Marijuana and Mental Illnesses

Reviewed Nov 28, 2016

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Summary

Those drawn to marijuana often already have:

  • Problems with motivation and ambition
  • Feelings of being left out
  • Some level of depression

“People who are happy being themselves don’t like being stoned,” says Tina Tessina, a psychologist and author of a book on recovery from drug addiction.

Most marijuana users, as well as those who are drawn to any substance, have something going on in their lives they want to escape from. It could be:

  • Stress
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Obsessive thoughts or actions
  • Responsibility
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • A physical disability
  • A learning disability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual or emotional abuse
  • Childhood neglect

If they want to stop using marijuana, they must deal with their underlying problems, as well. Most treatment programs address all of someone’s issues at the same time.

Marijuana tends to attract people who already have problems with motivation. They do not have a clear plan for the future or might not feel like they fit in.

“These are the lost kids, the loners, those left out of the parties and off the teams,” says Tessina. “They are good candidates for marijuana use.”

Unfortunately, the drug itself makes their problems even worse. After giving a brief high, marijuana alters that part of the brain that tells us to hurry up and get moving. When you use pot, you can be as lazy and unmotivated as you want to be without caring about what anyone thinks, even yourself. That lack of motivation lasts much longer than the effect of the drug, because the active ingredient in the drug, THC, stays in your body for a while and physically alters your brain.
 
“The kids who know they want to go to college and know what they want to do don’t want to interfere with their goal,” Tessina says. And, the same holds true for adults. They have responsibilities and people counting on them to come through with money or time or effort.

But people who are not fully engaged in life are a likely target for marijuana use. And, they could get in trouble if they use it too much.

When you are high, you never have to work at ignoring the demands of the world around you. The THC in marijuana does it for you.

Marijuana stunts emotional growth
 
Marijuana stunts emotional growth, Tessina points out. You will not learn when your brain is muddled. “You stop taking risks, learning about life and experiencing its normal ups and downs, and even if you do, your brain is not recording it fully. If you’re stoned for a good part of the day that will have a big effect on your emotional development.”

“If you have anxiety or phobias, you are at risk for substance abuse,” says Bill Shryer, clinical director of a mental health center. “People are drawn to what they can use to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, whether it’s weed or booze. They end up sedating themselves instead of dealing with the problems.”

Those who use multiple drugs—which is often the case for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder—do not feel comfortable in their own skin, Shryer says. “They want to be altered all the time.” Some were abused as children, so they have learned to dampen down their feelings. When feelings start to bubble up, they look for something they can take to block them. That could be pills, alcohol or pot.

Marijuana is a depressant

Marijuana is a depressant, so if you already have some level of depression—even seasonal affective disorder—pot will make it worse. Then, you can find yourself using the drug to make you feel better. And, so begins a vicious cycle of drug use and worsening mental health.

Also, marijuana interferes with the way drugs used to treat mental illness work. If you know you have a mental illness, stay away from recreational drugs, including marijuana. It contains a powerful drug, THC, which can undo all the benefits of the medicine you take, while it alters the way your brain operates.

The important thing to remember is there are ways to get off this merry-go-round. Good drug treatment programs will help you address underlying mental issues while you learn to face life without hiding behind substances.

Resources

Faces & Voices of Recovery
www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/

National Institute on Drug Abuse
www.drugabuse.gov/

National Institute on Drug Abuse Teen Page
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

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 Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Those drawn to marijuana often already have:

  • Problems with motivation and ambition
  • Feelings of being left out
  • Some level of depression

“People who are happy being themselves don’t like being stoned,” says Tina Tessina, a psychologist and author of a book on recovery from drug addiction.

Most marijuana users, as well as those who are drawn to any substance, have something going on in their lives they want to escape from. It could be:

  • Stress
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Obsessive thoughts or actions
  • Responsibility
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • A physical disability
  • A learning disability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual or emotional abuse
  • Childhood neglect

If they want to stop using marijuana, they must deal with their underlying problems, as well. Most treatment programs address all of someone’s issues at the same time.

Marijuana tends to attract people who already have problems with motivation. They do not have a clear plan for the future or might not feel like they fit in.

“These are the lost kids, the loners, those left out of the parties and off the teams,” says Tessina. “They are good candidates for marijuana use.”

Unfortunately, the drug itself makes their problems even worse. After giving a brief high, marijuana alters that part of the brain that tells us to hurry up and get moving. When you use pot, you can be as lazy and unmotivated as you want to be without caring about what anyone thinks, even yourself. That lack of motivation lasts much longer than the effect of the drug, because the active ingredient in the drug, THC, stays in your body for a while and physically alters your brain.
 
“The kids who know they want to go to college and know what they want to do don’t want to interfere with their goal,” Tessina says. And, the same holds true for adults. They have responsibilities and people counting on them to come through with money or time or effort.

But people who are not fully engaged in life are a likely target for marijuana use. And, they could get in trouble if they use it too much.

When you are high, you never have to work at ignoring the demands of the world around you. The THC in marijuana does it for you.

Marijuana stunts emotional growth
 
Marijuana stunts emotional growth, Tessina points out. You will not learn when your brain is muddled. “You stop taking risks, learning about life and experiencing its normal ups and downs, and even if you do, your brain is not recording it fully. If you’re stoned for a good part of the day that will have a big effect on your emotional development.”

“If you have anxiety or phobias, you are at risk for substance abuse,” says Bill Shryer, clinical director of a mental health center. “People are drawn to what they can use to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, whether it’s weed or booze. They end up sedating themselves instead of dealing with the problems.”

Those who use multiple drugs—which is often the case for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder—do not feel comfortable in their own skin, Shryer says. “They want to be altered all the time.” Some were abused as children, so they have learned to dampen down their feelings. When feelings start to bubble up, they look for something they can take to block them. That could be pills, alcohol or pot.

Marijuana is a depressant

Marijuana is a depressant, so if you already have some level of depression—even seasonal affective disorder—pot will make it worse. Then, you can find yourself using the drug to make you feel better. And, so begins a vicious cycle of drug use and worsening mental health.

Also, marijuana interferes with the way drugs used to treat mental illness work. If you know you have a mental illness, stay away from recreational drugs, including marijuana. It contains a powerful drug, THC, which can undo all the benefits of the medicine you take, while it alters the way your brain operates.

The important thing to remember is there are ways to get off this merry-go-round. Good drug treatment programs will help you address underlying mental issues while you learn to face life without hiding behind substances.

Resources

Faces & Voices of Recovery
www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/

National Institute on Drug Abuse
www.drugabuse.gov/

National Institute on Drug Abuse Teen Page
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

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 Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Those drawn to marijuana often already have:

  • Problems with motivation and ambition
  • Feelings of being left out
  • Some level of depression

“People who are happy being themselves don’t like being stoned,” says Tina Tessina, a psychologist and author of a book on recovery from drug addiction.

Most marijuana users, as well as those who are drawn to any substance, have something going on in their lives they want to escape from. It could be:

  • Stress
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Obsessive thoughts or actions
  • Responsibility
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • A physical disability
  • A learning disability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual or emotional abuse
  • Childhood neglect

If they want to stop using marijuana, they must deal with their underlying problems, as well. Most treatment programs address all of someone’s issues at the same time.

Marijuana tends to attract people who already have problems with motivation. They do not have a clear plan for the future or might not feel like they fit in.

“These are the lost kids, the loners, those left out of the parties and off the teams,” says Tessina. “They are good candidates for marijuana use.”

Unfortunately, the drug itself makes their problems even worse. After giving a brief high, marijuana alters that part of the brain that tells us to hurry up and get moving. When you use pot, you can be as lazy and unmotivated as you want to be without caring about what anyone thinks, even yourself. That lack of motivation lasts much longer than the effect of the drug, because the active ingredient in the drug, THC, stays in your body for a while and physically alters your brain.
 
“The kids who know they want to go to college and know what they want to do don’t want to interfere with their goal,” Tessina says. And, the same holds true for adults. They have responsibilities and people counting on them to come through with money or time or effort.

But people who are not fully engaged in life are a likely target for marijuana use. And, they could get in trouble if they use it too much.

When you are high, you never have to work at ignoring the demands of the world around you. The THC in marijuana does it for you.

Marijuana stunts emotional growth
 
Marijuana stunts emotional growth, Tessina points out. You will not learn when your brain is muddled. “You stop taking risks, learning about life and experiencing its normal ups and downs, and even if you do, your brain is not recording it fully. If you’re stoned for a good part of the day that will have a big effect on your emotional development.”

“If you have anxiety or phobias, you are at risk for substance abuse,” says Bill Shryer, clinical director of a mental health center. “People are drawn to what they can use to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, whether it’s weed or booze. They end up sedating themselves instead of dealing with the problems.”

Those who use multiple drugs—which is often the case for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder—do not feel comfortable in their own skin, Shryer says. “They want to be altered all the time.” Some were abused as children, so they have learned to dampen down their feelings. When feelings start to bubble up, they look for something they can take to block them. That could be pills, alcohol or pot.

Marijuana is a depressant

Marijuana is a depressant, so if you already have some level of depression—even seasonal affective disorder—pot will make it worse. Then, you can find yourself using the drug to make you feel better. And, so begins a vicious cycle of drug use and worsening mental health.

Also, marijuana interferes with the way drugs used to treat mental illness work. If you know you have a mental illness, stay away from recreational drugs, including marijuana. It contains a powerful drug, THC, which can undo all the benefits of the medicine you take, while it alters the way your brain operates.

The important thing to remember is there are ways to get off this merry-go-round. Good drug treatment programs will help you address underlying mental issues while you learn to face life without hiding behind substances.

Resources

Faces & Voices of Recovery
www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/

National Institute on Drug Abuse
www.drugabuse.gov/

National Institute on Drug Abuse Teen Page
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

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 Arkady Bilenko, MD, Vice President, Regional Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

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