As marijuana becomes legalized across the country, more people have begun to use it for medicinal and recreational purposes. Although many proponents of weed suggest that it is not addictive, studies show that a significant percentage of people who use marijuana develop an addiction. Telling the difference between use and dependence can be challenging for some. Because use is becoming increasingly normalized, regular consumption may not be regarded as problematic. The difference between abuse and addiction, however, becomes increasingly apparent when you consider how a person behaves and feels without it.
Recognizing the Signs of Addiction
Like with any substance, some people are able to use marijuana without developing a dependency. Legal status, however, does not mean that use of a substance is not without consequence. Over time with consistent use, tolerance increases and causes a person to need to consume more in order to achieve the same effects. Increased use can lead to the develop dependencies in which a person feels as though they need to be under the influence in order to feel “normal”. Without it, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings that can interfere with everyday life.
Some withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling restless
- Changes in appetite
- Inability to sleep
- Cravings for marijuana
- Stomach problems
- Feelings of depression
Symptoms of withdrawal range in severity from person to person. While in most cases these withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous, they can be uncomfortable and can lead a person to use in order to avoid experiencing them.
There are a number of misconceptions surrounding the safety of use of marijuana. Many advocates have popularized the idea that marijuana is not an addictive substance, and while this may be true for some people, regular consumption can lead to dependencies. If a person is unable to stop using marijuana despite its impact on their job, relationships, and other aspects of life, it is likely that an addiction has developed.
Another contributing factor to rates of marijuana addiction is the change in potency. Over the years, the amount of THC found in marijuana has increased. THC is the chemical in marijuana that produces feelings of being high. The change in composition can make marijuana more potent and addictive than what has been attributed to it in the past. Use of marijuana has evolved past just smoking it, with many people infusing the drug into food and beverages. In recent years, many people have begun using hash oil or wax, which is rich with THC, to get high. Often referred to as “dabbing”, the potency of it is extremely high, making the consequences of use more severe. Since this is a relatively new practice, the long-term effects are still largely unknown, although studies suggest that it can lead to worse problems, particularly if used by adolescents whose brain and body are still developing.
Addressing Marijuana Addiction
If marijuana use has evolved into addiction, there are methods you can use to stop completely. While withdrawal from marijuana is not necessarily life-threatening, the withdrawal symptom can be uncomfortable. Taking the following steps can help make initial detox more comfortable and may minimize the risk of relapse:
- Gradually taper off use: If you use marijuana on a consistent basis, gradually reducing your use can minimize the effect of withdrawal symptoms. This allows your body time to adjust without shocking your system. For those who only use marijuana occasionally, it may be possible to stop use altogether without experiencing significant symptoms.
- Hydrate: Drinking water and avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages can help with managing withdrawal symptoms. It can also help with flushing toxins from your body.
- Eat healthy foods: Proper nutrition and vitamins can help keep you energized. Eating junk food can negatively affect mood, making you feel irritable or sluggish. Eating fruits, vegetables, and protein can improve mood and fuel your body.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can release endorphins that boost mood. It can leave you feeling energized and can also help you sweat out toxins from your system.
- Seek support: Reach out to friends and family who can help you through withdrawal. Having a support network is vital in abstaining from substance abuse. You may even consider engaging with a therapist to help with managing mood and addressing the underlying causes that influence continued use. Your support system can help keep you on track, provide new perspective, and support you when withdrawal symptoms feel too difficult to manage.
In most cases, it is possible to stop marijuana use without professional intervention, but there are programs that can help you quit and stick to sobriety. Detox centers can help you get through initial withdrawal comfortably and can provide medical assistance if needed. There are also a number of inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities that can help you develop an individualized treatment plan to manage your addiction. With the assistance of medical professionals and support groups, you can address the underlying conditions and experiences that influence substance abuse and learn new ways to manage them. This can provide accountability and support that helps you maintain sobriety long-term.
While marijuana abuse and withdrawal may not present the same risks as other more illicit controlled substances, it can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Reach out for help if you are considering quitting marijuana. Maintaining sobriety is easier with a support network that can encourage you and keep you on track.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.