29 Apr Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the U.S. Although laws in several states have changed over the years to allow for medical use, or even recreational use of this drug, it is still illegal according to federal law. Along with changing laws comes changing attitudes. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes the serious consequences of using marijuana. Although marijuana is not addictive in the same way that other drugs are, many people do become dependent. With more and more young people using this drug, and its potency rising, treatment for marijuana addiction becomes increasingly important.
Evidence for Marijuana Addiction
While many advocates for greater legalization of marijuana claim that the drug is not addictive, professionals working on addiction would argue otherwise. Cases of marijuana addiction are usually less severe than other substance abuse disorders, but those affected display similar symptoms as people with serious addictions. For instance, most adults getting treatment for marijuana addiction have been using the drug for several years and have tried to quit and failed. They continue to use the drug despite mounting negative consequences like relationship difficulties, financial problems, poor productivity and trouble sleeping.
Effective Treatments for Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana has not always received the same level of attention that other, more damaging drugs have, but some researchers have addressed the question of how to treat addiction to it. The good news is that outpatient treatment using established behavioral therapy methods seems effective in helping many patients reduce their marijuana use. One such treatment method is called motivational enhancement therapy, or MET. MET involves working on motivations for making changes. Counselors trained in using MET help to guide their patients toward making real and lasting changes in their lives.
Another technique, called cognitive-behavioral therapy, also seems to have an impact on marijuana addicts. Therapists help patients to learn self-management skills, how to identify and avoid triggers, how to refuse to give in to cravings and how to generally manage a positive lifestyle. Another technique called contingency management, when combined with the other therapies, further increases the odds of success for treating marijuana addiction. Contingency management involves regular drug testing and rewards in the form of vouchers for clean tests. The longer a patient stays clean, the greater the value of the reward. This approach has been adapted from a similar technique used with some success for treating cocaine addicts.
Another, more controversial approach to treating marijuana is with the use of medications. Complete abstinence from using drugs of any kind has long been a dominant philosophy in addiction care, but as research opens up more doors to pharmacological solutions, attitudes are changing. Few studies have been conducted, but a couple of medications show promise for helping treat marijuana addicts. Some of these medications target the withdrawal symptoms, which can keep an addict coming back to the drug over and over again. Others block the user from getting a high from marijuana, rendering its use pointless.
As use of marijuana increases, especially among young people, the number of people becoming dependent on it is expected to rise as well. Although attitudes toward this drug are often lax and laws are changing to allow more access, it can be harmful and it can lead to addiction. Experts in the field of addiction research are working to find solutions to the growing problem of dependence on this drug so that more people can be freed from the chain of marijuana.
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