marijuana and addiction

Common Misunderstandings About Marijuana and Addiction

Although marijuana is illegal in the United States at the federal level, many states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, medical use, or both. Many people regard marijuana as harmless because of its legal status in many states.

While it is true that many people use marijuana from time to time without suffering any ill effects, some people do experience harm as a result of their marijuana usage. Some users do become dependent. A report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that in 2015, approximately “four million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder,” and 138,000 sought treatment. Thirty percent of users have some degree of a marijuana use disorder, and about nine percent develop a dependency. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are “four to seven times more likely to have a marijuana use disorder than adults,” and approximately 17% of them develop a dependency.

Potential Effects

Although most people who occasionally use marijuana report positive effects (euphoria, relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered sense of time), some people have less pleasant experiences and report sensations like fear, anxiety, distrust, and panic. According to the NIDA, when using large amounts of marijuana, some people experience hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of their sense of personal identity.

Today, an issue facing marijuana users is that the plant’s concentration of THC has increased compared with its potency in the 1990s. The following figures are based on an analysis of confiscated marijuana and included in the research report published by NIDA referenced in the second paragraph. In the early 1990s, the level of THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects, was less than four percent. In 2018, the level of THC was more than 15%. Marijuana plants have been bred to have increased potency.

Possibility of Dependence

Dependence on a substance means that the user will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. According to the research report on marijuana released in July 2020 by NIDA, dependence can occur when large amounts of the substance are used. Large amounts of marijuana cause the brain to reduce the amount and sensitivity of its endocannabinoid neurotransmitters, part of the endocannabinoid system. People who have become dependent on marijuana and its effects may experience withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, sleep problems, decreased appetite, restlessness, cravings, and physical discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms might last up to two weeks.

As with all substance use, marijuana becomes a problem when it interferes with your daily life or if you are suffering from legal or health issues because of its use.

Problems Associated With Marijuana Use

Physical and mental problems associated with marijuana use can be divided into three categories:

  1. Acute: Present during intoxication
  2. Persistent: Lasting beyond the time when the user is intoxicated but not permanent
  3. Long-term: Cumulative effects caused by repeated, frequent use

During the acute phase (intoxication), marijuana users may experience impairment in cognitive functions, including short-term memory formation, attention, and judgment. They may also have trouble with balance and coordination, and their heart rate may increase. They may also experience anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis, although this is not common.

Persistent health issues (lasting longer than just during intoxication but not considered long-term) include impaired learning and coordination and sleep difficulties. Long-term physical and mental problems can consist of possible addiction and impairments in learning and memory loss. Impairments in learning and memory loss can lead to a potential loss of IQ; however, this is not common and is thought to be limited to people who began using marijuana heavily during adolescence and have continued to be heavy users. Also, some research summarized in the NIDA report indicated that heavy users of marijuana are at an increased risk of schizophrenia if they also have a genetic vulnerability to that disorder. Marijuana use can result in a chronic cough and bronchitis, lung hyperinflation, and may play a role in suppressing the immune system.

Treatment for Marijuana Use Disorder

Fortunately, treatment is available for people with marijuana use disorder. According to NIDA, certain types of therapies might be useful for marijuana use disorder. These are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy.

  • CBT is a form of psychotherapy that teaches people to change their unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, gain better control of their emotions, and develop coping strategies for their problems.
  • Contingency management is a therapeutic technique that monitors the desired behavior and rewards it.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy is an intervention that is intended to bring about change. It uses the person’s inner resources to bring about the desired change and stay involved with treatment.

Marijuana is widely considered to be safe and non-addictive. For some people, however, using marijuana can cause problems, including dependence and addiction. It can be challenging to admit that you have a problem with marijuana because so many external voices say it’s “perfectly safe” and “nothing to worry about.” At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that marijuana use can lead to abuse, and it is one of the addictions that we treat. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment center; we treat alcohol and drug use disorders and the mental health issues that often accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy, and we create an individualized recovery program for each client. Our focus is on healing the whole person and not just on treating the addiction. We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. We are located near the southern shore of New Jersey. If you are struggling with an addiction to marijuana, or are concerned about someone close to you, call us today at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


What to Know About Marijuana Edibles

What to Know About Marijuana Edibles

People may think that consuming candy that has marijuana in it is safer than actually smoking it. The truth is that there are plenty of negative health consequences that can come from consuming too many edibles. By being aware of the dangers of marijuana edibles, you will think twice before buying them.

What Marijuana Edibles Are

Edibles are food products that have marijuana in them. It has become a popular way to consume marijuana as you can put marijuana in almost any food product. Brownies are the most popular edible, but marijuana can also be infused in gummies, chocolate, beverages, and others. The chemical compound in marijuana is THC which can make you high, affect your memory, thinking, and perception. There is also cannabidiol in edibles which also has relaxing qualities. Marijuana can also be infused in cooking oil for frying or searing as well as marijuana-infused butter that can easily be spread. 

There are people who use edible marijuana for recreational uses as it is legal in 11 states, but there are others who use it for medical uses in 33 states where medical marijuana is legal. The popular medical use for it is for pain relief, but can also be used for improving appetite, reducing nausea, and lowering inflammation. 

Eating Marijuana Vs. Smoking It

Smoking marijuana takes minutes to achieve the effects. Edibles, on the other hand, can take 1-3 hours since food is absorbed in the bloodstream through the liver. Because it takes a while, this will make the user want to absorb more and more of it to achieve the effects. It is often unknown how much THC is in an edible since it is hard to measure. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a 52-year-old man with a brain tumor who accidentally received a dose 10 to 20 times higher than recommended of liquid marijuana. This caused him to go to the emergency room delirious with garbled speech. The chances of an overdose from edibles are much greater compared to an overdose from smoking it. If you take too much of an edible, you could experience symptoms like feeling very tired, a bit delirious, or being agitated or paranoid. 

The Safety of Marijuana Edibles 

If you buy a product from a registered clinic, the edibles must undergo tests. This means making sure there are no unwanted metals and that the product contains what it says on the package. Testing can also see if the dosage of marijuana that the package states is accurate, meaning you get the same THC content in each bite taken. It is important to still be careful when buying from a legal clinic since they still take a while to achieve the effects.

The Health Consequences of Marijuana Edibles 

People who already have health issues like schizophrenia, a history of heart attacks, blood pressure issues, anxiety, and a history of drug abuse should avoid edibles. People with psychiatric disorders could be worsening their anxiety with cannabis products. If you have a history of substance abuse, it is best to speak to a doctor about it before being prescribed to it if you need it for medical uses. Everyone metabolizes cannabis differently depending on their state of mind or metabolism. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle after you try an edible. Feeling more anxious is not worth achieving a high. No amount of marijuana edibles is worth compromising your mental health. 

Safe Ways of Consuming Marijuana Edibles

The body already has cannabidiol receptors which means that you cannot develop a physical or chemical dependency to the THC the way you can with other substances. If you are going to take marijuana edibles for medical uses, you still have to make sure that you are consuming them safely to avoid any overdoses. You should first read the labels on the edibles package so that you know the dosing of the THC/CBD in the product. The label will also tell you if the product has been tested by a third-party lab for safety which is a good sign. It is important to go to a good dispensary where the staff is educated on the product and understands the experience you want to give you a recommended option.

You can also speak to your doctor about your edibles use. They can tell you the truth about whether or not you should steer clear of them depending on your overall health and any mental health issues you have. The normal dose of an edible is between 5 to 10 milligrams. Take a 2.5-milligram dose and wait 90 minutes if you are used to cannabis. If you do not feel an effect after, you can try another 2.5 milligrams but be careful of your dosage. 

You should also keep edibles away from the sight of children as they can be consuming goods like gummies and have no idea that there is marijuana in them. If your teen children know that you use edibles for medical purposes, explain why you use it and what it is important to avoid. You also know that you are buying from a legal dispensary if they are following safe-specific rules of safety and testing. You can check your state government’s site for registered dispensaries. By using marijuana edibles for medical purposes only and using them wisely, you will decrease the risks of an overdose.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Sorry, Marijuana Maintenance Is Unrealistic

What Is Marijuana Maintenance

Marijuana maintenance is a term used by those in recovery to describe what some call a “program” of recovery, without having to get fully sober. Choosing the lesser of evils, as many people consider marijuana to be, such individuals give up all other vices, except for marijuana. Like using a drug replacement therapy prescription to treat an opioid addiction, some feel that marijuana is an acceptable alternative to traditional medicine. Stopping the abusive use of drugs, alcohol, or other substances, people who adhere to marijuana maintenance continue to use marijuana.

Controversy Surrounding Marijuana Maintenance

Numerous medical studies have been released advocating the use of medical marijuana to treat addiction. Less harmful than heroin and alcohol, marijuana has many health benefits including the ability to treat symptoms of mental health disorders. However, the THC found in marijuana still causes people to get “high”. Recovering addicts and alcoholics are susceptible to trouble when it comes to stimulation their reward center and system in their brain. The neuroscience of addiction reveals that an overproduction of dopamine due to high levels of harmful substances is what rewires the whole brain. Marijuana still causes euphoria, even when used in moderation. There is simply no way to “use” marijuana without getting high or altering the brain.

Conservatives in recovery feel that recovery is defined only by abstinence. Continuing to use illicit substances for coping with pain of any kind in life is still relying on external substances for relief. In addition, marijuana is still a mind altering substance. Conservatives also feel that it is necessary to be free of all such substances. Arguable, prescription medications for mental health maintenance can be mind altering. However, the mind is altered in a way which makes it easier to function and continue personal growth with feelings. Marijuana can cause someone to feel numb or detached from recovery.

Marijuana Addiction Is Real

One of the substances listed under Substance Use Disorders is Marijuana. Marijuana can cause chemical dependency, marked by symptoms of withdrawal when the substance is no longer used. Recovery and addiction are on opposite ends of the scale, therefore being chemically dependent on marijuana and claiming to be free from addiction at the same time is oxymoronic.

Enlightened Solutions promotes abstinence in all of its programs. For those in need of medically assisted treatment, Enlightened Solutions is available to make a custom treatment plan, safe for you and for other residents. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


substance abuse addiction treatment new jersey

Does Marijuana Help Mental Health?

Marijuana is legalizing and medicalizing around the country. 2016 alone has seen the legislative approval of recreational marijuana use in 4 states. Many others have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana as well as medicalized it. As the normalization of marijuana grows, research continues to grow as well. CBD oil, which removes the high-inducing THC molecule from marijuana, is being used to treat cancer, autism, ADHD, depression, and more.

A recent review of research has found that marijuana can benefit mental health disorders. Social anxiety, PTSD, and depression can all be benefited from the use of marijuana, according to the review. Specifically, these mental health disorders benefit from the use of marijuana. Other mental health disorders like bipolar might not benefit from the use of marijuana as they result in more negative effects.

According to Time.com, one of the main encouragements for expanding research into the positive benefit of marijuana in treating mental health is to aid in the war on opioids. Quoting Zach Walsh of the University of British Columbia, Time cites, “If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits.” Walsh continues to explain what millions of Americans know to be true: “The level of opioid overdoses is so high right now.”

Isn’t Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana is not considered to be an addictive or habit forming drug by most. However, marijuana use disorder has become a realistic problem. Marijuana today is stronger than it has been in previous decades, causing more a chemical alteration and creating a dependency. Regular marijuana users do experience symptoms of withdrawal without using marijuana. For this reason, recovery professionals are concerned about the use of a mind altering substance to treat the addiction to another mind altering substance.

As controversy still reigns regarding medication assisted treatment and the use of natural substances like Kratom, it is unlikely marijuana as an addiction treatment will gain traction. Additionally, marijuana, though legalized at state level for some states, is still a federally illegal drug. Until the DEA lifts the Schedule 1 label on marijuana, conducting further studies will be difficult.

 

Enlightened Solutions provides a continuum of care to men and women seeking a creative approach to treatment. Our programs combine evidence based treatment with twelve step philosophy and include holistic modalities for care. For more information, call 833-801-5483.