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Smoking pot is a seemingly harmless feat for some, but for those who have fallen victim to marijuana addiction and the stronghold that this disease has on their lives, there’s nothing harmless about this drug. Marijuana addiction can be devastating and difficult to overcome. Complications from prolonged use can wreak havoc on the user making recovery seem like an impossible situation.
What is Marijuana Addiction?
Marijuana addiction is the result of smoking pot on a regular and consistent basis to the point in which the body develops a physical and psychological dependency on the drug. The physical and psychological symptoms of marijuana addiction are often not as prevalent or dangerous as those associated with opiates or other drugs but this doesn’t lessen the risks that are involved with smoking pot.
Marijuana use can lead to anxiety, paranoia, depression and an array of mental health problems that require a wide range of treatment and even medication intervention in order to heal. What seems like a harmless routine of regularly smoking pot with friends, can quickly spiral out of control into a daily habit in which the user is focused on nothing more than how and when he or she will get high next.
Is Marijuana Really Dangerous?
According to NIDA, “marijuana affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent.” Recent studies have found that those who smoke pot regularly have lower IQ, lose cognitive ability and often suffer from mental illness the results from the continued and excessive use of this drug.
Is it dangerous? Absolutely!
Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that, “marijuana makes you feel like time is slowing down, minutes can feel like hours. At the same time, everyday signs, sounds, and tastes may seem really interesting or funny.” Some of the early signs of marijuana abuse include:
- bloodshot eyes
- laughing uncontrollably
- laughing out of place when something isn’t funny
- forgetting things like important events or a conversation that recently took place
- getting dizzy or fainting
Users who smoke pot will initially feel the tolerance that develops when early addiction is setting in. This tolerance is the result of the body adapting to the marijuana use and it causes the user to require more and more of the drug in order to produce the same effects. As tolerance continues to build, the following signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction may become evident to the user or to outsiders:
- withdrawal symptoms when not smoking pot
- smoking more pot than intended
- making promises to quit but continuing to smoke pot
- promising to cut back and continuing to over use the drug
- spending time, usually excessive amounts, on getting high or searching for drugs
- lying about drug use
- smoking pot even though it has caused problems with health, socially or otherwise
- smoking pot despite the legal repercussions that can arise
- using pot as a primary means of calming down or relaxing
According to the Center for Student Health Promotion and Well-Being, withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana use can include:
- loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- weight loss
- loss of motivation
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Although there are no medications that are currently approved for the treatment of marijuana addiction, NIDA reports that, “recent discoveries about the workings of the endocannabinoid system offer promise for the development of medications to ease withdrawal, block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.” Without medication, there are still a number of effective treatment options available to assist those who are addicted to marijuana in making a full recovery. Options include:
According to NIDA, MET and CBT are two commonly used methods of therapy that can help those who are addicted to marijuana to recover. NIDA explains that, “CBT focuses on teaching patients skills relevant to quitting marijuana and avoiding or managing other problems that may interfere with good outcomes.” MET focuses on helping patients to become stronger and more willing to change. Each of these types of therapy as well as other methods of therapy can be used to help people overcome marijuana addiction.
Additional types of therapy include:
- multidimensional family therapy
- motivational therapy
- community reinforcement
- motivational enhancement therapy
Support groups such as Marijuana Anonymous, NA and other twelve step recovery groups can help those in recovery to remain strong and to stay on the path to sobriety. Requirements for membership into most support groups are simple:
- the individual must be in recovery or must want to be in recovery
- the individual must be willing to support others
- the individual must be open to healing and change
Each of these support groups will provide those in recovery with a foundation upon which they can grow and heal.
Marijuana Addiction Recovery
Marijuana addiction recovery doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not a simple process. Even once you have made your way through treatment and have found a life of sobriety, there’s still always a chance that relapse will occur. If you relapse, it’s important to get back on the path to recovery as quickly as possible. Don’t worry about the fact that you made a mistake, studies show that more than half of all people who are addicted will relapse at some point in their recovery and will require additional help to get their lives back on track.
Look to support from:
- support groups
- other people in recovery
- your local clergy
- online support groups
- support forums
- aftercare programs
Ultimately, your marijuana addiction recovery will be very much dependent upon the support that you receive so be open to support, seek help often and know that you are not in this alone.