Marijuana is becoming easier and easier to obtain for both medical and recreational purposes. While attitudes towards marijuana usage may have become more relaxed, today’s marijuana has three times the concentration of THC than it did 25 years ago. The general lack of concern about marijuana addiction stigmatizes people suffering from marijuana use disorder, depicting it as something that people should be able to overcome with “will power.”
It has also led marijuana to be one of the most popularly used psychotropic substances, surpassed by only nicotine and alcohol. Marijuana usage may be viewed as safe to many young adults, but they must understand the risks of marijuana usage.
About Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana, or cannabis, is a psychotropic substance that comes from dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plant. One in ten people who use marijuana develop a substance use disorder, and this number increases to 1 in 6 if the person starts using marijuana before age 18. In 2018, 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year.
Marijuana intoxication can be dangerous because it affects a person’s timing, movements, and coordination. This can become especially harmful when operating a vehicle or exerting physical energy during an athletic performance. The average adult who seeks treatment for marijuana use disorder uses marijuana every day for more than ten years. Marijuana use becomes an addiction when a person cannot resist the urge to use it, even when it interferes with their personal or professional life or their mental or physical wellbeing.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Marijuana intoxication is usually mild and does not require medication-assisted treatment (MAT). In certain cases, benzodiazepine and antipsychotics are used during detoxification to treat more severe symptoms of marijuana use, which can include anxiety, panic, and psychosis. However, no medication has been approved by a national authority to treat marijuana symptoms. More common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include depressive mood, restlessness, disturbed sleep, and decreased appetite.
Notably, the physical symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are usually not as severe as other substances, such as alcohol and heroin, but the mental withdrawal could be just as severe and challenging to overcome. People often underestimate the mental challenges of recovery for substance use disorder, but addiction is caused by a physical change in a person’s brain. People often find the mental aspect of addiction harder to conquer than the physical one. However, both the physical and mental struggles of substance use affect one another.
Marijuana and Psychotherapy
Different types of psychotherapy can be used to treat marijuana use disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and gaining tools and skills to cope with negative thoughts and behaviors. This may include discussing triggers, learning how to handle stressful situations, and coping enhancing self-control to quit marijuana usage.
Contingency management focuses on specific negative or positive behaviors with tangible rewards to reinforce positive behavior to help the person quit using marijuana and live a healthier, more balanced life. Motivational enhancement therapy focuses on enhancing motivation in a person to want to receive treatment by utilizing the resources that the person currently possesses. This treatment is usually shorter than contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy and usually only lasts two to four sessions. In contrast, cognitive-behavioral management and motivational enhancement therapy are treatments that could last a person’s lifetime as substance use is a chronic disorder.
Vaping marijuana has become popular among the youth and gives people a quicker high making it easier for users to become addicted. Vaping marijuana is also believed to be involved in the outbreak of EVALI cases. An excess of vitamin E acetate in people’s lungs was found in people hospitalized for EVALI. Vitamin E acetate can be found as an additive in the THC levels in some forms of marijuana used for vaping and E-cigarette products. While Vitamin E may be present in some food and is okay to ingest, it interferes with normal respiratory functioning when inhaled into the lungs.
Vaping has declined after reaching its peak in August 2019. The decline of vaping is largely due to better awareness of the excess of vitamin E, removing vitamin E from certain products, and law enforcement cracking down on illicit products. There is currently not enough evidence to know if other chemicals are affecting vitamin E acetate levels in the lungs of EVALI patients. According to the CDC, on February 18, 2020, 68 deaths due to EVALI were reported and 2,807 hospitalizations. CDC has advised that people stop the use of vaping and e-cigarettes if possible. In the case of substance use disorder due to vaping, it is important that the person receives treatment.
While many people have bought into the idea that marijuana use is harmless, it can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Marijuana may not have as severe physical withdrawal symptoms as other substances, but the mental withdrawal people experience can be very powerful. Shoreline Recovery Center provides an inpatient marijuana rehab program that focuses on group and individual therapy, nutritional coaching, recreational therapies, and more.
There are many types of treatments available to people struggling with marijuana abuse, including cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) and, in certain cases, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), both of which Shoreline offers. The professionals at Shoreline are dedicated to building a treatment plan that will help you manage your specific needs and triggers. We recognize that everyone’s recovery is different and are eager to help you on your unique journey. If you or a loved one is suffering from marijuana use, please call us at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about our programs.