Cannabis commonly referred to as marijuana, pot or weed, historically has been considered not harmful. However, because of its harmful effects on the brain, this mainstream drug can be devastating. After completing a comprehensive clinical evaluation, our Beacon House professionals will create a program to meet the specific needs of the cannabis addict. Our Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center is the best place to overcome cannabis abuse in Northern California.

Cannabis addiction often links to co-occurring mood disorders including anxiety and depression. Therefore, as part of the Beacon House commitment, our team of professionals will help to identify and treat these underlying issues.

Cannabis Addiction Facts and Statistics

When it comes to the long list of highly addictive drugs available both legally and illegally in our country today, most individuals would likely not consider cannabis—called marijuana, pot, weed, dope, reefer as well as dozens of other names—as one of great concern or a major problem in modern society. But in fact, cannabis abuse is a very real epidemic that has the potential to cause a host of problems in the addict and certainly negatively impacts lives.

Group therapy meetingThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that approximately nine percent of people who use marijuana will become abusers, and upwards of 20 percent of users—some 4.5 million people—will develop some level of dependence on the drug. Currently, cannabis is considered the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, with 7.3 percent of Americans 12 years of age or older using the drug in the past month. And the average age of first use for many individuals in less than 18 years old.

When compared to the number of people who develop an addiction to alcohol—about seven percent—the scope of the problem becomes much clearer. But despite these statistics, only some 350,000 people annually are admitted to substance abuse centers for the treatment of marijuana addiction, a number considered by many healthcare professionals to be a small fraction of the number of people dependent on the drug.

Cannabis, a plant that grows wild in nearly every climate on the planet and, in recent decades, has been cultivated indoors on a large scale, contains the active ingredient delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol, more commonly known as THC. The drug works by rapidly entering the brain, attaching to cannabinoid receptors and preventing the chemicals naturally occurring there from regulating how cells send, receive and process information. Essentially, brain activity is slowed down considerably, resulting in a temporary dimming of mental awareness.

Typically, the drug comes in three main forms:

  • marijuana- made from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant
  • hashish- made from the resin (or secreted gum) of the cannabis plant
  • hash oil- a thick substance derived from hashish.

Each form of cannabis has different levels of potency, and lately more and more of the drug is being made into substances that allow it to be eaten—pot cookies, brownies, and even candies, for instance—rather than taken in the traditional manner which is smoked in cigarette form (as a “joint”) or in an apparatus such as a waterpipe (“bong”) or other wooden, plastic or metal pipe.

Most people who use cannabis either occasionally or on a regular basis do so to experience a sense of mild to moderate euphoria and relaxation, the characteristic “high” that affects mood, thinking and perception. The most common effects of cannabis use include a feeling of wellbeing; talkativeness; drowsiness; a loss of inhibitions; increased appetite; and a loss of coordination.

However, with serious and prolonged use a condition known as cannabis psychosis can occur, and the effects of the psychosis can be severe and mentally damaging.

Such symptoms of this condition can include:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • intense feelings of paranoia
  • disorganized thinking
  • difficulties in expressing emotions
  • difficulties in concentrating for even short periods of time
  • serious loss of motivation

Understanding Cannabis Side Effects

There are both long- and short-term side effects from the use of cannabis, many relatively mild but some certainly serious. Of course, the natural effects cannabis provides—an immediate sense of relaxation, a soothing of anxiety and a feeling of euphoria that allows the user to escape from the stresses of daily life—can also easily lead to a dramatic loss of motivation and a lack of attention to common responsibilities.

Cannabis works by rapidly entering the brain and attaching to cannabinoid receptors, preventing the chemicals naturally occurring there from regulating how cells send, receive and process information. Activity in the brain is therefore significantly slowed, resulting in the characteristic “high” users experience.

Physically, consistent use of cannabis—whether smoked in its most common plant form or as hash or hash oil—leads to an increase in the same respiratory diseases associated with smoking tobacco. Additionally, because marijuana can stimulate appetite while decreasing the desire for physical activities, the persistent user will often experience weight gains and a general deterioration of good health.

However, it’s the psychological side effects of constant cannabis abuse that should be considered very serious and most certainly negatively life-altering. Severe memory loss and a decrease in learning abilities are both often reported with consistent use—for example, every day or several times a week—of cannabis. Also, cannabis addiction and depression have been studied by health experts who have determined that the two conditions are quite often linked: some estimates even suggest that more than half of all cannabis addicts have an underlying mental issue such as chronic depression. And in fact, several mental health issues are also linked to chronic cannabis abuse and addiction, including uncontrollable anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (marijuana use can even shut down the processes by which dreams form in the brain, a troubling occurrence for PTSD victims who experience nightmares) and even schizophrenia. If any of these health conditions exist in the cannabis abuser it’s vital that drug addiction counseling or other professional healthcare—including psychiatric diagnosis—be sought, as marijuana use can easily mask these very serious psychological issues.

Lastly, although rare there is a condition known as cannabis overdose that has been reported. In the case of overdose—also known as “greening out”—the user may:

  • feel intense feelings of paranoia, fear, and anxiety
  • shortness of breath
  • a fast heart rate
  • a shaking feeling and pupil dilation
  • may vomit or become nauseated
  • severe disorientation
  • hallucinations

Fortunately, this situation does not result in any permanent disability or death and is most common in people who have not used the drug often

What Are Marijuana Addiction Symptoms?

There are many signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse that can signal whether a state of addiction to the drug has been reached. And if an addict or abuser—or friend or family member of that addict—is concerned that their use of cannabis is out of control, it’s important to take action in seeking professional help to determine the severity of the dependence and what steps can be taken to cease use of the drug.

Beacon House Rehab BlogThe first and most obvious sign of marijuana addiction (marijuana, hash etc.) is that a state of tolerance on the drug has been reached. When marijuana use first begins, it often takes only a small amount of the drug to feel the desired effects of relaxation and euphoria. But in time the body and brain quickly become accustomed to the effects and therefore the user must smoke more and more of the drug to achieve the characteristic “high.” And often, the abuser will lose control over their use of marijuana, perhaps making promises to cut back but finding themselves unable to do so as they have become dependent on the drug’s ability to create an “escapist” sense from daily responsibilities. Likewise, an obvious sign of cannabis abuse occurs when the user spends most their time getting high and begins to ignore friends and family as well as activities once enjoyed.

If someone who is a consistent user of cannabis begins choosing their relationships based on use of the drug—essentially spending more and more time with people who also abuse marijuana—there’s a good chance that a state of addiction to the drug has occurred. Also, if a cannabis user ceases using the drug, they will most likely experience a state of withdrawal, which can take the form of insomnia, anxiety and a sudden loss of appetite.

Of course, one of the hallmarks of cannabis use is the pleasurable sense of relaxation it provides. However, if the addict suddenly begins using the drug to calm down or reduce anxiety—and if they’re unable to reach a state of relaxation without cannabis—there is a clear indication that a state of physical and mental dependence has been reached. Additionally, a lack of ability to handle daily responsibilities—a job, school, caring for a family etc.—is common with long-term cannabis use, as is a persistent lack of productivity when attempting even simple tasks.

Lastly, most often frequent cannabis users experience negative consequences as a result of their abuse of the drug, whether it’s the loss of a job, strained relationships with family and friends or financial and legal troubles. And if the user continues to abuse cannabis despite knowing the negative consequences that accompany that use there is a good chance that a level of addiction exists, and professional help should be sought to determine the extent of the addiction and what courses of action can be taken to cease abuse of the drug.

Coping with Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms

Although it had long been believed that are no physical or psychological effects when ceasing cannabis use, healthcare professionals and addiction specialists are now finding that there are indeed symptoms chronic abusers experience during the cannabis withdrawal process. Because the drug and its active ingredient, delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol or THC, is stored in the fat cells of the body, it takes considerably longer to “clear” the system than other drugs or alcohol, and therefore many parts of the body remain under the influence of cannabis for as long as several months.

By far the most common withdrawal symptom from cannabis addiction is persistent insomnia, which can last for only a few days or as long as a few months and range from nights of no sleep at all to a period of occasional sleeplessness. Vivid and disturbing dreams and nightmares can also accompany these sleep problems as the drug tends to suppress the dreaming mechanisms of the brain. Another withdrawal symptom—rarer than insomnia but still to be expected—are bouts of depression ranging from mild to moderate, a result of the fact that the euphoric “high” cannabis users experience is suddenly no longer present and emotional states within the body are returning to normal.

Also, a reality for many cannabis users ceasing their abuse of the drug is a period of anger that can take the form of simple irritability to sudden outbursts of aggression. In fact, the presence of anger in the detoxing addict is just one part of the emotional ups and downs that can be expected during this period.

Additional psychological withdrawl symptoms within the first month of withdrawal:

  • anxiety
  • a sense of fear
  • a loss of one’s sense of humor
  • a significant decrease or increase in sexual drive and desire
  • a lack of ability to concentrate

Typically, within three months nearly all these symptoms will fade as the body and mind return to a state of normalcy free of the influence of THC.

Physical withdrawal symptoms-

  • persistent headache, which can last for a few weeks or up to a couple of months
  • night sweats, a part of the body’s natural process of ridding itself of toxins
  • unusual hand sweating
  • unpleasant body odors
  • persistent coughing up of mucus

Eating disorders may also occur during the cannabis detoxification period, especially a profound loss of appetite, digestion problems or cramping after meals and nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting). Tremors, shaking and dizziness may also be present during this time, and hormone changes, chronic fatigue, and minor eye problems have been reported by recovering addicts.

Getting Marijuana Addiction Treatment

When seeking help for cannabis addiction it’s important to seek out a comprehensive in- or out-patient rehabilitation facility where counselors and healthcare professionals can help the addict confront their drug abuse and offer tools and resources to assist in the detoxification process as well as provide guidance for lasting recovery.

Often the first step in recovery is to take a basic cannabis addiction test which asks questions that can determine if a problem exists and the extent of addiction or abuse:

  • Do you smoke marijuana without needing a specific reason?
  • Do you smoke in the morning, and do you build your life around using the drug?
  • Has your use of cannabis affected interpersonal relationships with family and friends and has it impacted your work or career?
  • Do you use the drug to avoid dealing with emotional issues?

These and other questions are vital in understanding the abuse and what steps should be taken to end that dependence.

As with other drug addictions, there are simple steps the cannabis addict can take to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal during the detoxification period, such as:

  • drinking plenty of water or juices to help purify and cleanse the body of delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis
  • eating a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables
  • eliminating excess fat from the diet until digestion improves in the post-detoxification period
  • eliminating caffeine until sleep patterns normalize
  • consistent exercise, which helps the body heal and assists the brain in coping with the emotional issues that arise when cannabis use is stopped.

Of course, one of the most vital elements of recovery is to attend—either on an in- or out-patient basis—cannabis addiction meetings, which can be vitally helpful in giving support and encouragement during the post-detoxification period and assist in preventing a relapse into cannabis abuse and addiction. And although there are no specific medications available for treating a dependence of cannabis, in some instances medical professionals can prescribe mild sedatives that can help the addict overcome the anxiety or panic attacks common during recovery.

Typically, group and one-on-one counseling takes the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches the addict how to identify and correct problems that have led to their cannabis addiction; contingency management support, which is based on monitoring target behaviors and offering positive reinforcement when those behaviors are achieved; and motivational enhancement therapy, a form of intervention intended to produce quick internal change in the addict in order to engage in drug addiction treatment.

As with any drug dependency, the support of friends and family is crucial to helping the addict overcome their crisis and achieve long-lasting recovery. And that support, combined with a comprehensive drug detoxification and counseling program, can make a huge difference in achieving the goal of a life free of cannabis addiction.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center in Northern California

Are you in need of a Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center in Northern California? At Beacon House, we provide the highest quality treatment for those struggling with cannabis abuse. Moreover, we offer numerous therapies for our clients, such as:

In Family Therapy, we’ll work with your loved ones to ensure they understand the difficulties you are facing. In addition, we’ll teach them about their role in your recovery.

Contact Beacon House Today

Is your marijuana abuse getting out of control? If so, reach out to our Rehab Admissions staff today at 831.372.4366. The Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center at Beacon House is ready to guide you away from abuse and into lifelong recovery.