Although many believe that marijuana isn’t addictive, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that marijuana use can cause the development of problem use. This is known as a marijuana use disorder. According to data, an estimated 30 percent of individuals who use marijuana have a marijuana use disorder to some extent.
When an individual isn’t able to stop using marijuana, even when it interferes with his or her life, a marijuana use disorder becomes an addiction. Marijuana addiction happens when the brain gets accustomed to excessive amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which reduces the production of the body’s own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.
Marijuana addiction is often associated with withdrawal symptoms when an individual tries to quit. These could include difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor appetite, cravings, and physical discomfort. These symptoms typically peak within one week and last about two weeks after quitting.
In 2015, there were about 4 million individuals in the United States who met the criteria for having a marijuana addiction or a marijuana use disorder. Of these individuals, 138,000 sought addiction recovery treatment. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explained that the amount of THC in marijuana has increased over the past few decades. In the 1990s, the average THC content found in marijuana was 3.8 percent. It has increased to an average THC level of 12.2 percent as of 2014.
Marijuana and its Affect on the Brain
The active compound in marijuana is THC. If an individual smokes marijuana, the THC quickly passes from the lungs to the bloodstream. THC eventually makes its way to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which can influence memory, pleasure, concentration, time perception, and coordinated movement.
What are the Treatment Options for Marijuana Addiction?
There are certain behavioral treatments that have been promising for treating marijuana addiction that include:
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
This is a form of treatment that involves intervention that sparks an internal change through motivation. This treatment focuses on mobilizing an individual’s internal resources for change.
This is a therapeutic management approach for marijuana addiction. With this treatment, an individual will be monitored for a target behavior. When the target behavior is reached, he or she will be provided with positive rewards.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This treatment is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals learn coping techniques to deal with their addiction. In addition, this also teaches individuals to recognize and correct behaviors that will lead to sobriety and improve self-control.