Many people think that marijuana is harmless but it’s not as safe as you might think. Additionally, with new legislation passed in several states, the accessibility of the drug for Americans is higher than it has ever been before. This will naturally lead to a greater opportunity for marijuana abuse and addiction.

Unlike many other substance use disorders, there is no FDA-approved medication specifically given to treat marijuana addiction or dependence or to ease symptoms of withdrawal. This puts even more importance on the evidence-based psychological counseling, behavioral modification, and holistic therapies available at Lasting Recovery.

And because so many people battling addiction also struggle with co-occurring psychological illness, anyone looking to successfully regain both their sobriety and their good mental health needs specialized dual diagnosis treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously.

If you live in the San Diego area and you or someone you care about has a problem with marijuana, Lasting Recovery can help. As a leading outpatient rehab program, Lasting Recovery is your first and best resource to regain not just your sobriety, but also your stability, serenity, and sanity.

Marijuana Addiction is Real

Cannabis Use Disorder is a legitimate medical condition evidenced by “problematic behavioral or psychological changes”. In other words, marijuana becomes a real problem when it stops to interfere with other areas of your life.

What are some examples of this?

  • Loss of control – using more and with greater frequency than intended
  • Personality changes – using in secret, dishonesty, loss of interest in other activities, etc.
  • Relationship difficulties – worry or arguments about use
  • Financial struggles – unpaid bills, unemployment, civil fines, etc.
  • Problems at work or school – poor performance or grades, a failed drug test, etc.
  • Psychological problems – anxiety, bipolar disorder, impaired memory, etc.
  • Health concerns – visual difficulties, heart problems, stroke, impotence, etc.
  • Legal issues – DUIs, drug court, attorney’s fees

One of the biggest symptoms of marijuana addiction is continued use despite negative consequences. This indicates that even when a person needs and even wants to quit, they are unable to.


Do You Have a Marijuana Problem?

Take this self-assessment quiz to determine if marijuana is a problem for you.

What You Need to Know About Marijuana

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. It comes from the dried flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant but is used in a variety of different ways. Often the center of controversy, marijuana also has medicinal properties but is even abused in the healthcare system. The drug goes by many street names including:

  • Weed
  • Mary Jane
  • Herb
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Dope
  • Hash

Unlike many other drugs, marijuana can only be consumed in two different ways: inhalation and ingestion. People do not inject marijuana, nor do they use it in suppository form.

  • Inhalation – Also known as "smoking," this type of consumption creates an instant high that lasts for about a 2-3 hours. Inhaling marijuana can be done using a glass pipe, bong, papers, or cigar wraps.
  • Ingestion - Also known as "edibles," this type of consumption takes longer to set in, but can last up to six hours. Marijuana is often baked into treats like brownies or cookies, but with the weaker regulations coming to pass, the types of edibles on the market vary greatly.

The Risks of Marijuana Use

Despite what its proponents might say, there are a number of adverse health effects associated with long-term regular marijuana use. Part of the reason that marijuana is more harmful and addictive than ever – especially for adolescents – is the fact that the strains of marijuana that are cultivated and smoked today are 244% more potent than they were a generation ago.

Recreational Marijuana Use

People who use marijuana recreationally do so for its psychoactive effect a.k.a. the "high" that it produces. When marijuana's active ingredient, THC, enters the bloodstream, many users report feeling more relaxed, euphoric, and creative. As with all mind-altering recreational drugs, however, those feelings can lead to a deprivation when coming down.

People may feel relaxed, but it's only because they are not currently dealing with the real-life problems that gave them stress. They may feel euphoric, but when the effects of the drug wear off, they can also suffer a crash that leaves them depressed equally as long. They may feel creative, but the grandiose ideas they had when they were stoned very rarely become reality when their mind clears.

Marijuana IS Addictive

The definition of addiction is continuing to engage in a behavior despite being faced with negative repercussions. That definition can be expanded upon when it comes to marijuana because some typical addictive behavior of users would include increased and unintentional usage, greater tolerance, failure when attempting to abstain, a significant amount of time spent in its acquisition, and a negative impact upon other life activities and responsibilities. Obviously, when this accepted definition of addiction is used, marijuana should definitely be considered addictive.

Marijuana IS a Gateway Drug

Studies have shown that exposure to THC can compound the effect of other drugs taken at a later point. Prior marijuana use alters the brain's ability to produce dopamine to the point that the new drug has a much greater effect. This effect is particularly strong among adolescents. It is believed that these changes in the brain make a younger individual much more vulnerable to addiction and drug abuse later in life. This phenomenon is called cross-sensitization.

Frighteningly, among those individuals beginning treatment at an outpatient drug rehab program, 61% of individuals who are 15 or younger list marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. Incidentally, the connection between drug use and criminal activity has been well-documented, making marijuana use a gateway into a life of crime as well.

Why Not Pot? - A Review On The Harms and Risks of Marijuana

In this 6 part series, Medical Director at Lasting Recovery, Dr. Kai MacDonald discusses the risks associated with marijuana use and the potential harm that can come from the common misconception that this drug is not addictive.

To learn more about the brain-based risks of cannabis, download article PDF: Why Not Pot?

Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Like any and every drug in the world, the symptoms of marijuana abuse generally present themselves through behavior first, with the end result of use causing physical damage. These symptoms associated with marijuana abuse include:

Behavioral Symptoms

When someone is abusing marijuana, there are typical behaviors that may present themselves such as:

  • Increased and unintentional usage
  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of judgment
  • Decreased attention span
  • Greater tolerance
  • Failure when attempting to abstain
  • A significant amount of time spent in its acquisition
  • A negative impact upon other life activities and responsibilities
Mental / Emotional Symptoms

Once an individual begins to lose control, marijuana will begin to affect their mental and emotional states. This can be seen with symptoms like:

  • Euphoria
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed reactions
  • Cognitive impairment (less brain volume in the orbitofrontal cortex)
  • Decreased concentration
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Lowered IQs – on average, a minimum of 5 points less
Physical Symptoms

There are many short-term physical effects to marijuana use. Additionally, with chronic use comes long-term physical issues as well (and often depends on the type of consumption). The following are some physical signs of marijuana abuse:

  • Increased heart rate ( up to 20-50 more beats per minute)
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Temporary sterility in men
  • Menstrual cycle disruptions
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite / overeating
  • Fatigue
  • Birth defects and low birth rates when smoked during pregnancy
  • Orthostatic hypotension (head rush or dizziness when standing up)

If you suspect that you or a loved one might have a problem with marijuana abuse take a self-assessment to determine if you need help.

How Big Of A Problem is Marijuana Abuse?

marijuana oil depicting the dangersMarijuana plays a complicated role in societies around the world, and in America, the role is changing by the day. With state and federal legislature in opposition, many people are left wondering what is and is not legal, as well as the negative effects of the drug. As more people begin to use the drug, more people become addicted. Statistics show that marijuana users typically call in sick to work on a more frequent basis than non-users.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30% of users develop some degree of Cannabis Use Disorder, which includes problematic abuse, dependence, and addiction. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that there are 24 million marijuana users in the United States, so that means that there are more than 7 million people struggling due to their marijuana use.

A Few Facts:

  • Marijuana is associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia, especially in those with a genetic vulnerability.
  • 1 in 5 adults age 18-25 use marijuana on a daily basis.
  • Approximately 9% of marijuana users become addicted.
  • Marijuana can cause the expression of otherwise latent mental disorders.
  • As more states move to legalize marijuana, we will see an increase in both anticipated and unanticipated cannabis-related harms in those who use it.
  • Some evidence has shown that a person’s risk of a heart attack during the first hour after smoking marijuana increases by 500%.
  • Studies have linked early use of marijuana in adolescence to increased cases of testicular cancer.

Marijuana Abuse in San Diego and California

showing the risks of marijuana addictionThe rate of marijuana use in California is much higher than the national average, 12.88% versus 8.9%. So here in San Diego County, there are over 427,000 current marijuana users, including 128,000 people who are dependent or addicted.

This means that you almost definitely know someone whose life is chaotic and unmanageable because of their chronic use of marijuana… and that person may even be YOU.

Because both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in California, too many people are under the mistaken impression that it is completely harmless. And as legislation continues to change around the country, that public perception will only grow. But nothing can be further from the truth.

Marijuana is incredibly popular in California, and recent laws have made the drug legal to use recreationally. That is not to say there aren't still a lot of issues people can face when it comes to abusing the substance. The following are some statistics about pot use in the state of California:

  • California ranks 10th in the country for marijuana use, with 9.8% of people 12 years and older reporting having used the drug in the past month.
  • In 2007, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released statistics indicating that 42 % of parolees who had been convicted of marijuana-related offenses were back in custody within two years.
  • According to the Attorney General, there were 13,779 felony marijuana arrests in California in 2013.

Click here for the articles in our blog about the dangers of Marijuana – You will find 50+ topics for your education and help educate others who may need this help.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Unlike many other substance use disorders, there is no FDA-approved medication specifically given to treat marijuana dependence or addiction or to ease symptoms of withdrawal. However, the National Institute on Drug Addiction, in a pilot clinical trial found that those persons in outpatient treatment who were treated with gabapentin versus those who received a placebo, were able to reduce their cannabis use and had fewer symptoms of drug withdrawal. This puts even more importance on evidence-based psychological counseling, behavioral modification, and holistic therapies.

And because so many people battling addiction also struggle with co-occurring psychological illness, anyone looking to successfully regain both their sobriety and their good mental health needs specialized treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously.

The Intensive Outpatient Programs and Partial Hospitalization treatment at Lasting Recovery address the disease of addiction on multiple levels and are designed to support and further your journey of recovery. Our individualized services address the unique mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and social needs of each client.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with marijuana or any other addictive substance, the experienced team at Lasting Recovery can help. As one of the leading outpatient rehab programs in San Diego, Lasting Recovery is your first and best resource to regain not just your sobriety, but also your stability, serenity, and sanity.

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