Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world, with the exception of alcohol. Much of the stigma surrounding its use has disappeared, especially in some parts of the United States, within the past decade. However, marijuana dependence can be a serious and even devastating addiction, and while the health effects of cannabis abuse are milder than those of many other drugs, there are still risks.
Marijuana dependence can be injurious to relationships, employment, and health. Addicts often cite marital problems, poor financial situations, a lack of energy, and memory problems as a direct result of their cannabis use.
Long-term exposure to cannabis smoke can cause respiratory problems and even lung cancer. Studies suggest that this drug could cause brain damage after years of heavy use, and may be responsible for low birth weight and birth defects in babies whose mothers used it.
Also known as weed, dope, grass, green, Mary Jane, pot, and herb, cannabis is considered by most users as incapable of causing addiction. Whether marijuana can cause a physical addiction is still debated in the medical community, but it can cause a strong psychological dependence.
Many users smoke more of the drug than they normally would because they falsely believe that addiction is not possible. However, withdrawal when the cannabis use is stopped is real enough, with difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, headaches, and difficulty concentrating some of the most prominent symptoms.
A large number of marijuana users also abuse another substance, often cocaine, alcohol, or prescription pills. Tobacco use is also commonly associated with cannabis use. Many addicts struggle with dual diagnosis disorders, or an addiction paired with a mental disorder. Some disorders that commonly occur along with marijuana addiction include:
While it is unclear exactly why substance abuse occurs so often with other disorders, co-occurring disorders almost always make each other worse. When a patient with anxiety, for example, smokes cannabis to ease feelings of anxiety, they may feel more anxious after the effects of the cannabis wear off. Then the patient will use even more marijuana, making the chances of addiction greater, and will feel even more anxious when not under the influence.
The signs and symptoms of a dependence on cannabis are similar to the signs of dependence on other illicit substances.
Like the symptoms, the treatment for cannabis dependence is similar to the treatment for other types of substance addictions. Pharmacotherapy, or the use of prescription medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, is rarely needed, although some recovering addicts use sleep aids during the detox phase.
However, as cannabis dependence is largely a mental addiction, and psychotherapy has proven to be an effective treatment. Whether a patient's particular recovery therapies include group therapy, behavioral therapies, or family-based therapies, many forms of psychotherapy can be utilized to break an addiction and help a patient regain control of their life.
If you are abusing marijuana or think you might be addicted, the professionals at Drug Treatment Centers Minneapolis can help. Give them a call today at (612) 216-0058 .