Last updated: 02/20/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Whether legal or illegal, compared to other drugs, marijuana is the most widely used drug in the United States. Marijuana exists as one of the few drugs that has “questionable” addiction potential. Ultimately, it’s up to the user to decide whether his or her life has suffered a considerable decline from ongoing marijuana use.
That being so, overcoming marijuana addiction may not be as easy as it looks. Marijuana has real effects on brain function that eventually impact a person’s ability to function in everyday life.
While inpatient treatment may seem unnecessary, some form of treatment help is warranted. Outpatient treatment programs equip recovering addicts with needed supports and tools for overcoming marijuana addiction.
When ingested, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana binds to specific brain cell receptors sites known as cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors work within the brain’s endocannabinoid system. This system acts as a communication network that regulates a wide range of bodily functions, some of which include:
- Sensory and time perceptions
Normally, the brain’s own chemicals or endogenous cannabinoids regulate these processes based on ongoing sensory inputs. Marijuana intercepts these functions, causing unusually high levels of endogenous cannabinoids to occupy the brain. This process accounts for the “high” users experience when ingesting the drug.
Over time, these effects start to impair normal brain functions leaving users depending on the effects of the drug to function normally. The first step towards overcoming marijuana addiction requires users to stop drug use altogether. Overcoming marijuana addiction involves a process of allowing the brain to repair and rebuild damaged structures while developing needed coping behaviors for living a drug-free life.
Outpatient Treatment Care
Outpatient treatment care offers many of the same services as inpatient programs without having to reside at a treatment facility for the duration of the program. Overcoming marijuana addiction through outpatient care entails:
- Learning to identify the people, places and things that trigger drug cravings
- Replacing drug-using and drug-seeking behaviors with healthy lifestyle choices
- Identifying situations likely to cause relapse
- Learning strategies for redirecting thoughts and behaviors when the urge to use is strong
Depending on a person’s daily schedule, treatment sessions can be set up to work around work and family responsibilities. Most programs also encourage family participation, as family support can go a long way towards helping recovering addicts with overcoming marijuana addiction.
Psychological, behavioral and social rehabilitation are the overall goals to keep in mind when overcoming marijuana addiction. The severity of a person’s addiction will ultimately determine the level of treatment needed to stop using and maintain abstinence.
Outpatient programs enable recovering addicts to maintain a certain degree of continuity in their everyday life while dealing with whatever issues are driving the need to escape through marijuana’s effects. While some people can succeed in overcoming marijuana addiction through outpatient rehab, it’s especially important to ensure a person’s treatment needs are being met in the process.