Medical intervention is not generally required to help someone give up their use of marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) although some people may experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms when they discontinue use after a protracted period of heavy and regular consumption. The search for a single medication that proves effective specifically in the treatment of cannabis use disorder goes on.
The medical team will nevertheless still be on hand to monitor marijuana withdrawal symptoms, which often include headaches, nausea or cramps. Appetite may be adversely affected. Mood swings, irritability, cravings and sleep disturbance are not uncommon. Medications applied to alleviate such symptoms more generally may be offered. As tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, remains in the system for some time after last use, testing may be needed to confirm elimination.
Assessment for co-existing mental health problems or personality disorders is essential for marijuana addiction treatment as such conditions are often found to predate, be compounded by, or directly result from chronic heavy use of cannabis, especially in younger people. Close psychological support is needed from the outset of treatment, something which a high-end drug rehab like Clinic Les Alpes is able to provide around the clock.
Health education about marijuana addiction, as well as specifically in relation to cannabis use, will form an important part of the treatment. There is often a lingering tendency to cling to beliefs that downplay the potential risks of the substance, people need to know that using medical marijuana can quickly turn into drug abuse. The person will also need to be alerted to the potential for substituting other mood-altering substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines to deal with the feelings that emerge during and following marijuana withdrawal.
Non-addictive alternatives for marijuana use disorder will be identified and trialed, such as relaxation techniques, spa treatments, exercise and creative pursuits. As the route of administration is often smoke inhalation, it will be a good time to assess cigarette smoking and offer the opportunity to quit.
It will be important for the person to discover and test non-addictive ways of regulating emotion, dealing with stress or seeking emotional reward. The person will receive help to acquire new ways of building confidence and self-esteem, as well as learning how to relax and be sociable without resorting to marijuana or other substance abuse. The involvement of families and the exploration of the person’s approach to relationship will be called for. Avoidance of genuine relationships may be an issue.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Contingency Management (CM) may all prove helpful in battling marijuana addiction. CBT will help the person examine thought and behaviour patterns that are negatively reinforcing and identify ways to exit and replace self-defeating approaches to life.
Apathy is often associated with marijuana use which is why MET may also be chosen to support the person in achieving their treatment goal. CM helps the individual by rewarding any form of progress made. The reward, which doesn’t have to be substantial, can be determined by the person in consultation with the therapist or peer support group.
All of these therapeutic approaches may be drawn upon as adjuncts to a marijuana addiction treatment whose basis is engagement with the abstinence-based 12-Step programme.