Marijuana (or pot, cannabis, hash, weed) is the most commonly consumed illicit drug in the US. It is legal for medical use in Washington and Colorado, and many people consider that fact as a guarantee to use it safely. But the truth is more complicated than that.
Even if Marijuana can be beneficial to the health of some people, it is still a drug. And as such, it should be used only under medical supervision and in specific cases, just like any other medicine.
Like with any drug, abusing it leads to complications, and that is what happens to regular Marijuana users.
Despite its reputation of a harmless drug, one out of eleven Marijuana users:
- becomes addicted
- develops side effects harmful to physical and mental health
- impede their social and professional life
Cannabis Abuse in Teens
Teens are the number one group abusing marijuana. They are also the most vulnerable group of users.
Their brains are still developing critical neural networks, which marijuana abuse is disrupting. That can lead to various impaired skills at an adult age, such as poor cognitive skills, mood control, and motor control.
Marijuana abuse by teens can also be a sign of a hidden co-occurring mental disorder. Young people sometimes tend to use marijuana as self-medication, thinking it is relieving but harmless. In this case, staying in a rehab program is particularly advantageous. They get the opportunity to deal with their mental condition at an early age. When looking back, many ex-addicts consider rehab as a chance to develop valuable life skills so early on.
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Effects of Marijuana Abuse
The trouble with smoking Marijuana is not only the active substance THC.
It is also the inhaling of toxic substances, similar to those in cigarettes, known to be carcinogenic. Together, they lead to some side effects in chronic smokers.
Physical effects of marijuana use:
- Respiratory impairment. Marijuana smoke is irritating to the breathing pathways and can cause a chronic cough and a risk of lung infections.
- Cardiovascular risks. Increased heart rate for too long can lead to cardiovascular events like heart attack or stroke.
- Motor control. Marijuana abuse can affect movement
- Pregnancy complications. Pregnant women consuming marijuana affect their fetus’s brain development.
- Changes in the brain. Even consuming marijuana once a day can modify brain chemistry and structures. Long-term use can diminish the user’s IQ.
Mental effects of marijuana abuse:
- Addiction. One in eleven marijuana user’s experiences cravings and anxiety without marijuana.
- Decreased ability to rational thinking and problem-solving
- In the long term, that can lead to learning and memory problems
- Less motivation for everyday activities, depression, and anxiety
- Intensified psychotic episodes in people suffering from schizophrenia
- Altered sensations and perceptions. People experience visual, acoustic, sensations in a distorted manner.
As a result, behavior and everyday life are affected:
- Impaired driving capacity
- Decline of intellectual abilities and school performance
- Risk of dropping out of school or getting fired from work
- Decreased social skills and relationships
- experiencing these negative consequences can lead the user to seek relief in more dangerous drug abuse in the future
Marijuana Rehab Treatment
Treatment plans vary from program to program and from one patient’s need to the other’s. But typically, a full recovery plan involves the following steps: detox, rehab, and aftercare.
You will be interviewed by medical professionals to personalize your treatment plan. They will need information about your history of addiction, your physical and your mental health. Based on that, you will convene an appropriate form and duration of your treatment. This interview can occur before or after a detox phase. It depends if the patient arrives intoxicated or already clean.
The first step is to remove all traces of marijuana from your body. Luckily, withdrawal from marijuana is less painful than compared to other drugs and reasonably bearable. Withdrawal symptoms resemble those of tobacco and can last up to three weeks. They start 20-50hours after quitting, get stronger after four days, but weaken after the first week. Typical marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:
- Irritability and anger
- Loss of appetite
Some people can experience panic attacks or anxiety. It is helpful then to go through detox in a professional setting. Medical staff can also provide sedatives if needed and make sure those patients are safe.
After detox, the rehab program begins. No medications are available to treat marijuana addiction itself. But most of the work is done through counseling and education. Recovering addicts learn about the effects of drug abuse on their body, mind, and life. Through counseling, their thinking patterns leading to drug use are challenged and replaced by a constructive attitude. Substantially, patients are being educated and prepared to adapt a new drug-free life.
Behavioral therapies are a quite successful approach in handling marijuana addiction. The following methods, or a mix of them, are commonly used:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Destructive thought patterns and behaviors are identified, and self-control is installed through self-awareness.
- Contingency management. Immediate incentives are provided for desired behavior. That means that patients receive money or prizes for staying clean.
- Motivational enhancement therapy. The goal is to create an internal motivation for change, rather than externally provided rewards.
How Long Does Inpatient Marijuana Rehabilitation Take?
Marijuana treatments last one, two or three months. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that a longer stay leads to greater long-term success.
After you leave the rehab program, your work just starts. You will now apply all your knowledge and practice new life skills. You might relapse sometimes, but you have to know that this is normal. For some recovering addicts, this is part of the process of installing new habits. Your body, too, needs time to adapt fully.
But you are not alone with that. To assist you with your journey to recovery, you can do two of the following things:
- Continue individual therapy. It is substantial to have an experienced person to guide or coach you, especially when you are still vulnerable. Most people find it helpful to go to post-rehab therapy for at least 10-12 months.
- Join a support group. Narcotics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous organizations are all over the country. Regular group meetings with peers facing similar challenges are encouraging to every member. They offer understanding, support and often new friendships develop.
Types of Marijuana Rehab Programs
There are two main types of treatment facilities: providing either inpatient or outpatient programs. Both types rely on intake evaluations, detox, therapy and sometimes medication.
You stay in the facility during the whole duration of the rehabilitation process. Medical staff and therapists are on-site, ready to assist you anytime. You have no access to the outside world, so you can’t access or be tempted by taking Marijuana.
An outpatient rehab center allows patients to live at home while attending treatment at the facility. They can continue attending school or work, but need to commit to regular visits at the treatment center.
Every center has its policy about medication and form of therapy. Treatment programs vary in the type of supervision, in duration and cost. But the ultimate goal of every program is to provide tools and support for people that commit to a drug-free life.
How to Choose the Right Marijuana Rehab Center
Here is what you should consider when choosing a Marijuana rehabilitation center.
Do You Have Specific Needs?
Dual diagnosis. Do you suffer from another mental health issue, like depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? Are you unsure? In this case, you should find a program that specializes in dual diagnosis. Such a program will have more psychologists or psychiatrists to focus on your mental health conditions.
Multi drug-use. Drug users often consume Marijuana in combination with their primary drug. They use it to either enhance the effects of other drugs or to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. If that is your case, you could qualify for a multi-drug use program. These treatments are more intense, as they tackle more complicated health issues and withdrawal symptoms. It is imperative to seek this program if you use another drug (including alcohol). There is no point in treating Marijuana addiction while leaving out others.
Marijuana Treatments for Minors
Young people have very different needs and reasons of drug abuse than adults. Because minors constitute a significant Marijuana consumer group, unique methods and programs focus on them.
- The SMART method adapted for youth
- Support groups like Teen Addiction Anonymous
- Inpatient facilities with the possibility to do homework.
- Outpatient services for youth enable them to go to school.
- Individual therapy adapted to their particular stage in life.
Inpatient or Outpatient program?
An inpatient program is useful for:
- Multi-drug users and heavily addicted people
- People lacking a support network at home or in their community
An outpatient setting is suitable for:
- Mildly addicted people that are relatively functional in their daily life
- Those that can’t leave their personal or professional responsibilities
- People that can’t afford an inpatient setting
Location of the Marijuana treatment center
A rehab center in your vicinity is convenient:
- If you attend an outpatient program, sleep and home and go to work or school
- Because you don’t need to pay for travel cost
A rehab facility in a distant location can be advantageous:
- If you prefer to change the environment completely
- If you are concerned about your privacy
Cost of rehab
The cost of every program can vary depending on many factors. It depends on the type of facility, its location, the standard of care or the length of stay. Here is what you can do after calculating costs:
- Ask your insurance company if your plan will cover your rehab program
- Make sure the chosen facility accepts your insurance
- Ask for payment plans if you don’t have the appropriate insurance
- Detox may be free if you are on Medicare or Medicaid.
- You can also look for faith-based programs. Some religious organizations provide free or low-cost treatments.
Do I Need Rehab From Pot?
Marijuana might not be as dangerous as heroin or crystal meth. But it can still impair your mental, physical and social life.
Teenagers are at particular risk because their brains are still developing, and drugs impede their optimal growth.
Marijuana use is often a symptom of deeper underlying issues. Traumatic life experiences or family problems frequently lead to substance abuse. A rehab stay not only treats these symptoms but also removes side effects and cravings.