How to Deal with Marijuana Addiction
It’s likely you are familiar with the dangers and prevalence of ice and other hard narcotics in Australia. By comparison, you may think of marijuana (aka cannabis) as non-addictive and harmless but a number of studies have indicated the use of cannabis in Australia is growing, and using it poses significant risks.
Marijuana use is prevalent – and addictive
Although cannabis is illegal in Australia, it’s widely used. Studies show 750,000 Australians smoke cannabis every week, and about 70% of people between the ages of 20 and 29 have tried it.
These statistics are alarming given marijuana’s addictive properties. Moreover, because it’s a common misconception that marijuana isn’t addictive, users are less likely to seek help when they find themselves addicted.
Effects of marijuana addiction
Research shows that more than 200,000 Australians struggle with cannabis addiction every day. The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre says addiction impacts people physically and mentally; those who rely on the drug are at higher risk of short-term memory impairment, mental health problems and respiratory disease.
As with other addictions, cannabis addiction can also lead to employment problems, financial stress and family conflict. A marijuana habit can cost as much as $800 a month. That’s generally much less than the financial impact of an ice addiction, but still a significant hit to family finances.
Detoxing from marijuana
Many people use marijuana without becoming dependent but some marijuana users are finding themselves surprised at how difficult it is to give the drug up. Those addicted experience anxiety and suffer from mood swings, cravings, sleep difficulties and a reduced appetite when they try to stop using marijuana.
Users trying to detox say their biggest challenge during withdrawal is insomnia. For some, the sleeplessness lasts a few nights; for others, it goes on for months. Other symptoms include depression and loss of concentration. During detox, users also frequently experience nightmares. That’s likely because marijuana can inhibit dreaming, and when users stop using the drug, the dreams return even more strongly.
Those addicted also report experiencing mood swings, ranging from depression, to anger, to euphoria when trying to give up the drug.
The good news is that normal sleep patterns and a normal range of emotions return within three months of stopping marijuana use.
Physical symptoms during cannabis detoxification include headaches – particularly in the first few days. Night sweats can contribute to the problem of insomnia. Detoxification often triggers eating problems – loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea and cramps.
How to relieve the discomfort of detox:
- Soak in a hot bath.
- Drink plenty of liquids, particularly water and fruit juices.
- Eat bland foods to address problems with digestion.
- Reduce caffeine consumption to help with insomnia.
- Exercise – it will help with depression and mood swings, and support the body in healing more quickly.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing intense discomfort during detox, seek out a medical professional experienced with detoxing.
The benefits of quitting
If you are giving up marijuana, or have succeeded in giving it up, congratulations! Overcoming an addiction is never easy. Here are some of the positive results that people who give up cannabis experience:
- More clear-headed and more articulate, with improved memory.
- Increased energy.
- Breathe more easily.
- Need less sleep.
- Less worry because there’s no need to hide your addiction from friends, family and co-workers.
- Improved finances – not just because you aren’t buying marijuana, but because you become more productive with your time.
- Less anxious or depressed, and able to use more grounded approaches to cope with stress (rather than getting high).
- Less paranoia.
- A great deal more self-respect.
- Real happiness that isn’t the result of drug use.
For help and support in addressing cannabis addiction, seek counselling, individual or group therapy, support groups such as Marijuana Anonymous, or a professional rehabilitation support program like those on offer through Arrow Health.