Last updated: 08/5/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Those who truly become addicted to marijuana face many issues when it comes to finding help. But there are treatments that can help an individual who has been struggling with marijuana abuse and addiction. According to an NCBI study, “The prevalence of marijuana abuse and dependence disorders has been increasing among adults and adolescents in the United States.” This is why different types of help for marijuana addiction are necessary, as no one treatment is right for every individual.
Behavioral treatments are the best type of treatment available for individuals with marijuana addiction. This type of treatment can be found in doctor’s offices, drug counseling centers, inpatient and outpatient rehab centers, and other facilities. It is highly effective in every other type of drug addiction syndrome and especially beneficial with those for which there is no medication.
According to the NIDA, “Currently, no medications are indicated for the treatment of marijuana use disorder, but research is active in this area.” While many drug addiction syndromes are best treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication, the former is still the best option for marijuana addiction. There are several behavioral therapies that are especially effective for marijuana use disorders which are listed below.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to treat a host of substance use disorders including alcohol, meth, nicotine, cocaine, opioids, etc. Marijuana addiction can be treated with this method as well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, uses a patient’s desire to change as well as their feelings about their drug abuse to change their behavior toward marijuana. It is also incredibly effective with younger individuals, many of whom may need treatment for marijuana use disorders.
As stated by the NIDA, CBT’s “specific techniques include”
- Exploring the positive and negative consequences of continuing to abuse marijuana
- Learning the ability to recognize cravings
- Identifying situations that may cause a person to be triggered to abuse marijuana
- Developing strategies that will help individuals cope with cravings and triggers
- Learning how to avoid high-risk situations altogether
Some individuals benefit highly from attending group therapy, either in a drug rehab center or somewhere else. This process of allowing other individuals to discuss the patient’s progress with them and encourage their recovery can be extremely helpful when it comes to long-term abstinence.
Because those in group therapy have also dealt with the same issues, patients are often able to more freely discuss what they have been through. They also make friends and feel that they are less lonely in their experiences. Group therapy can be very helpful for someone who has been abusing marijuana.
Contingency management is another form of behavioral therapy that can be adapted for marijuana addicts. Sometimes, it is especially beneficial in the beginning of treatment in helping those who have been addicted to marijuana for a long time and, thus, need treatment that is particularly geared toward altering the changes marijuana made to the reward center of their brains.
The NIDA states, “Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of treatment approaches using contingency management (CM) principles, which involve giving patients tangible rewards to reinforce positive behaviors such as abstinence.” These rewards often include vouchers that can be exchanged for food, movie passes, and other things that are “consistent with a drug-free lifestyle.” Someone may start with contingency management and then move on to another marijuana addiction treatment or stay with CM treatment as long as it is still effective.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
This therapy attempts to help someone “mobilize their own internal resources for change and engagement in treatment” (NIDA 1). It can often be especially beneficial for older individuals who have been abusing marijuana for a long time and are determined to stop. Motivational enhancement therapy is “designed to produce rapid, internally motivated change.” This is wonderful for those who have that strong drive to change their behavior and to stop abusing marijuana.
Other Types of Help
While behavioral therapy is probably the most recommended type of help for marijuana addiction, there are other ways an individual can find support as they attempt to quit. Marijuana addiction is still a less researched issue than the addiction syndromes of other drugs, so it is important for individuals to know all their options and to attend only those which are most beneficial. If you start a treatment or program that is meant to help you with your marijuana addiction and do not feel that it is working, you can always try something else.
Support groups are one of the most used treatment options for addiction in the country. In fact, according to the NIAAA, mutual-help groups (a type of support group) are still more sought out for alcohol use disorders than any other type of treatment. There are support groups for marijuana addiction as well, and many of them meet all over the country.
Marijuana Anonymous (or MA) is one of the most common support groups for marijuana use disorders. There are also other groups that hold meetings in places like churches, community centers, outreach centers, and rehab facilities. Support groups allow marijuana addicts to discuss what they are going through with their peers while, usually, also receiving help from sponsors who are farther along in their recoveries.
For those who are still dependent on marijuana and abusing the drug every day, detox facilities can be beneficial and help them get through the difficult withdrawal syndrome. However, detox itself does not treat addiction to marijuana which is why many detox facilities will recommend patients to other treatment centers, doctors, or counselors who can continue that treatment after the patient gets sober.
Detox facilities can help by allowing patients to see what it’s like to live without marijuana again and then to aid them in finding further treatment. This can be incredibly beneficial, especially for someone who is still under the influence of daily, heavy marijuana abuse.
There are many different types of help for marijuana addiction and, as research continues, more will be created over time. Seek out the option that seems best to you and start your recovery from marijuana abuse today.