With the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana, the number of individuals addicted to the drug is on the rise. One in three people who uses cannabis will become addicted, and that number is seven times higher in those who started as children or adolescents.
The thought isn’t original to us, but it’s a fundamental truth about marijuana: Not everyone who uses marijuana will become addicted. But nearly everyone struggling with substance abuse – heroin, cocaine, opioids – started with marijuana.
And now the conversation about marijuana (or pot, or cannabis, or weed, or whatever) becomes more complex and more convoluted and more confusing, now that it’s legal for recreational use in some states and for medical use in many more.
Our concerns, from a treatment and recovery perspective?
That legalization somehow sends the message that marijuana use is safe.
The perception that purchasing and using marijuana from a store eliminates risk or potential for harm.
That people who have addictive tendencies and predispositions – even if they aren’t aware of them – now have far more ready access to this gateway drug.
Some things just seem together. If someone’s smoking a joint, there’s a good chance they’re drinking, too, and placing themselves doubly at risk.
Heroin is killing people. Fentanyl is killing people. Prescription opioid addiction is killing people. We’re concerned that, by comparison, marijuana misuse is no longer viewed as much of a threat.
The marijuana MO
THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, mimics a naturally occurring brain chemical called anandamide, a neurotransmitter. Because they’re so similar, the brain recognizes THC and allows it to attach to receptors. Then the THC goes to work – disrupting memory, thinking, concentration, coordination, time perception, spatial awareness and pleasure.
How it’s done
You smoke it, either in a joint or a bong or a blunt. You can brew it into tea and drink it, or mix it into food. You can vape it, which is more and more common.
But isn’t pot… fun?
Some people report absolutely no effect from smoking pot. Others experience a pleasant sense of wellbeing or even euphoria, along with feelings of deep relaxation. Colors might seem brighter. Time slows down, or speeds up. Everything seems hilarious. There aren’t enough Doritos in the world. Everybody’s your friend.
But it isn’t always happy and pretty, especially with the far more powerful strains of pot available either in stores or on the street. Modern agricultural practices have resulted in marijuana strains with a far higher concentration of THC. An experiment with marijuana could also end with one or more of these outcomes:
Acute psychosis, which can include delusions and hallucinations
Severe anxiety, panic, and paranoia
Distrust of others
Coordination problems, making driving especially dangerous
Short-term memory loss
Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
Inability to get or maintain an erection
Reduced inhibitions, which may lead to unprotected sex, becoming the victim of sexual abuse or rape, or committing sexual abuse or rape
Marijuana addiction is for real
Current research suggests that 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some level of marijuana use disorder. When someone’s addicted and can’t get their pot, they get irritable, can’t sleep, lose their appetite, and start to crave it.
Tolerance: Your body has become used to the drug, and you need something more to feel the same effects. For marijuana users, the next step usually isn’t smoking more pot… it’s doing stronger drugs.
Dependance: Your body has to have it, and you go into withdrawal if you can’t have it.
Addiction: You spend more and more of your time, energy and money getting your pot. Doesn’t matter how messed up it makes you, or how many people you hurt. This your new normal. But we desperately want to help you see that there’s nothing normal about it… and that if you’re addicted, we can help you break free.
If you’re addicted, your marijuana use has changed your brain chemistry enough that there’s not enough willpower in the world to resist the cravings. It’s a disease, and it needs to be treated.
Smoking pot is just a symptom
For lots of people, substance abuse began as a means to cope with some problem, pain or situation. Drinking is no different. What made you feel so awful that you started smoking pot in the first place? At Desert Rose, we invest a lot of time and love into helping you heal from those hurts.
Are you scared
We understand. We love you, and we don’t want you to feel that way. Let us walk beside you.
We’re here. Call us right now at (844) 866-8815 , and we’ll tell you what you can do right now – before you lose the nerve – to begin to rebuild your life.
We feel passionate that all you need to do when you arrive at Desert Rose is to start getting better. That’s why everything is already in place for you to walk in the door and begin your recovery.