Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Addiction describes a biological process whereby a substance is introduced into a person’s body regularly until the person feels dependent upon that substance. Marijuana is a drug which most people use initially in what they describe as a recreational manner. In other words, many people begin using marijuana to unwind at the end of the day or to help them relax when they are facing stressful situations. However, even such perceived occasional use creates a psychological dependency within the person until they begin to feel they must have the drug to unwind or deal with stress. Eventually the addiction reaches a stage where it becomes very difficult for the person to abstain without a treatment intervention.
Marijuana use and dependency is on the upswing based upon treatment center records. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), those entering treatment centers who list marijuana as their primary substance of abuse rose by 162 percent between the years 1992-2002. As an example, in the year 1994, of those admitted to treatment centers, 8.6 percent claimed marijuana to be their problem drug while by 2007 that figure had risen to 16 percent. The average age of admittance for treatment is 24 years.
Treatments for marijuana addiction vary widely and can depend upon how long a person has been using, how much they use and whether or not they combine marijuana use with other drugs/substances. Though treatments may vary, they all share the goal of helping participants become and stay drug-free. Less structured treatment programs may establish an initial goal of first working toward a measurable improvement or reduction in use. In all cases, the first step is to help the dependent person realize a desire to change how they relate to the drug.
Some treatment programs focus on ridding the body of all traces of the drug through a process called detox. Other programs will require that participants are drug-free at the time they enroll in the program. Many treatment programs employ some form of individualized behavioral therapy along with support groups (like Narcotics Anonymous) made up of a dozen or so people endeavoring to achieve and maintain drug-free lifestyles. Over the years as marijuana dependency has grown and more people have begun seeking treatment the variety of treatment options have grown.
One new treatment utilizes a 14 week group setting led by a pair of therapists. The goal is to help participants achieve abstinence by week four, but the group operates with a very fluid approach. Participants may join the group at any point and need not demonstrate that they have ceased using, nor will they be asked to leave the group if they seem unable to quit. This treatment emphasizes group attendance since cessation success is known to be directly linked to staying in treatment.
Another new treatment method relies more on individual attention/treatment rather than on the support of a group. The one-to-one intervention uses just a few key sessions to help participants put marijuana use behind them. Brief marijuana dependency counseling (BMDC) is yet another approach which actually combines the methods of most other treatments (behavioral cognitive therapy, individual assessment, skill-building, ongoing support) so that participants can find which treatment modalities work best for them.
Whether a person finds cessation through brief or long-term, individual or group support, the important thing is to realize that an addiction exists and try overcoming it. Dependency didn’t happen in a day and sober living won’t happen in a day either. Success is achievable for the person who is motivated and plenty of treatment programs exist to help.