What to Know About Marijuana Addiction in Vermont

Problematic marijuana use is generally classified into two different categories:

  • Marijuana use disorder (also classified as marijuana abuse)
  • Marijuana addiction

Marijuana use disorder means the user has developed a dependency on the substance, and he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms when not using it for a few days. Symptoms may include irritability, problems with sleep, lack of hunger, restlessness, and cravings for the drug.

Because of the way THC, the active chemical in marijuana, attaches to brain receptors, adverse physical and mental effects can also occur. These can involve difficulty in decision making and problem solving, balance and coordination issues, respiratory problems, depression, hallucinations and more. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can put drivers at a greater risk for causing accidents.

Marijuana addiction occurs when the user can’t stop using marijuana, even when use of the substance is having a negative impact on his or her daily life. The user may have difficulty coping with everyday challenges without the use of the drug. Because it has adapted to increasingly larger amounts of marijuana, the brain has intense cravings for more, leading to stronger physical and psychological discomfort when the cravings aren’t satisfied.

What are the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of marijuana drug addiction include:

  • Hoarding the drug
  • Spending money on drugs rather than on household expenses
  • Cutting back on work, hobbies, or social activities in order to use
  • Taking risks while under the influence
  • Failed attempts to stop using
  • A need to use the drug regularly, either daily or several times per day

How is Marijuana Addiction Treated?

Marijuana addiction is treated in a similar manner to other drug addictions. Both inpatient and outpatient drug rehab facilities offer effective programs, including counseling and education. Programs often include individual and/or group therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family counseling, and 12-step immersion programs.

Drug rehabilitation programs focus on breaking the dependency the user has on an addictive substance. The recovering addict learns how to make healthy choices, foster healthy relationships, how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, and coping skills for avoiding continued marijuana use.

Marijuana Withdrawal and Detox

Although withdrawal from marijuana is not usually life-threatening, detoxification can cause varying degrees of discomfort. Reactions ranging from moderate discomfort to physical and psychological pain can occur. Withdrawal symptoms occur as a part of the detoxification process, in which cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites are flushing from the body.

An article published in a 2015 edition of the American Journal of Drug Addictions states that between “65–70% of cannabis smokers reported relief of abstinence effects as a factor in their relapse to cannabis intake, suggesting that withdrawal symptoms can serve as negative reinforcement for relapse and, thereby, hinders quit attempts.” In other words, those that relapse after trying to quit marijuana blamed avoiding withdrawal symptoms as a major contributor.

Physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from marijuana can be both physical and psychological.

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Irritability

Physical withdrawal effects can include:

  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Poor appetite, losing weight
  • Sweating, which may be extreme
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty sleeping, unusual or disturbing dreams
  • Daytime exhaustion
  • Shakiness or tremors

Although there aren’t currently any medications to specifically treat marijuana abuse or addiction withdrawal, a treatment facility specializing in addiction recovery can offer a safe environment for detoxification. Medical professionals there can also administer medications to ease anxiety and discomfort during the detox process.

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