Treating any addictive behavior requires tremendous awareness, energy and determination. Currently deemed the most popular illicit drug used, marijuana abuse touches the lives of millions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 15.2 million individuals report having used marijuana within the past month. More concerning is the fact that in 2008, marijuana use was involved in nearly 374,000 visits to the emergency room. No one is immune to marijuana abuse as it affects adults and adolescents alike.
While a single experimental bout with marijuana may illicit a sense of relaxation, chronic abuse has dire consequences. Experts agree that long-term marijuana abuse alters the user’s brain chemistry in ways reminiscent of other drugs. While individuals vary in the duration and dosage that quantify “long-term,” intentional and professional help are vital for the healing process.
Why Treatment Is Difficult
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most individuals seeking treatment for marijuana abuse are chronic users. Typically, those who abuse marijuana have been using daily, for close to 10 years, and tried quitting on at least six occasions. It is precisely this addictive allure that makes treating marijuana abuse difficult. Similar to smoking, many individuals couple their marijuana habit with the other addictive habits of drug and/or alcohol abuse.
Although certain medications may be beneficial in helping treat the underlying anxiety or depression of marijuana abuse, no specific drug has proven to be solely effective. As a result, much of the success of treatment relies on individual and group therapy. Because marijuana abuse is a habit cultivated over the years, breaking the vicious cycle requires the continuing care of trained professionals.
On an individual level, both behavioral treatments and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are effective. During therapy, individuals initially explore the root issues surrounding their behavior. As individuals become more comfortable, they can then explore any obstacles or hindrances on their path to recovery. Within the safety of a therapeutic setting, individuals can face their fears with honesty and create a plan for altering their behavior.
Because marijuana abuse is oftentimes a chronic behavior, experts recommend group therapy in addition to individual therapy. Similar to recovering from alcoholism, abstaining from marijuana requires immense dedication. While individuals may feel confident in addressing root issues, the temptation to abuse is often a lingering issue. Cultivating creative ways to commit to recovery is challenging, thus attending a regular support group of those also recovering from marijuana abuse may be beneficial. While individuals can identify and explore the underlying anxiety, a group can offer support from a place of authenticity. Together, individuals can muster the strength to create a life without marijuana. Within support groups, it is not uncommon for individuals to form friendships and/or mentorships in the healing process.
Self-Help Treatment Options
Ideally, all individuals recovering from marijuana abuse will benefit from counseling; however, full recovery entails commitment at the individual level, on a daily basis. Due to the addictive nature of marijuana, many individuals will need to employ a plethora of other habits, many of which will ease their anxiety or simply feed an oral fixation. Some common and creative ideas are as follows:
- Relaxation techniques, including meditation, deep breathing and yoga
- Chewing gum
- Eating hard candies
- Drinking water or tea
As with overcoming any addiction, full recovery requires honesty and commitment. While the initial withdrawal period is difficult, the intensity is temporary. With determination and a willingness to grow, overcoming marijuana abuse is possible. If you’d like more information on how to overcome marijuana abuse, or how we here at The Oaks at La Paloma can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.