Although legislation regarding marijuana continues to change its legal status, the drug’s addictive potential has not changed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 43.5 million Americans aged 12 and older used marijuana in 2017, 10% of whom had an identifiable marijuana use disorder.
Here’s what you need to know about marijuana addiction and how it can be treated.
Marijuana Addiction: From Use to Dependence to Addiction
A Schedule I drug, marijuana belongs to the same class of drugs as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, meaning its potential for abuse is extremely high. Many people choose to use marijuana for relaxation or stress relief or other reasons including:
- Relief from mental health challenges
- Peer pressure
- Relief from tension and frustration
- Escape from boredom
- Escape from stress and overwhelming emotions
- Assuming that its harmless to try
Whether they’re simply curious or are looking to escape boredom or stress, the majority of people who use marijuana expect the drug’s high to meet their needs.
After smoking or vaping marijuana, THC enters the bloodstream almost immediately via the lungs. Typically, its concentration in the blood peaks within the first 30 minutes after inhaling. Edibles, on the other hand, move through the digestive system. They take longer to process, producing a high anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours after consumption. How a person responds to marijuana depends on the dose, strain, potency, method of use, age, and physiology. But generally, people high on marijuana tend to feel:
- Sensitive to light, color, sound, touch, taste, and smell
At the same time, THC can also have some adverse effects including:
- Delusions and hallucinations
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
Although the high produced from smoking marijuana can last for several hours, the intensity tends to decrease after the first hour or so. The high resulting from edibles, on the other hand, can last upwards of 9 hours, with the peak effects diminishing after 1 to 3 hours.
THC, which has traveled through the bloodstream and attached itself to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, begins to disrupt physical and mental functioning. That’s why the morning after smoking or consuming high levels of marijuana, users start to experience the hangover. Mostly, users experiencing a hangover feel groggy, hazy and lethargic. Other marijuana hangover symptoms include:
- Diminished alertness and depth perception
- Memory loss for up to 7 days
- Dry mouth
- Headaches and migraines
Some people continue to use marijuana to return to their previous state of relaxation. Unfortunately, the more they use, the more the brain becomes accustomed to high levels of THC in the body. Over time, and with consistent use, the brain’s tolerance for THC increases and the individual becomes dependent upon marijuana in order to feel normal.
At this point, the user’s tolerance for marijuana has increased so they need larger amounts of the drug to feel their original high. If the user doesn’t meet the demand, they will begin to experience withdrawal.
Despite the myths that marijuana is harmless, research shows that approximately 30% of people who abuse marijuana will become addicted.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Use
As marijuana use becomes more prevalent in our society, it’s important that family, friends, and co-workers recognize the signs and symptoms of marijuana use. Common indications a loved one is using marijuana include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Increased appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Weight gain
- Nervous or paranoid behavior
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Dry mouth
- Impaired judgment and memory
- Distorted perception
- Relaxed state, sleepiness
- Looking “high” or extremely euphoric
Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal
Once users are dependent upon marijuana, quitting isn’t easy. The brain, now dependent upon a certain level of THC, yearns for more THC when levels suddenly drop or disappear. This shock to the system provokes symptoms of withdrawal. Some of the most common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive salivation
- Decreased pulse
- Mood swings
- Aggressive behavior
- Inability to focus
- Sweating, including cold sweats
- Stomach problems
- Cravings for marijuana
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and range from person to person. But usually, the longer you’ve used marijuana, the more likely you are to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment and Rehab
A lot of people try to quit marijuana on their own, but holistic treatment for addiction is best received at a treatment center. Here at Solution Based Treatment & Detox, we treat marijuana addiction in three main steps:
- Detox, or removing marijuana from the body
- Enrolling in a rehabilitation treatment program
- Participating in recovery activities and peer support groups
Our detox program begins with a careful evaluation by an addiction recovery specialist. Unlike a home detox, our detox process is clinically supervised. We also offer around-the-clock medical supervision which ensures our clients have a safe detox process. After detox is complete, our clients enroll in either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Our residential or inpatient program provides clients the treatment they need while living onsite. Our intensive outpatient program allows clients to receive treatment while continuing to live at home. In both programs, clients participate in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and individual and group counseling.
Some of the recovery activities we recommend during inpatient and outpatient treatment include:
Quick Facts and FAQs about Marijuana Use
What is Marijuana?
- Marijuana is produced from the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plants. Marijuana is made up of the shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis plant. This mixture typically is green, brown, or gray in color and may resemble tobacco. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States.
Why do people use Marijuana?
- The drug is most often used because its primary active chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), induces relaxation and heightens the senses. Although THC is the most well-known chemical found in marijuana, the drug can contain more than 500 chemicals in total. Although controversial, many people believe medical marijuana helps provide relief for insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain. It is also used to help treat and provide pain relief from some life-threatening conditions like cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
How Is Marijuana consumed?
- Users typically smoke marijuana as a cigarette (known as a joint) or in a pipe, often called a bong. Users also smoke marijuana using blunts, or hollowed-out cigars or cigarettes refilled with marijuana. Vaping, which is particularly popular among young adults, allows people to consume marijuana in a vapor-like form. Additionally, marijuana is often mixed into food like brownies, cookies, tea or candies called edibles.
Is Marijuana legal?
- While marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, it is legal in 11 states for adults over the age of 21, and legal for medical use in 33 states.
What are some other names for Marijuana?
- Marijuana has hundreds of street names. Some of the most popular nicknames include weed, 420, pot, reefer, grass, dope, mary jane, skunk, herb, trees, cush, jay, and buds.
If you or a loved one are struggling with marijuana addiction or an addiction of any kind, don’t hesitate to call our offices today at 877-309-4311.
We Know From Experience
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We pride ourselves on creating a warm, relaxed recovery environment where our clients can show their true selves.
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Medical detox is a critical first step in recovery, which is why we provide supervised medical detox in-house.
Every client benefits from a fully personalized treatment and plan of care, helping them recover and reach their unique goals.