Marijuana is one of the most abused drugs in the United States, with over six million people struggling with a marijuana use disorder (MUD), according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). However, many people do not seek help for types of addiction, such as marijuana. Understanding the signs and dangers of marijuana abuse is the first step in getting help for a loved one.
At Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery in Nampa, Idaho, our facility offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs to help people and their loved ones who are struggling with the cycle of addiction to various substances successfully recover.
Marijuana, also known as Cannabis among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the sativa plant. Native to Central or South Asia, this plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries. Marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States. Marijuana users may experience a wide range of health effects on the body and brain.
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 compounds (or cannabinoids). These compounds include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is impairing or mind-altering, as well as over 400 other active compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD). The mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC is what makes it an addictive substance. Street names for marijuana include:
- Mary Jane
The effects of marijuana use vary depending on the person. When smoking marijuana, the THC passes from the lungs to the bloodstream very quickly. It can take 45 minutes to an hour to start feeling the effects when consumed as an edible.
FORMS OF MARIJUANA
Marijuana comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Hash oil
- Wax or budder
Dabbing is becoming an increasingly popular way to use marijuana. However, it is highly concentrated, and the mode of use can cause bodily injury.
Marijuana is one of the most abused drugs in the world. In the United States, marijuana abuse is widespread. Additionally, the belief that marijuana is dangerous is decreasing, leading more teens to use the drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Studies are ongoing about the use of medical marijuana to treat various illnesses. While the FDA has approved the use of cannabinoids in some medications, they have not approved the marijuana plant for medical use. The drug is considered legalized in some states, but still an illicit drug in others.
Marijuana addiction also known as cannabis use disorder is a highly debated topic. While many people don’t think you can become addicted to marijuana, research shows approximately 9% of users develop a marijuana use disorder. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 1 in 11 people who use marijuana become addicted.
IS MARIJUANA A GATEWAY DRUG?
Due to users’ propensity to experiment with other drugs after consuming marijuana, it has been given the moniker “gateway drug.” But there is a valid basis for this designation. After starting to use it, a person finds themselves running after the high it creates, although it can be challenging to accomplish.
MARIJUANA USE DISORDER VS MARIJUANA ADDICTION
The physical dependence on the drug characterizes marijuana use disorder. It is more common than marijuana addiction. While the addictive qualities of marijuana are debated, addiction happens when the brain changes sensitivity in the endocannabinoid system.
Marijuana addiction is characterized by the inability to control how much a person uses. Like other drug addictions, marijuana addiction can negatively affect a person’s life.
Anyone can develop a marijuana addiction. However, people develop different levels of dependence and addiction. A variety of factors increase a person’s risk of developing a substance abuse problem. These risk factors include:
- A lack of family involvement – When parents and family members are not involved in a child’s life, it increases their risk of developing a substance use disorder.
- Family history of addiction – When a child has a parent or close family member struggling with addiction, it increases their risk of developing an addiction.
- Mental health disorders – People who struggle with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, are more likely to develop an addiction.
MARIJUANA ADDICTION STATISTICS
Last year, 5.5 million youth and young adults had a cannabis use disorder in the United States. Idaho ranks 29th for marijuana use. According to the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, in the past year, 15.9% of individuals ages 12 and older used marijuana.
While that is a high percentage, it is lower than the national average of 17.7%. As a result, 1 in 6 young adults who use marijuana become addicted to the drug or develop a marijuana use disorder.
According to the Restricted Substances Act and Idaho law, marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. As a result, it is prohibited to use marijuana or sell it in Idaho for any reason.
Marijuana addiction can cause issues that can affect a person’s overall well-being. While it affects every person differently, drug use may cause various physical and mental problems. A marijuana rehab program is necessary for recovery.
- Impaired learning
- Increased appetite
- Disorganized thinking
- Impaired senses
- Altered sense of time
- Mood swings
- Trouble problem-solving
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Memory problems
- Bronchial asthma
- Increases the risk of addiction
Aftercare programs benefit alumni or people who complete the program and live a life free of marijuana. Aftercare offers support for those who need the support and accountability to stay sober. In these weekly meetings, people can discuss personal issues, receive and give encouragement, and support each other through the challenges of recovery.
- Breathing problems
- Increased risk of lung infections
- Increased heart rate
- Weakened immune system
- Suicidal thoughts
When marijuana is abused at a young age, it can lead to impaired brain development. Furthermore, marijuana addiction can cause psychological issues like anxiety and depression.
According to NIDA, people who use large amounts of marijuana also report more relationship issues and have lower satisfaction with life. Heavy use can also make users participate in dangerous behaviors.
If you suspect a loved one is abusing marijuana or has an addiction, they need to seek treatment for marijuana dependency and addiction. Awareness of the signs of abuse is the first step to getting them help.
Common signs of marijuana abuse and addiction include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Eating more
- Lacking motivation
- Gaining weight
- Being nervous or paranoid
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Dry mouth
- Memory issues
- Impaired judgment
- Distorted perception
- Sleepiness or relaxed state
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Continuing to use it despite the consequences
It is important not to accuse or diagnose a person of having an addiction without seeking a professional opinion.
Our evidence-based treatment methods can help people at any stage of marijuana addiction. While treatment is not a cure, it can help you rebuild a life free from marijuana use. Depending on the level of marijuana addiction, a variety of treatment programs are available. These programs include:
- Medical detox
- Residential or Inpatient treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Sober living
People with a marijuana addiction often experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Sometimes withdrawal symptoms such as cravings can be challenging to overcome, causing a person to relapse.
The best way to successfully detox is through a medical detox program. Detoxification provides medical supervision and medication if needed to keep a person with substance abuse comfortable during withdrawals.
Common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- Panic attacks
- Intestinal issues
- Weight loss
Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal from marijuana typically lasts four to five days, depending on addiction severity and other factors such as co-occurring mental health issues and other drug use. However, the following is a general timeline for withdrawal symptoms. Dual diagnosis treatment in Idaho is necessary to recover from dependency and addiction.
- 24 hours after last use: General feelings of discomfort, including irritability, anxiety, and insomnia
- 2 to 3 days after the previous use: Withdrawal symptoms typically peak and may include sweating, chills, stomach pains, and intense cravings
- 4 to 5 days after last use: Most withdrawal symptoms have disappeared, but cravings and psychological symptoms such as anxiety may linger for weeks
Once medical detox is complete, it is time to transition to marijuana addiction treatment.
Marijuana use disorders exhibit similarities to other substance use disorders, although the long-term clinical outcomes may be less severe. Adults seeking treatment for marijuana use disorders typically have a history of daily marijuana use spanning over a decade and have made multiple unsuccessful attempts to quit. Individuals with marijuana use disorders, particularly adolescents, often experience comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders.
They may also engage in the use or addiction of other substances like cocaine or alcohol. Available research suggests that effectively addressing the mental health disorder using standard treatments involving medications and behavioral therapies may help reduce marijuana use, especially among heavy users and those with chronic mental disorders.
The FDA has not yet approved any medications for the treatment of marijuana use disorder; however, there is ongoing research in this field. Since sleep issues are a common symptom of marijuana withdrawal, some studies are investigating the effectiveness of sleep-aid medications.
Additionally, researchers are also exploring the effects of other substances such as FAAH inhibitors, which prevent the breakdown of the body’s cannabinoids and may help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Future research will focus on investigating allosteric modulators, substances that interact with cannabinoid receptors to inhibit the rewarding effects of THC.
Treatment should be comprehensive, encompassing the individual as a whole, and not solely focused on their cannabis use disorder. There are various alternatives accessible, such as medical detoxification, residential therapy, outpatient care, and post-treatment support, which can be tailored to accommodate the distinct requirements of each person. The following behavioral treatments have demonstrated promise:
Residential or inpatient marijuana addiction treatment is a live-in treatment program. These programs provide 24-hour supervision and support throughout the recovery process. People with severe addiction, those with lasting withdrawal symptoms, or who have a high risk of relapse benefit most from inpatient treatment.
Not everyone can step away from life’s responsibilities like family, work, and school to attend inpatient treatment. However, there are a variety of outpatient marijuana addiction treatment programs that allow people to attend treatment while still handling their daily responsibilities.
Outpatient programs offer the same psychotherapy and group therapy programs as inpatient programs. However, they do not shield a person from the stressors and triggers of the outside world.
Types of outpatient marijuana addiction treatment programs include:
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- General outpatient program
Substance use disorder is a chronic disease and needs lifelong treatment. Although marijuana isn’t considered a “hard” drug, relapse is always possible. For this reason, it is recommended that people continue with psychotherapy and attend support groups for marijuana addiction.
Aftercare programs benefit alumni or people who complete the program and live a life free of marijuana. Aftercare offers support for those who need the support and accountability to stay sober.
Aftercare programs offer weekly meetings. In these meetings, people can discuss personal issues, receive and give encouragement, and support each other through the challenges of recovery.
Sober living programs help people transition from rehab to living independently. Sober living houses provide safe, supportive, and drug-free environments. People are required to follow the house rules and continue with treatment.
Benefits of sober living include:
- Provides a safe, drug-free environment
- Keeps people accountable for their sobriety
- Gives guidance as people practice life skills and learn to live responsibly
- Builds relationships and bonds with others in recovery
These programs offer employment and education assistance to help people further better their future. Furthermore, people are expected to pay rent, pass random drug tests, and be accountable for their recovery goals.
Recovery from marijuana addiction is possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Eagle Creek Ranch can help. Our marijuana rehab programs have proven to help people with a dependency on marijuana. Contact us today to find out more.
Kendall Maloof is the clinical director at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has held multiple leadership roles before settling here at Eagle Creek. Kendall received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Her career in mental and behavioral health began in 2014 when she took up internships in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She interned at multiple reputable companies, such as The Living Success Center and 449 Recovery in California.
In 2019, Kendall became the clinical director of Sunsets Recovery for Woman, a dual diagnosis program in southern California. Kendall is a natural leader. She has an incredible ability to problem solve and stay calm in any situation. Kendall never fails to show up when she is needed, and her calm demeanor makes her team and clients feel at ease. Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery is proud to have Kendall as our clinical director.