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Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. There are nearly 600 known slang terms for marijuana or the use of marijuana, the most common being "pot" and "weed." It is usually smoked as a cigarette (called a "joint" or a "nail") or in a pipe or bong. Some users also mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew tea. The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is one of 70 cannabinoid chemicals in marijuana, and marijuana also contains more than 400 other chemicals, including some of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke. THC reaches peak levels in the body within 10 minutes of smoking. Intoxication lasts approximately two to three hours.

Marijuana addiction is a phenomenon experienced by more than 150,000 individuals each year who enter treatment for their proclaimed addiction to marijuana. Marijuana addiction is characterized as compulsive, often uncontrollable marijuana craving, seeking, and use, even when the individual knows that marijuana use is not in his best interest. This contradiction is characteristic of a marijuana addiction problem. Marijuana addiction could be defined as chronically making the firm decision not to use marijuana followed shortly by a relapse due to experiencing overwhelming compulsive urges to use marijuana despite the firm decision not to.

Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction:

  1. Marijuana tolerance:
    Either need for markedly increased amounts of marijuana to achieve intoxication, or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of marijuana.
  2. Greater use of marijuana than intended:
    Marijuana taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  3. Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control marijuana use.
  4. A great deal of time spent in using marijuana.
  5. Marijuana use causing a reduction in social, occupational or recreational activities.
  6. Continued marijuana use despite knowing it will cause significant problems.

Marijuana is both emotionally and mentally addictive. Once an individual becomes addicted to marijuana it develops into part of who they believe themselves to be. Avoiding their friends who do not use, the addict will gravitate to others that do. Marijuana is a topic that is always on their mind, whether it be thinking about the next time they will be able to get high or where their going to get their next sack. When someone is addicted to marijuana eventually their friends and the people close to them only know how they act when their stoned because they no longer do anything without first smoking. Their constant abuse is due to the misconception that marijuana is what they need to solve their problems. Sometimes addicts will take their stash with them wherever they go, just in case an opportunity arises and they are able to take a couple hits. They may even go through several dealers in order to make sure they always have a constant supply of marijuana.

Marijuana addiction could be defined as chronically making the firm decision not to use marijuana followed shortly by a relapse due to experiencing overwhelming compulsive urges to use marijuana despite the firm decision not to. This contradiction is characteristic of an addiction problem. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to: irritability, anxiety, physical tension, and a decreases in appetite and mood. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal first appear in chronic users within 24 hours. They are most pronounced for the first 10 days and can last up to 28 days.

Marijuana addiction treatment depends upon the severity and nature of the individuals addiction to marijuana, motivation, and the availability of services. Some users may enter a drug addiction treatment center voluntarily and have the support of family, friends, and workplace; others may be sent to a treatment program by the courts against their will and have virtually no support system.

Detoxification is only the first stage of marijuana addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping marijuana use. While detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective marijuana addiction treatment.

The appropriate duration for an individual to remain in treatment depends on his or her problems and needs. Research indicates that for most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. After this threshold is reached, additional treatment can produce further progress toward recovery. Because people often leave treatment prematurely, programs should include strategies to engage and keep patients in treatment.

There are no quick fixes for marijuana addiction. Recovery is an ongoing process. The skills one learns during intensive drug addiction treatment must be integrated into everyday life and this takes time. Treatment programs should include a quality, continuing care program that supports and monitors recovery.

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