You’ve heard it before: “Marijuana is organic, it’s not a drug, it’s harmless, it’s safe and non-toxic.” The people who claim that want you to believe that marijuana doesn’t cause any addiction behaviors and marijuana isn’t anything to worry about. Don’t believe it.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Marijuana potency averaged a THC content of roughly 3.8 percent in the early 1990s. In 2014, it was 12.2 percent. Today the average marijuana extract contains more than 50 percent THC, with some samples exceeding 80 percent. These trends raise concerns that the consequences of marijuana use could be worse than in the past, particularly among those who are new to marijuana use or in young people, whose brains are still developing.
If your casual marijuana use has become a problem or you’ve developed an addiction to marijuana, Wavelengths can help you overcome your dependence.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. NIDA reports that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder and 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. NIDA also suggests that about 9 percent of people who abuse marijuana will develop an addiction to the drug in time. And that risk rises to 17 percent if users start a marijuana habit during the teen years, and it rises to 25-50 percent in those who use the drug every day.
Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence — in which a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Common symptoms include irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort. Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to the usage of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own neurotransmitters.
When Does Marijuana Use Become an Addiction?
According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms indicate that drug addiction is in play:
- Cravings for the drug
- Tolerance for the drug, which leads to higher doses of drugs
- Hoarding the drug
- Spending money that should go to household expenses on drugs
- Cutting back on work, hobbies, or social activities in order to use
- Taking risks while under the influence
- Failed attempts to stop using
- A need to use the drug regularly, either daily or several times per day
It’s important to note that people with marijuana addictions aren’t weak, bad, or wrong. They have a medical condition that responds to treatment, and they need help in order to recover. Think of their addiction as an illness.
Therapy is the Key to Marijuana Addiction Treatment
Therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for marijuana addiction. Therapy is designed to provide people with the ability to avoid or cope with drug use triggers, so they won’t relapse when put in sticky situations. Therapy can also provide problem-solving skills and lifestyle management, so people can learn how to build a satisfying life that doesn’t need augmentation with drugs.
Here at Wavelengths Recovery, our therapy sessions are accompanied with support group work, so people with marijuana addiction can meet others in recovery in an “each one teach one model” that builds momentum towards abstinence and sobriety. You don’t have to go it alone!