Marijuana began to feature heavily in the headlines starting in 2012 when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational usage. Recreational marijuana must be sold by licensed dispensaries to adults ages 21 and older. It can be sold in the form of smokable “flower”, edibles, topicals, and concentrates. Legalization also brought the subject of marijuana withdrawal to the forefront. But, despite recent legalization and decriminalization throughout the country, this drug can be addictive and produce symptoms of marijuana withdrawal if abused.
As of April 2021, 18 states plus Washington, DC and Guam have legalized recreational marijuana. These states are:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- South Dakota
Approximately two-thirds of states have legalized medical marijuana. Some of the medical conditions it is used to treat include glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
The Highs and Lows of Marijuana Usage
Using marijuana typically results in a variety of effects. People report feeling relaxed, joyful, and a reduction in anxiety. Their appetites often increase, and they experience increased senses of taste, sight, and hearing. Many people utilize marijuana as a way to escape stress and insulate themselves from the difficulties of life.
Marijuana usage also can come with negative consequences. Many people find their coordination is negatively affected. Simple tasks may feel complex, and the ability to do things like drive a car becomes dangerous. Some people find that they have difficulty thinking clearly and problem-solving. Some find their memory affected and a false sense of time passage occurs.
Red, bloodshot eyes are common when a person has been smoking marijuana. After the effects have worn off, many people become quite sleepy. For some, a feeling of anxiety accompanies marijuana usage. They may feel symptoms of paranoia, including being distrustful or suspicious of certain people and situations.
Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal
While marijuana usage has gone on for generations, the change in pot policy over the past decade has brought the subject to the forefront. Many people believe that marijuana usage comes with mostly neutral side effects, but for many, it develops into an addiction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that research indicates 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. That number increases to 1 in 6 for those who begin using it before age 18. The CDC cites studies that indicate that marijuana affects parts of the brain that are responsible for learning, decision making, memory, coordination, and reaction time. Those with still-developing brains, such as children and teenagers, prove particularly susceptible to these negative side effects.
Those who only smoke pot occasionally don’t always find themselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Those who use marijuana habitually often find it difficult to stop. Some common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stomach aches
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty focusing
- Changes in mood
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling anxious or panicky
- Cravings for marijuana
Why People Experience Marijuana Withdrawal
Similar to withdrawal symptoms in other substances, including alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, the root cause has to do with tolerance. An individual who builds a habit of using marijuana creates a reliance on the THC in their brain. When they stop their intake, whether because they are trying to quit using it or because they are unable to procure it, the marijuana withdrawal symptoms set in.
People often find that the side effects make their life feel unmanageable. The physical symptoms combined with the psychological ones can impact a person to a great degree. Often a person will work quickly to return to using in order to alleviate their marijuana withdrawal symptoms.
What to Do if Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Are a Concern
Those who want to stop using marijuana sometimes wonder how best to go about accomplishing it. Short-term, casual users often find they can get through the withdrawal symptoms on their own. When the symptoms show up mostly as psychological, such as mood swings and irritability, waiting them out can do the trick.
For those who have developed an addiction to marijuana, accessing professional help may be the best choice. A good place to start comes with talking to their doctor. Discussing the length of time they have used marijuana, in what amounts, and how they experience it can help a doctor and patient formulate a plan for treatment.
Many professional programs offer treatment for substance use disorder, which includes marijuana addiction. These facilities offer different options that range from detoxification plans to outpatient options to residential treatment. What each approach has in common centers on the ability to help manage withdrawal symptoms.
Skilled clinicians help patients understand the source of their cravings for marijuana. They offer supervision and any assistance needed while a person passes through the stages of withdrawal. These experts also help patients determine a path forward that does not include a desire to begin using marijuana or other substances again.
Addiction Treatment in Arizona
People who struggle with an addiction to marijuana often need professional help. Continuum Recovery Center offers a well-rounded approach to recovering from substance use disorders. We treat the person as a whole, including withdrawal symptoms they experience, and help them plan for a future without using drugs or alcohol. Contact us to discuss which of our programs is right for you and get started on recovery today.