Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center

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Marijuana Addiction and Treatment in the United States

Marijuana addiction can be a difficult issue to face. Those who struggle with this addiction may find it hard to seek help and make the decision to enter into treatment, let alone complete the program successfully.


Marijuana: What is it Exactly?

Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. It can also come in other forms such as hashish (a solid form) and hash oil (a liquid form).

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a plant that grows naturally in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Marijuana has been used for centuries as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes.

Because marijuana is a plant, it contains more than 400 chemicals. The main chemical in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

Marijuana can be smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes commonly called joints, pipes, or water pipes (bongs). It is also smoked in blunts, which are hollowed-out cigars.  It can also be mixed with foods or brewed as tea. On the street, the drug is called pot, grass, dope, weed, reefer, ganja, hash, herb, or chronic.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. According to a 2012 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 3 out of every 10 Americans have tried marijuana at least once and about 6.6 million people in the United States reported using marijuana daily or almost every day. Marijuana is commonly used as a street drug, but it is also sometimes used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. According to a 2006 survey, more than 14 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once, and more than 4 million of them have smoked it in the past year.

Is Marijuana Truly Addictive?

A common misconception about marijuana is that it isn’t addictive. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly half of those who smoke pot become addicted to it. This is the highest addiction rate of any illicit drug.

The study also found that people who use marijuana are more likely to abuse other drugs, such as alcohol and cocaine. Marijuana users tend to begin using other drugs at an earlier age than people who don’t use marijuana.

The Effects of Marijuana Abuse on the Brain and Body

Marijuana is a drug made from dried leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. It contains chemicals that can make you feel euphoric or high, similar to the way alcohol and some other drugs can affect your mood. This high is caused by a chemical in marijuana called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Marijuana also contains more than 400 other chemicals. Some of these are similar to the chemicals found in tobacco smoke, which causes cancer and heart disease.

Marijuana Addiction Symptoms

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the United States. According to an article published by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9% of those who try marijuana will become addicted.

A person who is addicted to marijuana will experience cravings for the drug, as well as physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. Marijuana addiction can result in serious health and social problems.

The most common physical symptoms of marijuana addiction apart from the high or euphoric feeling are bloodshot eyes, an increase in appetite, lack of motivation, nervous or paranoid behavior, anxiety, dry mouth, impaired coordination, memory, and judgment, slowed reaction time, relaxed feeling and sleepiness, distorted perception, and weight gain. Irritability, restlessness, and depression are also common. Although the short-term side effects of the drug are not life-threatening, there are potential dangers of use. 

The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and when someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain. The long-term side effects of Marijuana use and abuse is not very scientifically concrete but include severe mood swings, an increase in panic attacks, lung and breathing issues as well as worsening symptoms in those with schizophrenia. 

Marijuana is not harmless as it damages the lungs and other vital organs, affect learning and memory, causes distorted perception, leads to addiction, and interferes with daily life.

Marijuana as a Gateway Drug

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about 4% of Americans over 12 years old have tried marijuana and more than 2% of Americans over 12 years old are current users. The NIDA also reports that between 1996 and 2002, marijuana use among young adults aged 18-25 increased by 26%.

The Gateway Theory states that the use of marijuana can lead to the use of harder drugs. The theory is based on the fact that many users progress to other, more dangerous substances after becoming addicted to marijuana. Tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin are some of the dangerous abused substances that result from marijuana use.

How Common Is Marijuana Addiction and Abuse?

The number of people who use marijuana has increased in recent years. Marijuana addiction is a serious problem in the United States. More than 3 million Americans are addicted to marijuana, with an estimated 100,000 new users each year according to NIDA. It is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. 

More than 100 million Americans have tried it at least once, and more than 14 million use it regularly. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 4.2 million Americans age 12 or older used marijuana for the first time in 2008. This is about the same number of people who started using marijuana for the first time in 2004 and 2005 combined.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that approximately 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This means that they have trouble controlling their drug use and cannot stop even though they want to.

How to Treat Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana detox is the first step in treating marijuana addiction. During this process, which can take up to two weeks, the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting marijuana can be difficult and uncomfortable, but they are not life threatening. In most cases, these symptoms will pass within a few days. 

The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting marijuana are irritability, anger, or aggression, problems sleeping, decreased appetite, restlessness, nausea, and abdominal pain. 

Marijuana addiction treatment programs are not like alcohol or drug rehabilitation centers because marijuana is not a physically addictive substance. Marijuana users do develop tolerance, but the effects of tolerance can be managed by taking smaller and smaller doses.

Treating marijuana addiction is a process of learning how to live without the drug and then taking control of life in a way that does not involve using marijuana. There are three different approaches to marijuana addiction treatment.

The first approach is motivational enhancement therapy, which focuses on helping the patient develop a strong desire to stop using marijuana and then finding ways for the patient to deal with problems. The second approach is cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps the patient to recognize and deal with situations that trigger cravings. The third approach is contingency management, in which the patient receives tangible rewards for staying drug-free.

The effectiveness of these treatments is not well established, and they are not widely used in the United States. Longer-term residential treatment programs provide an environment that is isolated from the triggers and cues that lead to drug use. This type of treatment is more effective for patients who have had multiple relapses or who have other addictions in addition to marijuana dependence.

Inpatient treatment is an intensive and highly structured program that provides a safe, secure environment for the patient. The staff of these programs, such as those at West Valley Detox,  is made up of professionals who are trained in substance abuse disorders and addiction.

The patients in these programs are monitored 24 hours a day, and they receive therapy that is geared toward the specific needs of each patient. West Valley Detox also provides group and individual counseling, educational groups, and other therapies.

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