Marijuana treatment usually consists of referral to a comprehensive treatment program for substance abuse because there aren’t that many marijuana-specific treatment programs available. Most substance abuse programs are adaptable to any kind of drug abuse, be it alcohol, heroin or marijuana so the treatment generally follows the same pattern.
Most marijuana treatment will involve a detoxification process in the beginning that patients and treatment professionals all refer to as detox. This is a standard first step for any type of drug or alcohol dependency. Though some people believe marijuana isn’t an addictive drug that can cause the same problems as other illicit drugs, it is indeed addictive and can greatly affect a person’s health, well-being, mental state and quality of life.
Because the chemical THC found in marijuana does alter the brain, the addiction can be a chemical one requiring detox. During detox, a person goes without the drug and experiences withdrawal symptoms that can range from very mild to severe. When in marijuana treatment, the symptoms of withdrawal would be treated and monitored carefully until they’ve passed, which usually takes from 3 to 7 days.
Without detoxification, a person suffering from any kind of drug addiction including marijuana addiction cannot benefit from the rest of the treatment. If the brain and body are not free of the effects of the drug on the brain and the symptoms of withdrawal of the drug, the remainder of the treatment can’t be effective. During marijuana treatment, a person still under the effects of marijuana will see the treatment with the distorted perceptions that marijuana use causes. Memory and thinking are affected, as well as motivation and general concern about themselves and others, so the remaining marijuana treatment would be ineffective at best.
After detoxification, marijuana treatment focuses on educating the patient about the dangers of marijuana. The short-term effects it has on the person’s brain and body would be stressed, particularly the greatly increased risk of heart attack within the first two hours of smoking marijuana—something that many people who view marijuana as quite harmless either aren’t aware of or choose to ignore.
The long-term effects of marijuana would also be presented, like the increased risk of many cancers thanks to the higher level of cancer-causing agents in marijuana smoke than are present in cigarettes. The marijuana smoker typically inhales more deeply than a cigarette smoker and holds the smoke in their lungs for a much longer period of time in order to get high. These factors contribute to the much higher rates of cancer among long-term marijuana smokers.
Beyond education, marijuana treatment would also focus on preventing a relapse. The short- and long-term dangers aside, many marijuana addicts might start smoking the drug again unless they’re taught techniques to deal with whatever negative feelings and emotions prompted them to start using the drug in the first place. Additionally, if a dual diagnosis is made, marijuana treatment would also involve treatment for any present mental disorders that could have caused, or been caused by, the addiction.