Marijuana is a Schedule I drug according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy and that is why marijuana addicts should go to rehab. This means that, contrary to popular opinion, it can be abused. The chemical in marijuana that makes it active as a drug that individuals can get high from is called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. The high that can be achieved will vary by the individual and can be a lax and laid back experience, while others may have distorted perceptions. These thoughts and feelings can last for up to a week after the last time it was taken.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
It is common to see long-term users of marijuana say they aren’t addicted, that marijuana itself isn’t addictive. However, studies have shown that 9 percent, which is one for every eleven people, of those individuals that use marijuana become dependent on the drug. If the drug was started when they were young, in their teens for example, the number rises. For those younger users, the number is one in six, nearly double the risk factor. With addiction comes many signs and symptoms of the use. There is also the chance of withdrawal symptoms if the person goes without the drug, including insomnia, anxious behavior, cravings, and irritability.
What are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?
There are separate symptoms of marijuana use, both behavioral and physical. Not every sign and symptom will be seen in every individual, but this list includes some of the signs that are most common. You or your own loved one may exhibit other signs not included on this list as well.
- Normal personality turning into aversion and avoidance
- Lowered personal hygiene
- Pulling away from family
- Change of friends or favored hangouts
- Lowered work performance, or lowered scores in school
- No motivation
- Lowered participation in sports, activities, hobbies, and social arrangements
These behavioral actions can be attributed to “just a teenager” or explained away with other things, but if you as a parent or loved one see these signs, start looking further into the person and see if there are signs of abuse. Marijuana has a very tell-tale odor that lingers in the air, clothes, and skin of users.
- Slurred or very slowed speech
- Eyes that are bloodshot, they’ll use plenty of eyedrops
- Increased hunger
Many of these can be signs of a serious medical condition, so get that ruled out first. If there is no medical reason for the actions, these are some of the easiest ways to tell a recent drug taking or a chronic and long-term drug problem.
Conditions Caused by Marijuana Addiction
There are several health conditions that continued marijuana use can bring on. These include psychotic reactions that can raise the risk of schizophrenia, an increase in heart attack risk, respiratory illness, and lowered IQ in younger individuals. Many studies on the detrimental effects of marijuana use have been documented. In 2011, two studies found serious risks. In one study they found out of 18 million people that have taken the drug, over 4.2 million, could meet the standard of criteria that they were abusers. 4.2 million is well over the amount of heroin users, and those taking cocaine, tranquilizers, pain medications, and hallucinogens….combined. It is often called the “gateway drug” as many believe that a pot addiction makes the individual have lowered inhibitions and more apt to take harder drugs like meth and coke. Pot use is never something to be complacent about, thinking it is “just pot.”
Treatment Options for Marijuana Users
Studies have found that when abusers of marijuana seek treatment, the average time of use is ten years. These ten-year plus users have also tried to quit the drug an average of six times before they enter drug rehabilitation. Clearly, additional treatment options are needed to kick this addictive substance than the cold turkey method. So, here are some treatments that work, or can be used to help abusers:
- MET – Motivational enhancement therapy
- Group CBT – Cognitive-behavioral therapy in a group setting
- Individual CBT – Cognitive-behavioral therapy in a one-on-one setting
- CM – Contingency management
The Reasons for Rehab
Cold turkey methods of sobriety can cause an individual to have bad withdrawals, some that can be detrimental to one’s health. Kicking a drug, pot included, under the medical supervision of a rehabilitation facility can make the abuser lead a sober lifestyle after completion. With therapy that is molded to their needs, marijuana abusers can be taught coping mechanisms to deal with issues that may have made them pick up the drug in the first place. Rehab is a great way to get clean and sober and get one’s life back.
Talking to Your Loved One About Abuse and Rehab
There are a couple of ways you can go about showing your loved one the severity of their abuse and the way it is affecting the family unit. No matter which you choose, or if you talk to them in another form, trying to get through to them to seek help is never easy. While rehab is better when the user is willing, remember that studies do show that willingness to get help does not assure sobriety, and many who go into rehab not wanting help can find a healthier lifestyle too.
- Family or One-on-One Intervention – Whether it is a group of family and friends, or just you and the abuser, sitting down to talk openly is sometimes the best way to get through to a user. Let them know that they aren’t being attacked, rather it is the love and care you have for them that has led to this action. Try to find out why the abuse is happening, whether it is a coping mechanism or a means to escape.
- Evaluation – Sometimes when interventions and family discussions aren’t working, the person seeks to bring in a provider to talk to the abuser. While not the best method, sometimes a third party can shine a light to the abuser and show them how their actions are hurting themselves and others, helping them seek treatment.