Marijuana is an herb that derives from the Cannabis plant. The drug can be smoked, eaten, or even brewed in tea. Many people wrongly assume that this natural substance cannot lead to marijuana dependence. The truth is, marijuana dependence can develop from frequent and extended use of the drug. People will begin to crave the feelings of relaxation that the drug can potentially provide. Just like with other substances, a marijuana dependence can alter the chemicals in the brain, making it very difficult to quit without professional assistance.
What Is Marijuana Dependence?
Marijuana dependence is when a person continues to abuse the substance, even when its use can result in social, mental and even physical impairments. While it is not considered to be as addictive as other illegal drugs, such as heroin, marijuana dependence can still affect a person’s financial, occupational and family relationships.
Why Is Marijuana Use and Dependence So Common?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use represents 4.2 million of the 6.9 million Americans who abuse illegal drugs. Use and dependence can be common because the substance can be highly accessible as a drug and are not thought of as being as taboo as other drugs of abuse, such as heroin or methamphetamines.
Why Do People Often Not Believe They Are Dependent?
While marijuana dependence is not considered to be as severe as some addiction forms, quitting can be extremely difficult. According to the journal “Addiction Science Clinical Practice,” abusers who use the drug for more than 10 years have typically tried to quit at least six times and have failed. People who abuse the substance may commonly believe they are not dependent upon it.
What Is Cross Addiction?
The substance is often considered a gateway drug. This is because use, especially earlier in life, can deplete a person’s feel-good chemical stores. This can lead a person to seek out other drugs as a means to boost these sensations. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most people who use illegal drugs tried Cannabis first. However, there are many people who smoke the substance and never use other drugs.
Signs and Symptoms of Cannabis Dependence and Abuse
Signs and symptoms associated with cannabis dependence include red, bloodshot eyes; difficulty problem solving; dry mouth; excess hunger; poor coordination; anxiety; fast heartbeat and memory problems.
Dangers of Cannabis Addiction
Using the substance can have both short- and long-term effects. Short-term effects associated with use include difficulty thinking clearly, lack of coordination, memory loss and problems learning. Long-term effects associated with marijuana addiction include brain changes, fertility problems, affected respiratory function, an affected immune system and emotional disorders. These include depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
Additionally, in Indiana, using the substance is illegal. Using it can increase the likelihood you could be arrested for possessing an illegal drug. Additionally, employers may require drug testing that could exclude you from getting hired for a job.
Treatment for Cannabis Addiction
Treatments for cannabis addiction can depend upon if a person is also addicted to another substance, such as another drug or alcohol. Those who suffer from marijuana dependence disorders also often have psychiatric conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Treatment for cannabis addiction can focus on a singular addiction or multiple addictions or mental health disorders.
Approaches to treatment for cannabis addiction can include cognitive-behavioral therapy to help the person struggling with addiction to acknowledge and identify their struggles with marijuana. Motivational enhancement therapy is another approach used to help a person overcome a cannabis addiction. This therapy is designed to enhance a person’s motivation by providing rewards for stopping marijuana abuse. While detoxing from some drugs, such as heroin, may have medications that can reduce withdrawal symptoms, no medications are currently indicated for marijuana withdrawal.