular choices include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and couple therapy. Nutritional therapy and recreational therapy are also getting more and more popular.
The length of inpatient treatments will vary. It is usually based on the amount of progress each patient makes during his or her stay at the facility. In general, these programs have a minimum length of 28 days although they can continue on for months. Inpatient treatment programs tend to also be the most expensive treatment option.
How to Choose a Treatment Plan
To treat marijuana abuse, it’s critical that you choose an effective treatment plan. Unfortunately, not all treatment plans will work the same for each person. Some treatment programs will be more effective than others.
Whether a treatment program will be effective will depend on several factors. Some of the factors include:
- Amount of previous quitting attempts
- Frequency and amount of marijuana used
- Length of marijuana misuse
- Whether the marijuana misuse was coupled with other types of substance abuse
- Whether there is a co-existing psychiatric condition or medical condition
- The amount of support needed from family members and friends
Each addict will have different needs that must be met for the treatment to be a success. Speak with a medical professional to determine which plan might be most beneficial to you.
Marijuana Detox Medications
The FDA hasn’t approved any medications specifically for marijuana detox yet. With that said, many recovery centers will offer certain detox medications. These medications are believed to help prevent withdrawal symptoms. Popular medications include:
Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that gets rid of jittery symptoms. It helps make patients feel much more comfortable when detoxing. Studies have also shown that withdrawal symptoms tend to subside quicker when patients take buspirone.
Both gabapentin and zolpidem can improve sleep patterns and prevent sleep problems. They are anti-epileptic medications.
Cannitrol is an organic supplement made from all-natural ingredients. It is advertised to curb cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Natural ingredients, like valerian root and St. John’s wort, are believed to:
- Calm anxiety
- Promote better sleep
- Fight off depression
So far, the public response to this supplement has been quite positive. Many long-term marijuana users have claimed that this supplement is useful and effective. They usually take these supplements at home while they attempt to detox alone.
It’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional before you attempt this. Make sure that the cannitrol won’t react with any other medications you’re currently taking.
Counselling for Marijuana Addiction
When withdrawing from cannabis, most symptoms are psychological rather than physical. There is no medical danger associated with quitting cannabis use.
As a result, the biggest obstacle in your way is yourself. You might find yourself craving for a fix long after the THC has left your system.
The best way to prevent a relapse is to take part in counselling and behavior therapies. All of which are offered at most rehab centers. The most popular types of therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Contingency Management
- Motivational Interviewing
If you are able to incorporate one or more of these therapies into your treatment plan, you will increase your chances of becoming sober. CBT involves addressing poor thoughts and behaviors. You’ll learn how to control your thinking and how to better respond to triggers. This creates a healthier mental state.
Reward yourself to drop poor behavior through contingency management. For example, you might buy yourself that purse you’ve always wanted if you are able to abstain from cannabis use for a whole week.
Motivational interviewing focuses on enhancing your own internal motivations for quitting. To stay sober, you need to have a strong desire to quit. It’s easy to fall back in the clutches of weed.
Put a Stop to Marijuana Use
If you’ve been a long time marijuana user and would like to quit, find a recovery center. They offer the resources and support needed to successfully wean off of weed for good or — at the very least — control cannabis use.
Despite the relaxed view of cannabis use, it can have some damaging effects on your physical health and social life. Depending on how long you’ve been using marijuana and the amount of pot you smoke in a day, some treatments will be better than others. Meet our staff and speak with our counselors to get a better idea of what we have to offer.