Marijuana (also called cannabis, weed or pot, among other nicknames) is the second most used substance in the United States after alcohol. It has more annual users than all other drugs — including prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin and meth — combined. Its popularity comes from its reputation as a mild drug, its widespread availability and its growing legal status in many states. But marijuana users often turn a blind eye to the fact that it is still a mind-altering drug with several known risks. It’s important to understand that any substance that interferes with brain activity has the potential to be harmful, no matter how many purported benefits it has.
If you or someone close to you is using marijuana and you believe the habit is becoming problematic, you should seek professional guidance and treatment right away. You are not alone — in 2015, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that nearly 4 million Americans met the criteria for marijuana use disorder (marijuana addiction). It can happen to anyone. At The Kimberly Center, we also know that anyone can heal from addiction, no matter how long you have been struggling or how difficult it may seem. Reach out to us to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment in Fort Myers, Florida.
What is Marijuana Addiction?
Many people don’t believe that marijuana is addictive. This misconception stems from many areas, including the drug’s long history of use, its relatively mild high, its potential medicinal uses and the fact that there are no known fatalities from a marijuana overdose. But this information can be misleading. Real research does show that it is possible to become addicted to marijuana, just as it is possible to become addicted to any substance or process that changes brain chemistry.
For one, medical uses don’t necessarily mean that a substance can’t be harmful — prescription drugs can be incredibly addictive, and even drugs like cocaine have some rare medical applications. Also, just because marijuana is comparatively safer than “hard drugs” does not mean that it’s completely safe.
But the biggest concern comes from availability, and from studies showing that the potency of marijuana has increased drastically in the last 20 to 30 years. The “harmless” marijuana plants grown by ancient civilizations (and even the marijuana used by our parents’ generations) are not the same ones distributed to today’s marijuana users. Not only have marijuana plants been selectively grown for a stronger high, but the active chemicals in the leaves are now used in more concentrated forms such as oils used in vaporizers, and even in candies and baked goods. Doctors and researchers are seeing more and more marijuana use disorders as more people use stronger marijuana on a more regular basis.
Dependency on marijuana more often stems from forming a habit than it does from simply using the drug. Using marijuana every day, or using it regularly for a particular purpose (such as a pain reliever, sleep aid or social lubricant) can lead to your brain relying on or craving the drug at times when you typically use it. Eventually, you may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea if you try to avoid marijuana. Many people will continue to use the drug in the face of these symptoms because they don’t realize that what they’re feeling is a direct result of marijuana use. If this occurs, you may find yourself using more and more marijuana at increasingly inappropriate times, such as before or during work or school, before driving or in the presence of young children.
And finally, there are a few other serious considerations when it comes to marijuana use and addiction. First, marijuana is known to react badly with other substances. While there are no known fatal overdoses of marijuana, there are many recorded instances where an individual overdosed on another drug with marijuana in their system. In addition, synthetic forms of marijuana have also been developed recently, including drugs called “K2” and “spice,” that are very dangerous and known to cause a fatal overdose. And third, in the majority of the United States and the world, marijuana remains an illegal substance that should be avoided; not only to avoid legal trouble but because its unregulated distribution means that it could be contaminated or laced with more dangerous substances.
What are the Effects of Marijuana Addiction?
Not much is known with certainty about the effects of long-term marijuana use. Marijuana use disorders have historically been rare, and despite its status as an illicit drug, it has largely been ignored in favor of studying drugs with more intense effects. But as its legal status and possible medical uses have been called into question, researchers have become more interested in its long-term safety and effects. To further the lack of clarity about the dangers of marijuana, these studies have had conflicting results. Some purport to have found benefits from marijuana, while others suggest risks and dangers such as:
- Decreased memory function
- Poor brain development when used by preteens and teens
- Breathing problems (especially when smoked)
- Heart and circulatory problems
- Anxiety or depression
- Birth defects in children whose mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy
- Worsened symptoms of existing mental health disorders
While studies of marijuana use are still underway, experts agree that this drug must be treated with caution just like any other mind-altering substance. Much like alcohol, it can be addictive and can have serious health effects when abused.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
If you are noticing that your marijuana use — or the marijuana use of someone close to you — has become a regular habit or pattern, we encourage you to stop use and seek professional evaluation and counseling. Marijuana can quickly begin to interfere with important aspects of life, including work and school, family responsibilities, financial well-being and mental and physical health. Watch for common signs of marijuana use and addiction, and reach out for a diagnosis from a healthcare provider if you see any of the following indicators:
- Using marijuana daily or on a regular basis
- Using marijuana to alleviate pain, help with sleeping, decrease anxiety or other symptom management, especially without a doctor’s diagnosis or recommendation
- Spending money on marijuana instead of important bills and purchases
- Visible drug paraphernalia including rolling papers, pipes, grinders and vaporizers
- Spending time with people who also use marijuana, especially in favor of other friend groups
- Lowered performance at work or school
- Evidence of using marijuana at work or school
- Driving or performing other dangerous activities while high
- Complaining of headaches, nausea or flu-like symptoms when sober
Treating Marijuana Addiction
It is always possible to get help for marijuana addiction and find your path back to successful sobriety. Even though marijuana addiction may not seem as serious as addiction to other substances, it’s vital to get professional help — treatment centers like The Kimberly Center are here to ensure that you not only get sober but have the tools you need to stay sober. This is especially important with marijuana addiction because of the availability of the drug. It is highly likely that you will find yourself challenged after you break the cycle of marijuana addiction, because you are likely to encounter or be offered marijuana at some point in your future. You need to have a strong foundation set by professional treatment so you are equipped to say no and feel secure in your decision to stay sober.
At The Kimberly Center, our programs are designed to provide the support and security you need to return to everyday life feeling healthy, strong and confident. We offer a range of services that can be combined to fit your background, lifestyle and schedule, including:
Our treatment methods incorporate a range of evidence-based therapy options so our clients can build their own unique path to recovery. From individual and group talk therapy, to time-tested 12-Step methods, to cutting-edge cognitive behavioral therapy, we select the treatments we offer based on proven effectiveness and success for people of all walks of life.
Is Marijuana Addiction Treatment at The Kimberly Center Right for You?
As rates of marijuana use disorder rise, so do the options that you have for dedicated marijuana addiction treatment. Treatment centers across the country offer specialized programs for marijuana addiction — these programs come in many shapes and sizes, including offerings tailored to budgets, genders, ages and range of concerns.
The Kimberly Center provides a welcoming, open-minded community for adult men and women in Fort Myers, Florida. Our detox and outpatient programs are designed for individuals who need help with their addiction but are seeking a flexible environment so they can maintain work, school or family responsibilities alongside their recovery journey. We offer treatment for addiction to a range of substances including marijuana, alcohol, opioids and stimulants.
If it’s time to take your first steps toward lifelong healing from addiction, please reach out to us to find out more about what we do. We can help you find out if our programs are right for you, and can inform you about the resources available to you if you have concerns that require a different set of programs.
Contact The Kimberly Center
The Kimberly Center provides high-quality, evidence-based addiction treatment for adult men and women. Our modern, comfortable facilities in Fort Myers, Florida afford a comforting and convenient setting for detox and outpatient care. We want to get to know you and your concerns, and to help you achieve a fulfilling, substance-free life without fear of relapse. Learn more about our services and programs, and find out if our programs are right for you or your loved one — contact us today at 855-452-3683.