Marijuana Addiction Information

Marijuana offers users a relaxing high that alters the senses, perception of time, increases hunger and can affect motor skills. The legality of the drug does not sit well with some doctors and US citizens. The drug has always been seen as a staple of counter-culture in the 1960s; they were known as "hippies." Later, marijuana users were called "stoners." Today, many people across all cultures and economic status smoke or ingest weed, and in some states, it's legal.

The concern over the legality of the drug has a lot to do with the fear of the drug and widespreadaddiction. Learn more about the drug, signs of abuse, and when it's time to get help.

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What is Marijuana?

Cannabis is also known as marijuana, pot, weed, and hundreds of other names. It is considered a psychoactive drug and medication. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the potent chemical that causes mind-altering sensations. Marijuana is usually smoked and eaten. Recently, it's become popular to "dab." Dabbing is the smoking of cannabis resins. These come in form of oils or wax. Pot is the most widely used recreational drug in the world. Although it has been used for spiritual and religious purposes, it is used by the general population. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis in 2013.

Marijuana Comes in Many Forms

Since its legalization in many US states, including Colorado, the market is open for new marijuana products. Entrepreneurs and business owners are taking full advantage by creating innovative ways to use this popular drug.

  • Smoking - The most common way to use marijuana is by smoking. It is often dried and smoked rolled in paper like a cigarette (also called a "joint") or through a pipe. As mentioned before, dabbing has become a popular way to smoke marijuana resin. Vaporizers and other "rigs" are used to dab.
  • Edibles - This popular method of ingesting marijuana has seen a flood of products on the legal marijuana market. Cookies, candies and teas are just some ways people choose to ingest marijuana. These recipes use cannabis oil or "cannabutter," butter infused with cannabis.
  • Topically -Topical cannabis lotions and ointments do not contain psychoactive compounds. Medically, it can be used to reduce inflammation and treat arthritis. Some topicals do contain active THC, but they don't seem to create a mind-altering "high."
  • Sublingually (on the tongue) - Due to the concentration of blood vessels under the tongue, this is an optimal area for absorption of marijuana. The drug is usually administered via a dropper. In this case, the pot is made into an oil or tincture. This concentrated liquid may or may not contain THC. For medical purposes, the THC may be removed in order for the user to get the other benefits of the cannabinoids. In terms of safety, this method is safer for people who need to avoid the lung damage caused by smoking.

With the variety of methods a person can use marijuana, it's no wonder it's such a trendy drug, but does that mean more people are becoming addicted?

A Misused Drug Due to Popularity

Marijuana use has become extremely commonplace. Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia all allow for medical and recreational use of the drug. This new cultural acceptance may be a boon to businesses all over the US, but for those who have substance abuse issues, it can increase the temptation to use and abuse marijuana. Although a chemical addiction to marijuana is less common than other drugs, it's an easy drug to abuse. Misuse is really the problem when it comes to marijuana.

According to NIDA, "Recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults. People who use marijuana frequently often report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to two weeks. Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters."

Marijuana Dependence Symptoms

Long-term substance abuse and addiction permanently changes the brain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says, "This is why a person who abuses drugs eventually feels flat, lifeless, and depressed, and is unable to enjoy things that were previously pleasurable. Now, the person needs to keep taking drugs again and again just to try and bring his or her dopamine function back up to normal - which only makes the problem worse, like a vicious cycle. Also, the person will often need to take larger amounts of the drug to produce the familiar dopamine high - an effect known as tolerance." Marijuana can do similar things to the brain, especially to adolescents.

According to Narconon, marijuana users also experience drug withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • "Anger, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression
  • Chills, stomach pains, shaking, sweating
  • Decreased appetite, sleep difficulties, bad dreams, nausea

These symptoms are not normally severe but they may need help resisting the cravings that probably will last for weeks or months."

For teens, using pot can be even more dangerous in the long-term.

Pot Use in Teenagers

Teenagers have a lot to lose from chronically using marijuana. The brains of adolescents are still developing, but when using drugs, brain chemistry can be altered permanently. Teens are also more likely to participate in reckless behavior while intoxicated. Here are some other risks marijuana abuse poses to teens:

Poor school performance

Students who smoke bud get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of school compared to their sober classmates. Chronic use can lead to attention, memory and learning issues.

Depression

Research is emerging that people who use marijuana often may have lower life satisfaction. They are less happy and have more negative experiences with family and friends.

Using other drugs

Although to call marijuana a "gateway" drug may not be entirely accurate, many who chose to smoke pot are more likely to do other drugs. It's hypothesized that this is because a brain exposed too early to addictive behaviors can make other drugs more appealing. By doing one drug, a teen is more likely be exposed to other drugs.

Increased risk of DUI

This underestimated risk is shared by both teens and adults. Marijuana lowers reaction time, making driving risky. A teen may be less alert and less coordinated while driving. Even adding a small amount of alcohol to this situation adds to the danger.

How Medical Marijuana is Used

Understanding the difference between recreational bud and medical marijuana is important. Currently, marijuana is not FDA approved for medical use, though it is sold in states where it is deemed legal.

According to the FDA, "The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. The agency has, however, approved two drugs containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and one other drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana. Although the FDA has not approved any drug product containing or derived from botanical marijuana, the FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders."

There is a lot of hope that medical marijuana can be used to treat a variety of medical disorders. NIDA claims there may be another reason medical marijuana can be helpful. Preliminary studies are suggesting medical marijuana legalization may be associated with a decrease in prescription opioid use and deaths caused by overdose. Again, the studies are only preliminary. NIDA claims that a study is needed that looks more closely at not just marijuana legality, but the number of opioids prescribed, self-reports of opioid misuse, and treatment admissions for opioid addicts. So, it's too soon to know for certain if the legalization of medical marijuana is saving the lives of opioid addicts.

Can Marijuana Be Used with Other Drugs or Medications?

According to Mayo Clinic, "Marijuana may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®)."

Weed may also affect blood sugar levels. If you are taking blood sugar medication or believe you may be at risk for diabetes, be sure to check with your doctor. It may also cause low blood pressure in some people.

Although there is no recorded instance of someone dying from marijuana overdose alone, drug interactions can increase this risk. If you are planning to use pot with medical issues, be sure to check with a healthcare professional. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, you can talk to our team of rehab professionals to get started on a treatment plan.

Available Treatments for Marijuana Dependence

Marijuana dependence should be taken seriously. Inpatient and outpatient options are available in addition to the following:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - This helps addicts overcome their bud abuse by teaching them to avoid triggers that lead to a pattern of addiction. The negative thoughts and behaviors that lead to drug abuse are identified and managed. Cravings are avoided by staying away from those triggers. Stress coping skills and thoughtfulness help patients avoid destructive behaviors.

Therapeutic communities - These are sober communities that limit the amount of triggers an addiction patient may face. It's a long-term solution for those with drug addictions, but it is also useful for people who suffer fromco-occurring mental health disorders. Patients and therapists often live in the same community for around-the-clock support.

For patient that abuse multiple drugs, the treatment plan should be expanded to include those. All drug and alcohol abuse must be addressed in order to stop using pot.

What To Do Next if You Believe You Have a Marijuana Addiction

AspenRidge's North facility is ready to help you get started on finding the right treatment for your marijuana addiction. Ourprograms offer you a variety of flexible options to get you back on track. Through a combination ofoutpatient and inpatient care, your life doesn't have to come to a sudden halt.

Marijuana addiction can lead to risky behavior. Don't wait until it's too late. Our experienced, licensed team will get you the therapies you need to treat your addiction and any other co-occurring disorder you may be dealing with.Contact us today.

  • Abuse, National Institute on Drug. "Drugs and the Brain." NIDA. National Institute of Drug Abuse, July 2014. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • "How to Help Someone Stop Weed." Narconon International. Http://www.narconon.org/drug-rehab/help-someone-stop-weed.html, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United. "STATUS AND TREND ANALYSIS OF ILLICT DRUG MARKETS." CHAPTER I (2015): 1-40. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. UNODC. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • Abuse, National Institute on Drug. "Is Marijuana Addictive?" NIDA. National Institute of Drug Abuse, Apr. 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • Abuse, National Institute on Drug. "Marijuana as Medicine." NIDA. National Institute of Drug Abuse, Apr. 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • Commissioner, Office Of the. "Public Health Focus - FDA and Marijuana." U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Office of the Commissioner, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.
  • Drug Abuse for Teens, National Institute of. "Marijuana." NIDA for Teens. National Institute of Drug Abuse for Teens, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.