Marijuana Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

A Guide to Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

With marijuana abuse more prevalent today than ever before, a marijuana addiction program is critical for anyone who wants to get clean and sober. The proper treatment can help you free yourself from the addiction trap and provide you with the tools necessary to stay drug-free for life.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

What Is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. There are three main components of marijuana: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and various terpenes. These components leave your body quickly after use. However, the THC component stays in your system for at least 30 days. Even if you’ve only used marijuana a few times, you can still be at risk of addiction. According to studies, 1 in 10 adult users and 1 in 6 of those who start using cannabis before age 18 can become addicted to it.

Marijuana addiction is a disease defined by compulsive or uncontrollable drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Marijuana affects the brain by creating a chemical dependency that can cause psychological and physical dependence.

Is Marijuana Addiction Treatable?

Yes, marijuana addiction is treatable when a person has access to the proper treatment. It is essential to consult with a professional who understands marijuana abuse and knows how to advise you on the best course of treatment. No two people are exactly alike, so each individual deserves the opportunity to discuss treatment options with an experienced professional who can help them choose a plan that works for them.

If you think marijuana is ruining your life, you may have considered the benefits of addiction treatment. Natural treatment processes use remedies that support your body’s natural physiology to help rebalance it by eliminating the cause of addiction rather than simply treating the symptoms.

What Are the Dangers of Marijuana Abuse?

When people misuse marijuana, they are at risk of experiencing harmful effects that can last for different periods. Short-term effects of marijuana abuse include anxiety, paranoia, and fear. These effects may last for only a few hours. The long-term effects of marijuana abuse include problems with the immune system, brain function, and memory. These effects can last for days, weeks, or even years. Marijuana abuse poses numerous risks:

1. Mental Health Problems – Marijuana abuse can lead to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. People prone to these disorders may become more severe if they abuse marijuana.
2. Psychological Problems – Marijuana can also cause psychological problems, including poor impulse control, psychosis, and bipolar disorder. People with these conditions are at risk of harming themselves or others.
3. Physical Health Problems – Marijuana abuse can lead to adverse health effects, including respiratory problems, heart problems, and the risk of lung cancer.
4. Driving Problems – Driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. It’s difficult to tell if you are impaired by marijuana, and even minimal impairment can put you and others at risk.
5. Link to Violence – People who use marijuana are more likely to commit acts of violence. Many studies have found a link between marijuana use and violence.
6. Increased Risk of Using Other Drugs – When used alone, most drugs have an increased risk of being used with marijuana. This is because people often use both drugs at the same time.
7. Probation – If you are on probation, the use of marijuana could lead to harsher consequences. Some states have laws that prevent probation officers from letting people off probation early if they test positive for marijuana.

Signs Of Marijuana Dependence

If you are dependent on marijuana, you will have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it. You might experience anxiety, depression, irritability, physical symptoms, headaches, or cravings. People who are dependent on marijuana might also have a strong desire to use it again soon after quitting.

How to Recover from Marijuana Addiction

There is hope for people who are addicted to marijuana. Even if you have been using marijuana for a long time, you can recover from your addiction. Many people have completed marijuana addiction treatment. If you don’t think you can do it by yourself, you can get help. If you are ready to start your journey toward recovery, here are some things you can do:

1. Identify the source of your marijuana use: Marijuana addiction is a habit that develops slowly. The first step to recovery is to figure out why you use marijuana. If you don’t know why you use it, you can’t change your behavior.

2. Reset your values: This may seem like a simple tip, but it’s essential. You need to learn how to value yourself without using any harmful substance.

3. Deal with your feelings: Marijuana masks your emotions. You need to process your true feelings and deal with them.

4. Be active: Marijuana is a sedentary drug. If you want to recover, you need to get moving. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good drugs.

Levels of Care in Marijuana Addiction Treatment

People who struggle with marijuana addiction face many challenges, including gaining access to professional help. Marijuana addiction can be treated successfully, and the best place to start is within an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation program. These programs help individuals identify the behaviors that lead them to use marijuana and discover better ways to cope with life’s challenges. The length of time spent in treatment varies depending on the individual’s specific needs and recovery plan.

1. Drug Detox

Detox is how a client rids their body of the drugs and their associated toxins. Drug detox is the medically managed withdrawal period after you stop using drugs. Medically supervised detox is a safe way to eliminate toxins from your body, with the idea that drugs are slowly cleared from your system. In a treatment center, this process allows you to more effectively and safely wean yourself off the drug. During treatment, you can also address any psychological or behavioral issues related to drug abuse.

2. Medical Detox

In a medical detox program, you receive prescription medications to help you safely detox from marijuana. This can include medications that help you stop using drugs, too. Medical detox programs are also known as “harm reduction” programs. These programs offer a safer way to detox than traditional drug detox programs. These programs work with doctors who certify that you have a safe and medically sound way to detox from drugs.

3. Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab programs are often short-term. They might last one, two, or three months. Inpatient rehab programs include residing in a rehab center where you will receive inpatient treatment. You might receive inpatient treatment in a medical detox program or a hospital.

4. Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs generally include medications that help you quit and cope with cravings. It offers a more flexible schedule that allows you to continue going to work or school and handle family responsibilities while working on your recovery.

5. Aftercare

Aftercare is when you remain in contact with a therapist or support system after you complete rehab. It might include weekly or bi-monthly meetings with a therapist or support group or having someone, such as a sponsor or friend, call you to check in on you regularly.

Types of Treatment Therapies

Therapies should generally be part of a more comprehensive treatment plan, often combined with counseling. It’s important to talk to your doctor or therapist to decide which treatment approach will be best for you. Here are some of the different therapies that can help people with marijuana addiction.

1. Medically Assisted Treatment

Medically assisted therapy (MAT) has one feature in common with all therapies for treating marijuana addiction. It is talk therapy with treatment sessions that involve conversations between the therapist and the client. They help the addicted individual experience mindfulness through a guided format. Being able to share their experiences is essential for clients to come to terms with what impact marijuana has on their life.

2. Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is the most common form of therapy for marijuana abuse. It can be conducted in either an individual or group setting, depending on what works best for the client. In an individual treatment session, each individual works with a counselor and discusses their feelings, examines stressors in their life, and identifies patterns contributing to their marijuana problem. The goal of individual therapy is to help clients develop coping tools to deal with their problems, resist the urge to use marijuana, and help them prepare for the stresses of returning to work or school.

3. Group Therapy

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that allows people to come together in a group setting to share and work through their problems in an environment overseen by a trained group therapist. It is typically used as a kind of treatment for addiction and other mental health issues for which people did not receive enough, or the right type of, treatment as children. Group therapy can be potent because it allows clients to interact with other people who have had similar problems and can relate to their situation.

Group therapy also allows the participants to feel supported by their peers and gives them a chance to help each other work through complex issues. Many different group therapies are available today, including specific types of programs that handle particular problems or symptoms much better than others.

4. Online Counselling

Online counseling is perfect for shy people who would rather not speak in front of a group. It can be done at your own time and pace. There is no time limitation, so you can see progress or complete the entire course in one sitting or several weeks. The internet offers an anonymous way to open up without shame, stigma, or embarrassment and gets you the help you need without ever leaving your home.

5. Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies teach people how to change their thinking and react to situations. People in these programs are encouraged to face their fears instead of avoiding them. This helps people build the confidence they need to overcome issues that cause them to use drugs. Several behavioral therapies are effective for treating marijuana addiction.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one example; it effectively helps clients reconsider their habits and behaviors related to substance use. By encouraging clients to identify situations that may be high risk for problematic behaviors, a therapist can train the mind to avoid addictive patterns. Family therapy helps people work together to solve issues and build a healthy family life.

6. Cognitive Therapies

Cognitive therapies are thought to work by helping people stop self-destructive behavior and teaching new ways of thinking about situations that induce them to use. Unlike other treatments, cognitive therapy is open-ended.

This means that the counselor and the client work together to decide on specific goals they are committed to achieving. The newly adopted behaviors are then practiced between the sessions until they become a habit. Cognitive therapies emphasize modifying an abuser’s thoughts, beliefs, and understanding of their addiction to change addictive behaviors. Cognitive therapies are most effective when they are combined with behavioral therapies.

7. Mindfulness Therapies

Mindfulness therapies are a type of treatment that is mainly used to treat addiction and patient recovery. These therapies focus on the mind’s awareness of the present experience, which can be achieved through simple meditation or games. Mindfulness is an approach to psychology and meditation that focuses on being open to all emotions, thoughts, and feelings without judging them.

Mindfulness therapies help you be aware, in a nonjudgmental way, of your experiences in the present moment. Mindfulness can help you recognize triggers of marijuana use better and avoid these situations where possible. Mindfulness is also a handy tool when cravings strike. It enables you to cope with these urges in a healthy manner and not give into them impulsively.


It is essential to realize that anyone can become addicted to marijuana at any age. In the past, much of the stigma associated with marijuana addiction stemmed from the appearance of lower socioeconomic classes abusing this drug. However, recreational marijuana use has increased. Treatment is available for those suffering from a marijuana addiction or concerned about someone who might be dependent on the drug.

The biggest challenge for many addicts is to recognize that they have a problem. Once the person with a substance use disorder reaches out for help, the process of recovery begins. Addiction treatment centers offer programs designed to address underlying issues that might be contributing to drug abuse. They also provide evidence-based methods to help clients gradually overcome addiction to marijuana in their daily lives.

It is essential for individuals suffering from a marijuana addiction to obtain treatment before health complications worsen or professional and social relationships suffer. With adequate treatment resources available today and commitment from the patient, there is hope for recovery from marijuana addiction by setting goals and receiving support for attaining them.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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