What is Marijuana Addiction?

Before you make any decisions about your potential treatment, it’s important to understand exactly what marijuana addiction is. Medical professionals describe marijuana addiction, or marijuana use disorder, as severe cases of dependency in which users experience withdrawal symptoms. When people don’t have they marijuana, their mood will change and they will experience physical symptoms. These symptoms may include restlessness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, mood swings and other forms of physical discomfort.

1 in 10 marijuana users will develop an addiction. That figure rises to 1 in 6 for people who start using before the age of 18.

As the U.S. continues to grapple with a growing drug crisis, there is much discussion surrounding marijuana. This includes how to ensure the safety and recovery of those who find themselves in the throes of addiction. After all, that’s a lot of people, as the National Institute on Drug Use reported that nearly 4 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder in 2015. Around 138,000 of these individuals voluntarily sought treatment for their drug problem.

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What Are the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

As marijuana becomes legalized to some degree in many parts of the country as well as the rest of the world, the debate continues. There are millions of people who use the drug recreationally or for health-related reasons. Yet it’s essential that those who do use it do so safely and within reason. Otherwise, addiction can become a very real avenue and consequence of prolonged marijuana use.

Marijuana is typically seen as a social drug. It’s often seen as something you do time from time with friends or on a relaxing weekend. However, as with other substances, it can creep up on you. You may think you have your usage under control when the opposite is actually the truth. If you find yourself making excuse for your marijuana use, or if it’s affecting your work or personal life, then you may have a problem that needs to be addressed. When marijuana is all you can think about, addiction may unfortunately be a reality for you. In addition, marijuana has always been known as a “gateway” drug, meaning it’s a substance that many people start out by using before moving on to harder drugs.

Physical Marijuana Addiction Symptoms

Red, glassy eyes: Marijuana use can cause the eyes to become extremely red and bloodshot, as well as giving them a glassy or glossed over appearance. Another common side effect is a noticeable narrowing of the eyes, as if squinting.

Dry Mouth: Marijuana is well known for causing a severely dry mouth effect, often referred to by users as “cotton-mouth”.

Increased Appetite and Weight Gain: Using Marijuana can cause the person to feel very hungry, a side effect known as “the munchies”. As a result of this, the user may gain weight over time.

Emotional Marijuana Addiction Symptoms

Anxiety: Marijuana is often portrayed as a fun, and even silly experience, but in fact many users report feeling anxious of even paranoid after after using it.

Depression: As with any substance, the prolonged use of Marijuana will interrupt the natural balance of chemicals in the brain. This can cause depression.

Poor Motivation: Another common side effect is low energy, known as “burn-out syndrome” that causes the user to feel lazy or unmotivated. This can interfere with work, school, or relationships.

What Are the Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal?

Perhaps one of the biggest indicators of marijuana addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Whatever form of marijuana consumption you may prefer, you can experience withdrawal symptoms with all, and it’s important to be aware of withdrawal and what it may bring. Here are some of the most common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal:

As you can imagine, these withdrawal symptoms are difficult to deal with. Many addicted marijuana users choose to continue using rather than coping with these symptoms. It’s an easier choice in the short-term, but it will make it even more difficult to quit in the long-term. If you’re experiencing these withdrawal symptoms, then you need to think about seeking professional help as you navigate the withdrawal process.

What Are the Dangers of Marijuana Addiction?

The dangers of marijuana addiction are vast and varied, with your health and lifestyle in peril anytime you become too comfortable and too content with using a drug regularly. First and foremost, there are alarming physical dangers, such as kidney and liver disease. Many drugs, including marijuana, are linked to kidney and liver damage and failure. If you consistently use these substances, you will be setting your body up for trouble down the track, as the health of your organs needs to be a priority. Every time you smoke, you are putting foreign substances and in many case toxins into your body, and organ failure may become a reality for you if you continue to use drugs constantly. Kidney and liver disease are leading causes of death in the United States, and you want to do whatever you can to avoid them.

Marijuana and Mental Health Struggles
The physical dangers of marijuana are joined by mental and emotional setbacks such as intense mood swings, depression and anxiety. These conditions can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to reach personal or professional goals. For example, it’s hard to juggle a new job promotion if you’re feeling the urge to smoke marijuana every hour. The same goes for your schooling – you won’t be able to get much studying done if all you want to do after class is smoke and zone out. By recognizing the effects your marijuana use is having on the rest of your life, you’ll be able to acknowledge the existence of a drug dependency problem.

Marijuana and Legal Woes
Plus, if you’re not careful a marijuana habit could land you on the wrong side of the law. Although the laws surrounding marijuana vary depending on where you are, you don’t want to take the risks. The penalties for marijuana possession, paraphernalia, selling and more can be quite severe, and you could be staring at hefty fines or even time behind bars if you don’t respect the regulations currently placed on marijuana. All in all, the dangers of using marijuana far outweigh any perceived benefits, and you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind and health if you stop using.

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Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

A person who attends a Partial Hospitalization Treatment Program will receive daily individual and group therapy sessions geared toward helping them identify triggers for their use and develop new skills to cope with life without drugs. They will also have access to medical staff and oversight. These programs are an ideal first step in the treatment process and offer the most accountability.

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 Intensive Outpatient Treatment

In an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program an individual will still attend treatment daily, however, for fewer hours that a Partial Hospitalization Program. The treatment will focus more on group and transitional therapy than individual therapy, and will help prepare the person to begin reintegrating into society without relying on drugs and alcohol. Individual therapy is still provided, just less frequently.

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Sober Living

Sober Living environments give those trying to recover a safe and sober living space. Most sober living houses provide accountability by enforcing regular drug testing, curfews, and ensuring that occupants are attending recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery. Sober Living can be used in conjunction with treatment to provide maximum accountability in early recovery.

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