Marijuana Use Disorder Treatment

Reviewed Nov 27, 2017

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Summary

Any treatment problem requires:

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Commitment

It is time. You need to do something about all the time and money you spend getting high, and instead spend it on living a full life. Your friends are pushing you into treatment, and so is your parent.

Now what happens?

Treatment for marijuana use varies with the characteristics of your use.

A professional, certified drug counselor can sort out what will work best for you. She will ask:

  • When did you start smoking pot? If you started as a teenager, you may have a lot more work to do than if you started as an adult.
  • How often do you smoke? If you smoke pot every day, you may be addicted. If you smoke less often, you might find it easier to change your patterns.
  • When or why do you smoke? If you smoke to relax under stress, you need to find new ways to handle that stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy—or talk therapy—can do that, along with the support of a 12-step program.
  • How much do you use? If you have increased the amount you smoke over years and use a pipe to get the maximum amount of THC each time, you might experience more severe withdrawal when trying to stop.
  • How has your use affected you? Has it ended relationships, jobs or your education? Are you 40 years old and still living in your parents’ house because you have lost your desire to support yourself?

People seeking treatment for marijuana also often use alcohol and other drugs, especially alcohol and cocaine. You will deal with all of your substance issues at the same time.

Also, most people who turn to marijuana or other drugs do so because they are looking for a way to deal with problems. Maybe they have anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Whatever it is, they know there is something not right with their life, and they self-medicate with something that makes them feel better. Drug treatment must go hand-in-hand with treatment for underlying problems.

Do not be surprised and do not be afraid if your search for drug treatment leads you to find out you have an underlying mental health problem. With help, you should be able to work toward a much better life.

Treatment options

  1. Behavioral treatments. Talk out your problems with someone who can point you in a new direction.
  2. Drug therapy. Prescribed medicine can reduce some of the anxiety that led to abuse.
  3. Family therapy. It is usually not enough for one member of a family to change.
  4. Residential treatment. Change the environment and change the habit.
  5. Rehabilitation. Learn new ways to build self-esteem, handle stress and accept responsibility.
  6. Group counseling. You can benefit from the experience of others.
  7. Group support. Knowing you have a group behind you can help you make positive choices.
  8. Recovery programs. Twelve-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, have helped millions.

You may benefit from one, some or all of these options. All take time, effort and a commitment to change for the better.

“Therapy is a way of lining up one’s ducks in a row in a way that makes sense for you,” explains Joseph Lee, MD, in his book Recovering My Kid. “It helps [you] make peace with the past and gain hope for the future.”

“Everything comes crashing down when you give up whatever addictive substance you’ve been using to avoid problems,” says Tessina. You need treatment and recovery support to help you sort out all the stuff that addiction has left you unable to deal with, she adds.

You might ask yourself, what’s the big deal? It’s only marijuana, a natural plant that has been used by millions for centuries.

“But it is still a very powerful drug, and has been carefully grown to get stronger and stronger,” says Jenny Karstad, a drug counselor who oversees treatment at a mental health center. It is not sold as something to make you healthy, but as something to let you escape reality for a while.

Yes, but it has been decriminalized in my state and even used as medicine for some people who have terrible diseases.

“Just because marijuana use or medical marijuana use has been de-criminalized, doesn’t change the parameters or treatment of the addiction,” Tessina explains. “Being addicted has nothing to do with whether the substance is legal or illegal. Alcohol is legal, but one can still have alcohol use disorder.”

Will I go through withdrawal?

If you are physically addicted to the drug, yes, you will and it might be uncomfortable. but it might not be very noticeable.

If you break a leg and take painkillers for 2 weeks then stop, your legs might feel funny. A few days later, they are fine. You have gone through withdrawal without knowing it, says Jenny Karstad. “People who develop a drug dependency sometimes don’t realize they are dependent until they stop.”

If you stop using marijuana, you might get irritable or cranky, have stomach cramps or a little nausea. That will go away in a week or so. “If you use a drug long enough, you don’t know what normal is, after a while,” Karstad adds. “It can feel a little weird.”

If you are using other drugs or alcohol, your withdrawal may be more severe. A drug counselor will help you deal with it.

How will I keep sober after treatment?

Most people get help from a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous. There are programs for people of all ages. You can get a lot out of sharing your story, and learn from others. Also, it helps to know that you are not alone while you are learning to face life without marijuana.

Resources

Marijuana Anonymous
www.marijuana-anonymous.org/

Nar-Anon Family Groups
http://nar-anon.org/naranon/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Sandrine Pirard, MD, PhD, MPH, VP Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Any treatment problem requires:

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Commitment

It is time. You need to do something about all the time and money you spend getting high, and instead spend it on living a full life. Your friends are pushing you into treatment, and so is your parent.

Now what happens?

Treatment for marijuana use varies with the characteristics of your use.

A professional, certified drug counselor can sort out what will work best for you. She will ask:

  • When did you start smoking pot? If you started as a teenager, you may have a lot more work to do than if you started as an adult.
  • How often do you smoke? If you smoke pot every day, you may be addicted. If you smoke less often, you might find it easier to change your patterns.
  • When or why do you smoke? If you smoke to relax under stress, you need to find new ways to handle that stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy—or talk therapy—can do that, along with the support of a 12-step program.
  • How much do you use? If you have increased the amount you smoke over years and use a pipe to get the maximum amount of THC each time, you might experience more severe withdrawal when trying to stop.
  • How has your use affected you? Has it ended relationships, jobs or your education? Are you 40 years old and still living in your parents’ house because you have lost your desire to support yourself?

People seeking treatment for marijuana also often use alcohol and other drugs, especially alcohol and cocaine. You will deal with all of your substance issues at the same time.

Also, most people who turn to marijuana or other drugs do so because they are looking for a way to deal with problems. Maybe they have anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Whatever it is, they know there is something not right with their life, and they self-medicate with something that makes them feel better. Drug treatment must go hand-in-hand with treatment for underlying problems.

Do not be surprised and do not be afraid if your search for drug treatment leads you to find out you have an underlying mental health problem. With help, you should be able to work toward a much better life.

Treatment options

  1. Behavioral treatments. Talk out your problems with someone who can point you in a new direction.
  2. Drug therapy. Prescribed medicine can reduce some of the anxiety that led to abuse.
  3. Family therapy. It is usually not enough for one member of a family to change.
  4. Residential treatment. Change the environment and change the habit.
  5. Rehabilitation. Learn new ways to build self-esteem, handle stress and accept responsibility.
  6. Group counseling. You can benefit from the experience of others.
  7. Group support. Knowing you have a group behind you can help you make positive choices.
  8. Recovery programs. Twelve-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, have helped millions.

You may benefit from one, some or all of these options. All take time, effort and a commitment to change for the better.

“Therapy is a way of lining up one’s ducks in a row in a way that makes sense for you,” explains Joseph Lee, MD, in his book Recovering My Kid. “It helps [you] make peace with the past and gain hope for the future.”

“Everything comes crashing down when you give up whatever addictive substance you’ve been using to avoid problems,” says Tessina. You need treatment and recovery support to help you sort out all the stuff that addiction has left you unable to deal with, she adds.

You might ask yourself, what’s the big deal? It’s only marijuana, a natural plant that has been used by millions for centuries.

“But it is still a very powerful drug, and has been carefully grown to get stronger and stronger,” says Jenny Karstad, a drug counselor who oversees treatment at a mental health center. It is not sold as something to make you healthy, but as something to let you escape reality for a while.

Yes, but it has been decriminalized in my state and even used as medicine for some people who have terrible diseases.

“Just because marijuana use or medical marijuana use has been de-criminalized, doesn’t change the parameters or treatment of the addiction,” Tessina explains. “Being addicted has nothing to do with whether the substance is legal or illegal. Alcohol is legal, but one can still have alcohol use disorder.”

Will I go through withdrawal?

If you are physically addicted to the drug, yes, you will and it might be uncomfortable. but it might not be very noticeable.

If you break a leg and take painkillers for 2 weeks then stop, your legs might feel funny. A few days later, they are fine. You have gone through withdrawal without knowing it, says Jenny Karstad. “People who develop a drug dependency sometimes don’t realize they are dependent until they stop.”

If you stop using marijuana, you might get irritable or cranky, have stomach cramps or a little nausea. That will go away in a week or so. “If you use a drug long enough, you don’t know what normal is, after a while,” Karstad adds. “It can feel a little weird.”

If you are using other drugs or alcohol, your withdrawal may be more severe. A drug counselor will help you deal with it.

How will I keep sober after treatment?

Most people get help from a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous. There are programs for people of all ages. You can get a lot out of sharing your story, and learn from others. Also, it helps to know that you are not alone while you are learning to face life without marijuana.

Resources

Marijuana Anonymous
www.marijuana-anonymous.org/

Nar-Anon Family Groups
http://nar-anon.org/naranon/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Sandrine Pirard, MD, PhD, MPH, VP Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Any treatment problem requires:

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Commitment

It is time. You need to do something about all the time and money you spend getting high, and instead spend it on living a full life. Your friends are pushing you into treatment, and so is your parent.

Now what happens?

Treatment for marijuana use varies with the characteristics of your use.

A professional, certified drug counselor can sort out what will work best for you. She will ask:

  • When did you start smoking pot? If you started as a teenager, you may have a lot more work to do than if you started as an adult.
  • How often do you smoke? If you smoke pot every day, you may be addicted. If you smoke less often, you might find it easier to change your patterns.
  • When or why do you smoke? If you smoke to relax under stress, you need to find new ways to handle that stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy—or talk therapy—can do that, along with the support of a 12-step program.
  • How much do you use? If you have increased the amount you smoke over years and use a pipe to get the maximum amount of THC each time, you might experience more severe withdrawal when trying to stop.
  • How has your use affected you? Has it ended relationships, jobs or your education? Are you 40 years old and still living in your parents’ house because you have lost your desire to support yourself?

People seeking treatment for marijuana also often use alcohol and other drugs, especially alcohol and cocaine. You will deal with all of your substance issues at the same time.

Also, most people who turn to marijuana or other drugs do so because they are looking for a way to deal with problems. Maybe they have anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Whatever it is, they know there is something not right with their life, and they self-medicate with something that makes them feel better. Drug treatment must go hand-in-hand with treatment for underlying problems.

Do not be surprised and do not be afraid if your search for drug treatment leads you to find out you have an underlying mental health problem. With help, you should be able to work toward a much better life.

Treatment options

  1. Behavioral treatments. Talk out your problems with someone who can point you in a new direction.
  2. Drug therapy. Prescribed medicine can reduce some of the anxiety that led to abuse.
  3. Family therapy. It is usually not enough for one member of a family to change.
  4. Residential treatment. Change the environment and change the habit.
  5. Rehabilitation. Learn new ways to build self-esteem, handle stress and accept responsibility.
  6. Group counseling. You can benefit from the experience of others.
  7. Group support. Knowing you have a group behind you can help you make positive choices.
  8. Recovery programs. Twelve-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, have helped millions.

You may benefit from one, some or all of these options. All take time, effort and a commitment to change for the better.

“Therapy is a way of lining up one’s ducks in a row in a way that makes sense for you,” explains Joseph Lee, MD, in his book Recovering My Kid. “It helps [you] make peace with the past and gain hope for the future.”

“Everything comes crashing down when you give up whatever addictive substance you’ve been using to avoid problems,” says Tessina. You need treatment and recovery support to help you sort out all the stuff that addiction has left you unable to deal with, she adds.

You might ask yourself, what’s the big deal? It’s only marijuana, a natural plant that has been used by millions for centuries.

“But it is still a very powerful drug, and has been carefully grown to get stronger and stronger,” says Jenny Karstad, a drug counselor who oversees treatment at a mental health center. It is not sold as something to make you healthy, but as something to let you escape reality for a while.

Yes, but it has been decriminalized in my state and even used as medicine for some people who have terrible diseases.

“Just because marijuana use or medical marijuana use has been de-criminalized, doesn’t change the parameters or treatment of the addiction,” Tessina explains. “Being addicted has nothing to do with whether the substance is legal or illegal. Alcohol is legal, but one can still have alcohol use disorder.”

Will I go through withdrawal?

If you are physically addicted to the drug, yes, you will and it might be uncomfortable. but it might not be very noticeable.

If you break a leg and take painkillers for 2 weeks then stop, your legs might feel funny. A few days later, they are fine. You have gone through withdrawal without knowing it, says Jenny Karstad. “People who develop a drug dependency sometimes don’t realize they are dependent until they stop.”

If you stop using marijuana, you might get irritable or cranky, have stomach cramps or a little nausea. That will go away in a week or so. “If you use a drug long enough, you don’t know what normal is, after a while,” Karstad adds. “It can feel a little weird.”

If you are using other drugs or alcohol, your withdrawal may be more severe. A drug counselor will help you deal with it.

How will I keep sober after treatment?

Most people get help from a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous. There are programs for people of all ages. You can get a lot out of sharing your story, and learn from others. Also, it helps to know that you are not alone while you are learning to face life without marijuana.

Resources

Marijuana Anonymous
www.marijuana-anonymous.org/

Nar-Anon Family Groups
http://nar-anon.org/naranon/

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Jenny Karstad, MA, LADC, LCMHC, clinical supervisor, Brattleboro Retreat Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center, Brattleboro, VT; Joseph Lee, MD, psychiatrist, medical director for youth services and national advocate for adolescent addiction and mental health issues, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centers, Minneapolis, MN; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, clinical director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare Centers, Danville, CA; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs, Long Beach, CA
Reviewed by Sandrine Pirard, MD, PhD, MPH, VP Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

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