Marijuana Dependence Disorder Explained

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Marijuana Dependence Disorder Explained

Marijuana is a substance that most people have tried at least once in their lives. Over half of the United States’ population has used Marijuana in some form. Today, it is almost as socially acceptable to use marijuana as it is to drink alcohol. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of people struggling with marijuana dependency while believing that their addiction is not a problem.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Not only do people with substance use disorder suffer from denial and the delusion that they have their drug use under control, but because marijuana seems harmless, many people believe that dependency is impossible. It’s commonly said that “you can’t get addicted to pot” and yet we live in a world today where nearly 4 million people are reportedly dependent on marijuana. Marijuana also accounts for 67 percent of adolescent substance use treatment admissions.

Another misconception is the idea that people who enter treatment for substance abuse as a result of using “harder” drugs can continue using marijuana. This is completely false. Marijuana is said to be a gateway drug. Once an addict begins using it, they will find themselves craving different and stronger highs. Even if marijuana was not their drug of choice, using it will eventually lead these individuals back to their preferred substance.

Marijuana Withdrawals

Fortunately, marijuana is not associated with severe withdrawal symptoms like cocaine or heroin. The withdrawal symptoms you might experience include shaking, irritability, insomnia, and restlessness. Keep in mind that marijuana has a sedating effect and as a result, can lead to feelings of laziness and a lack of motivation. These are learned behaviors that will require work to overcome.

In the early stages of your recovery, you may find yourself struggling to get yourself to meetings, get a sponsor, attend therapy, do service work, and do any sort of life activity that requires action as a result of long term marijuana use. Learning to be a productive member of society may feel overwhelming at first, but if you commit to showing up a day at a time, things get easier.

Health Concerns Associated with Marijuana Use

Consistent marijuana use can lead to health problems like heart and/or respiratory conditions.
Additionally, marijuana dependence goes hand in hand with poor mental health. According to researchers, these problems may persist long after abstinence. For example, marijuana has been found to trigger episodes of psychosis in vulnerable people. Furthermore, nearly half of people who have been or are now dependent on marijuana have co-occurring addiction and/or mental health disorders.

While research has yet to decide if marijuana dependence or mental health disorders come first, we do know that there is a strong link between the two. Either way, using marijuana while struggling with a mental health disorder can be extremely dangerous.

The Research

One particular study concluded that out of the 20,000 people in the sample population, 336 of them had a history of marijuana dependence. Among the marijuana users, 35 percent had experienced depression lasting two weeks or more and 27 percent suffered from generalized anxiety– constant worry that is difficult to control. These numbers were significantly higher than those found among non-users, 11 and 9 percent respectively.

Upon analysis of data, researchers concluded that heavy marijuana use is associated with problems like lack of achievement and a possible lowering of IQ. Additionally, individuals who utilize marijuana as a coping mechanism demonstrated a higher probability of increasing their existing psychiatric problems.

Do I Have Marijuana Use Disorder?

If you are worried that you might be struggling with a marijuana use disorder, remember that you are not alone. There are countless resources available to educate and support you as you work towards gaining clarity on your condition. Some questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea of where you stand in regards to your marijuana use include:

  • Does most or all of your money go to buying marijuana?
  • Do you tell yourself or others that you are going to stop for a bit and find that you cannot?
  • Do you try to “cut down” and eventually go back to the same or higher usages?
  • Do you engage in most of your activities while under the influence of marijuana?
  • Do you feel like you need to use marijuana to function properly?
  • Do you feel like you need to use marijuana to get sleep?
  • Have your loved ones expressed concern about your marijuana usage?

Getting the Help You Deserve

On average, adults seeking treatment for marijuana use disorders have used marijuana nearly every day for more than 10 years and have attempted recovery over six times. Remember, recovery is not linear and relapses are a normal part of the process. What matters most is that you never stop trying.

Countless 12-step groups exist, including Marijuana Anonymous, where you can share your experience and seek guidance and community as you navigate life sober. If you feel like a higher level of care would be beneficial, consider seeking out an inpatient treatment facility that specializes in substance use disorders.

At The Kimberly Center, we employ trained professionals who have experience handling clients struggling with marijuana dependencies. Our recovery programs include specific therapies and treatment modalities that are intended to provide limitless support and healing. We are committed to working with you towards an individualized plan that addresses your specific needs and meets your unique goals. If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana use and wants to make a change, call The Kimberly Center today, at (855) 452-3683.

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