It may be legal to use marijuana medicinally, but patients and recreational users can still develop dependencies and substance use disorders. This fact is often obscured by pro-legalization advocates, but that doesn’t make this addiction any less difficult to overcome. We understand how marijuana dependence and addiction can hurt someone’s participation in their day-to-day life. The stigma against addiction, along with the fact that marijuana isn’t considered a “real” drug, may make it hard for someone to ask for help when they need it.
Our clinicians at Walden are here to provide recovery services without judgment. Because we understand the crossover between mental health issues and substance use disorders, we strive to make our environment safe and welcoming for all patients. A successful recovery is about physical, mental, and emotional healing. Walden’s holistic programs are guided by the latest science on substance use and mental health treatment.
Marijuana Addiction Is Real
The debate over marijuana use and legalization is often dominated by extreme viewpoints. In truth, neither side gives the whole store. Marijuana is not a wonder drug that can cure everything from nausea to cancer without causing any harm to patients. It’s also likely to serve as a “gateway drug” that leads users to try other substances. In truth, marijuana is commonly used yet responsible for fewer deaths than other drug types. However, 3 in 10 users may develop a use disorder.
Marijuana Intoxication and Dependence
Many marijuana users enjoy the drug because it helps them relax and brings an accompanying sense of extreme happiness. While intoxicated, users may also receive more sensory stimulation, lose their sense of time, and feel hungry. For others who use the drug medicinally, it acts as a pain reliever or muscle relaxant.
This wide range of effects can be traced back to how marijuana interacts with the human brain. Brains create many chemicals to ferry communications between neurons. We naturally create a type of molecules classified as endocannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, is close enough in structure that the brain recognizes it as a type of endocannabinoid.
Endocannabinoids communicate messages that affect memory, cognition, concentration, balance and coordination, sensory perception, and more. When users introduce cannabis into their systems, these molecules attach to the same receptors endocannabinoids typically use. Marijuana, therefore, can disrupt a variety of systems and cause a wide range of effects.
Frequent use can also condition the brain to expect high (endo)cannabinoid levels. In response, it will decrease its production of endocannabinoids and/or tell cannabinoid receptors to temper their response to the molecules. When a user who has reached this point decides to give up the drug, their brain will go from having too many cannabinoids to too few. This brings on withdrawal—the key sign of drug dependence.
When Dependence Progresses to a Use Disorder
Someone can be dependent on a drug without it disrupting their life. However, the discomfort of withdrawal may be a factor in escalating use that results in a substance use disorder. If you think someone you love is struggling with marijuana, ask these questions:
- Has the person tried to quit using marijuana, but failed?
- Does the person miss/cancel plans and activities with loved ones to use marijuana?
- Is marijuana use causing trouble in their home, work, or school life?
Anyone who answers “yes” to one or more of these questions may have a marijuana use disorder. Continued use could have a negative impact on their life and might increase their risk of future health issues.
How We Treat Marijuana Use Disorders
Walden offers a full-service recovery program, including
- Medically monitored detox
- Inpatient treatment
- Outpatient services
- Continued community support
As patients move through these stages, they receive personalized care and treatment. Our programs tackle substance use and mental health concerns at the same time. We tailor treatment plans by addressing the multifaceted causes of addiction to give patients a better chance at recovery.
- Decreased appetite
- Stomach pain and nausea
- Irritability and aggression
- Moodiness and anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
It’s natural to experience symptoms like these as the brain readjusts its endocannabinoid production and receptor sensitivity, but they are likely to cause extreme discomfort if untreated. Our 24/7 monitored detox can help curb symptoms and provide the emotional support patients need to stick with sobriety through a difficult withdrawal.
Inpatient Marijuana Addiction Treatment
Once a patient has been stabilized, clinicians work with them to create a personalized care plan. Our residential programming includes mental health treatment for any patients who need it, along with group programming that teaches life skills and coping mechanisms. Patients can attend individual and/or group therapy sessions to receive the support they need.
We also welcome families to our campus for weekly visits and educational sessions. Building a strong support network at home can be one of the most important factors in a successful recovery. We teach loved ones the best ways to assist patients both during and after their stay at Walden.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Outpatient Services
Some residents prefer to continue working with Walden after their stay comes to an end. Other patients aren’t able to attend residential treatment, whether due to the demands of work, school, or family life or because of the costs. Our PHP and outpatient programs allow the healing practices we teach at Walden to reach even more patients.
Outpatient participants can attend peer groups and individual appointments during the day or evening. They have access to our full suite of trauma-informed mental health care options. Through our community center, they’ll also be partnered with a peer support specialist for recovery coaching and be able to join sober parties and outings.
If you’re looking for help for a child or adolescent, The Cove offers specialized treatment for this age group. We offer support to youth who struggle with substance use or mental illness and those who are exposed to substance use through their families.
Once you receive treatment at Walden, you become a part of our community. Through the Beacon of Hope Recovery & Wellness Center, we invite you to stay connected with fellow patients and peer support specialists. Those in recovery and their family members are welcome to join support groups and participate in weekly activities lead by the center.
Healing and Hope Go Hand-In-Hand
Deciding to confront a substance use disorder and co-morbid mental illness takes courage and strength. At Walden, we welcome you no matter where you are in your life. Our caring team provides personalized attention and support to help you grow into the person you want to become.
If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana use, Walden is the first step toward a brighter future. Call our admissions team today at (301) 327-2555 to learn more about our programs and schedule an assessment.