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Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and perhaps the most controversial. In the past few years, several states such as Colorado, California and Maine, among others, have legalized marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes.

However, the relaxing views on marijuana use in the United States may only apply to medical or casual use – marijuana use disorder is a very real addiction that plagues roughly 30% of those who use marijuana. The distinction between casual marijuana use and marijuana addiction remains in the drug’s ability to interfere with regular functioning. If and when it becomes an impediment to a person’s quality of life, then it can be classified as addiction — and that’s when drug rehab centers in Utah comes into play. 

With marijuana use growing in legality and acceptance, what is the role for marijuana rehab and drug rehab in Utah? For more, see Marijuana Rehab Needs Continue to Grow

Marijuana Addiction or Marijuana Dependence?

But even if not a full-blown addiction, many people suffer from marijuana dependence, or the inability to feel normal without getting high. Studies suggest that 9% of marijuana users will develop dependence, with a higher rate of 17% of marijuana users who started using the drug in their teenage years developing dependence.

In fact, despite liberalized views on marijuana use and increased acceptance of its use for medical or recreational use by state law, research shows that chronic pot use can have damaging effects on the brain in terms of creating this dependent effect.

Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence — in which a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Frequent users report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness and physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to two weeks. Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug, requiring more and more to create the desired euphoric effect,” Shamard Charles, M.D., a writer for NBC News explains.

All this said, addiction and dependence can be physically uncomfortable and cause interference in life and functioning.

But there are positive signs that marijuana rehab treatment with a three-pronged approach to helping the individual detach from marijuana is successful. Unlike other drug rehabilitation treatment programs, marijuana treatment is focused primarily on psychological treatment. While addiction to drugs such as opioids and alcohol can cause serious physical withdrawal symptoms, addiction and dependence on marijuana effects the pleasure centers of the brain, leading to more psychological withdrawal requiring primarily therapeutic treatment.

Different Types of Marijuana Addiction Treatments

The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests the following three behavioral treatments are promising and often successful:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A form of psychotherapy that teaches people strategies to identify and correct problematic behaviors in order to enhance self-control, stop drug use, and address a range of other problems that often co-occur with them.
  • Contingency management: A therapeutic management approach based on frequent monitoring of the target behavior and the provision (or removal) of tangible, positive rewards when the target behavior occurs (or does not).
  • Motivational enhancement therapy: A systematic form of intervention designed to produce rapid, internally motivated change; the therapy does not attempt to treat the person, but rather mobilize his or her own internal resources for change and engagement in treatment.

Marijuana use can be harmful to your quality of life depending on your level of functioning and level of use. If marijuana use has increased to a level of dependence or addiction, there is hope that behavioral treatments can restore a better quality of life.