Is Marijuana Addictive?

Many patients come to New Life Medical Addiction Services asking the questions “is Marijuana addictive?” The answer is yes.

Marijuana use can lead to the development of chronic and problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which can then lead to addiction in the many cases. Research indicates that up to 30% of people who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder, and those who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than those who begin using the drug as adults.

Marijuana dependence and abuse occur when the brain adapts to the use of large amounts of this potent drug by reducing the production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. A patient’s dependence on the drug is indicated when a patient experiences withdrawal symptom when they stop taking the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can be quite pronounced in many heavy marijuana users.

People who use marijuana frequently and then quit often experience mood changes, anger and irritability, insomnia and difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, restlessness, and sometimes various forms of physical discomfort. The physical symptoms often seem to peak within the first week after quitting and can last up to 2 weeks or longer.

Marijuana use disorder morphs into true addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it is clear that it is interfering with normal aspects of their life. Although there is a common misconception that Marijuana is basically harmless, the research shows that the dramatically increasing potency of this drug is cause for major concern.

Is Marijuana Use Dangerous?

In the early 1990s, the average THC content of marijuana (flower/bud) was estimated to be around 4%. In 2018, it was more than 15% and in 2020, some strains are reaching THC levels of 25% to 30%. Please note that this is only for organic marijuana. The many new ways of ingesting marijuana through vaping and food products (known as edibles) that have been introduced in recent years has increased this even further. Today, marijuana consumables sometimes contain THC levels as high as 80%.

This trend towards extremely high THC levels have caused concerns in the medical community 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.

Treating Marijuana Addiction

New Life’s approach to treating marijuana addiction is similar to our treatment protocols for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and group and family counseling can be highly effective treatment options, depending on the individual’s situation, other drug abuse, and treatment needs. New Life offers the following counseling services to address marijuana misuse and addiction:

New Life’s Counseling Services Include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps our patients understand which modes of thinking and behavior lead them to abuse Marijuana and shows them the ways that they can change that behavior. Our counselors also teach coping skills that helps our patients manage stress and change the thoughts that cause them to want to misuse substances.
  • Individualized counseling, which focus on the life problems and stresses which could have been the trigger for their marijuana use and abuse in the first place. It can also include goal setting, talking about setbacks, and celebrating the progress a patient has made in the path to recovery.
  • Group counseling is also important to the New Life process. Group counseling gives our patients a chance to learn about the difficulties and challenges that others are having with their addiction to marijuana and other substances and the ways they are dealing with those situations.
  • Family counseling, which includes partners or spouses and other family members who are close to the patient and who are impacted by the persons use of marijuana and other substances. Family counseling can be a critical step in the healing process when bad or disruptive behavior has damaged family relationships.
  • Peer coaching where staff members who have had their own problems with alcoholism and alcohol abuse can provide insight through their own experiences.

If you or someone you care about is asking the question “is marijuana addictive?” then you need to contact the doctors and clinicians at New Life Medical Addiction Services today. Our caring and highly trained staff is available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, feel free to call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message

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