What Is Marijuana?

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Marijuana consists of dried leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems of the cannabis Sativa plant. It contains the psychoactive and mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds which act through cannabinoid receptors.

Other names for marijuana include:

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Bud
  • Ganja
  • Mary Jane
  • Herb

Cannabis can also be concentrated in a resin. This resin is called hashish.

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States. It is typically smoked as a hand-rolled cigarette called a joint, in a pipe, or in a water pipe called a bong. Marijuana smoke has a strong and distinctive sweet-and-sour scent.

The drug is also smoked in a cigar that has been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a combination of marijuana and tobacco. This is called a blunt. Another way of taking the drug is to mix the plant’s leaves, stems, flowers, or seeds into food or to brew the leaves as tea.

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Is Marijuana Addictive?

This is a highly debated question, but the ultimate answer is yes, marijuana does have addictive properties. However, most marijuana users will not get addicted to marijuana. 

Marijuana is often used socially, and due to it being legal in many states, moderate use is becoming socially acceptable. This is not an issue for most people who do not use marijuana heavily for extended periods. 

However, chronic users, or people who use marijuana daily, are at risk of developing marijuana drug use disorder. A user is diagnosed with marijuana use disorder when their use of the drug becomes problematic. 

People with substance use disorders involving marijuana often find that they have developed a dependency on the drug, meaning they experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, cravings, and other consequences when they stop using the drug.

Marijuana addiction occurs when the user cannot stop using the drug even though it has negative impacts on their life.

“In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder; 138,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their marijuana use.”

-National Institute on Drug Abuse

What Are the Health Risks of Marijuana Use?

Marijuana abuse is linked to many health issues. These problems particularly relate to heart and lung issues and mental health disorders. Marijuana smoke aggravates the lungs, and regular smokers may experience respiratory problems.

The health risks of marijuana use include:

  • Daily cough and phlegm production
  • Frequent acute chest illness
  • Increased risk of lung infections
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Damage to the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Reduced brain cells
  • Fertility problems
  • Heightened heart rate and blood pressure

Marijuana use is also linked to mental health disorders, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts (especially among adolescents)
  • Lack of motivation to participate in typically rewarding activities

When Does Marijuana Use Require Intervention?

People who take marijuana may say that the drug is harmless, and in some states, it is legal to use the drug. It may be challenging to know when to intervene when a loved one is heavily involved in marijuana use.

The symptoms give a good indication that someone may be addicted to marijuana:

  • Cravings for the drug
  • Tolerance for the drug, which results in taking higher quantities of the drug
  • Hoarding the drug
  • Spending money that should go on bills and other household expenses on the drug
  • Reducing back on work, hobbies, or social activities to use the drug
  • Taking risks while under the influence of marijuana
  • Failed attempts to stop the use of the drug
  • A need to use marijuana regularly, either daily or several times a day

People with marijuana addiction are not weak, bad, or wrong. They have a medical condition, and they need help to recover.

Approaching someone with marijuana addiction in a calm and caring way is a good approach. You may find it easier to do this when you remember to look at marijuana addiction as an illness.

Can You Go To Rehab For Marijuana?

Yes. Treatment, or “rehab,” for marijuana is available for anyone with a marijuana problem. It is very similar to treatment centers or programs for alcohol and other drug addictions. 

Substance abuse treatment for one person might not be the best option for another. If you are looking for help with your marijuana use disorder, it is essential to review your healthcare options and pick the best type of treatment for you.

Inpatient Marijuana Rehab

Inpatient care is the most intensive type of marijuana addiction treatment available. Inpatient rehab takes place entirely at the treatment facility. Patients sleep, eat, and undergo all therapies and treatments while living at the facility. 

Due to their highly structured and intensive approach, inpatient centers yield the highest rates of success for helping patients overcome their addictions. 

Residential treatment rehab programs are ideal for people who have previously failed to overcome their addiction or have a very severe case. They typically take place over 30, 60, or 90 day periods, though the lengths of time may vary depending on the individual patient. 

The main benefits of inpatient marijuana addiction treatment include:

  • 24-hour medical detox supervision and support
  • Completely drug-free environment
  • Highly structured timeline
  • A sense of community
  • Aftercare planning

Outpatient Marijuana Rehab

Outpatient marijuana rehab is a less intensive treatment option for people with a marijuana use disorder. Outpatient treatment utilizes many of the same therapies and treatments as inpatient treatment, however, patients do not live at the facility. They often return home for meals (depending on the program) and to sleep.

Outpatient rehab centers are ideal for anyone who struggles with marijuana dependency, but not addiction, or people who have to maintain work, school, or familial obligations throughout their recovery. These programs also typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, though they can be shorter or longer if necessary. 

Ongoing Recovery

Many people receiving treatment for marijuana addiction undergo behavioral therapy to address the psychological aspects of their condition. The amount of time spent in behavioral treatment differs from person to person but usually lasts around 12 weeks.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used in marijuana addiction treatment. It teaches recovering addicts to discover connections between their thoughts, feelings, and actions and improve awareness of how they impact recovery. CBT is an excellent way to prevent yourself from giving in to cravings and relapses.

Support groups are another popular way people receive ongoing recovery treatment for marijuana. There are many different support groups available for those who wish to quit marijuana use.

Marijuana Anonymous (MA) is the most specific support group for marijuana addiction. It is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and includes a 12-step program to help people work through the addiction.

However, many communities do not offer MA. Many people seeking support in their recovery may find Narcotics Anonymous (NA) a more accessible option.

Other support groups also exist, like the SMART Recovery program. This may be more suitable for someone looking for options outside the traditional 12-step model.

How to Find a Good Marijuana Treatment Program Near You

If you or someone you know is suffering from a marijuana use disorder, it is essential to get help. A good place to start is by calling SAMHSA’s national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or use their treatment locator online.

Talking with a professional and doing your own research will help you figure out which type of treatment is best for your individual needs.

You can also talk with a therapist or counselor about your marijuana use. Many therapy offices provide treatment services themselves, and if they don’t, they will help you find somewhere that does.

Paying for Marijuana Rehab

Most marijuana rehabilitation programs are covered by medical insurance. If you don’t have insurance, many facilities offer sliding scale fees or payment plans for patients who can’t afford to pay upfront.

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Resources +

NIDA. "Marijuana." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana.

Budney, Alan J et al. “Marijuana dependence and its treatment.” Addiction Science & Clinical Practice vol. 4,1 (2007): 4-16. doi:10.1151/ascp07414, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797098/

NIDA. "Marijuana." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana.

Weinstein, A M, and David A Gorelick. “Pharmacological treatment of cannabis dependence.” Current pharmaceutical design vol. 17,14 (2011): 1351-8. doi:10.2174/138161211796150846, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3171994/

Zehra, Amna et al. “Cannabis Addiction and the Brain: a Review.” Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology vol. 13,4 (2018): 438-452. doi:10.1007/s11481-018-9782-9, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6223748/

Sherman, Brian J, and Aimee L McRae-Clark. “Treatment of Cannabis Use Disorder: Current Science and Future Outlook.” Pharmacotherapy vol. 36,5 (2016): 511-35. doi:10.1002/phar.1747, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880536/

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