Tag Archives: cannabis

What You Learned In Addiction Treatment

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On January 1, 2018, the State of California begins a new chapter regarding marijuana. The drug is legal to use for adults over the age of 21 after the holiday season comes to an end. The change in legality may not seem like a big deal, after all, a medical marijuana program has been in place for two decades. California became the first state to allow doctors to recommend cannabis for specific health conditions in 1996. However, broad legalization for recreational purposes could create problems for some people, especially those in recovery.

Cannabis use laws in California are of particular interest to us at PACE Recovery Center—with our specialty being addiction treatment. We are aware that young adult males are a demographic long associated with high marijuana use. Legalization could have the unintended effect of encouraging people in recovery to think that a little “pot” use is harmless. People without a history of cannabis misuse may convince themselves that the drug will not be a sobriety breach.

It’s entirely vital that those in recovery from any form of addiction understand the inherent dangers of using marijuana. Just because your drug of choice (DOC) is alcohol, doesn’t mean that cannabis is fair game. Many an alcoholic has experienced a full-blown relapse because they thought of a little weed smoke as harmless. It’s not just people with alcohol use disorders, either; hard drug users often scoff at the addictive nature of weed. True, fewer people reach the depths of despair from cannabis use, compared to other “harder” drugs. Nevertheless, such realities don’t imply the drug is safe.

Recovery Work Going Up In Smoke

Smoking pot is a sure way for people in recovery to find themselves returning to their DOC. If you’re regularly attending 12 Steps meetings, then there is good chance you have heard where cannabis use leads. It doesn’t matter which substance precipitated requiring addiction treatment; no mind-altering drug is safe. Addiction is a severe mental health disorder, and substance use is merely a symptom of the overall condition. Introducing any euphoria-producing drug to your body can cause severe problems in your life, and jeopardize your recovery program.

Whether you have 30 days or 30 years sober, you’ve have invested much into turning your life around. Using marijuana will cause all your hard work in recovery to go up in smoke. Legality shouldn’t impact your decision to partake in cannabis use; mental health pays no mind to the laws of man. Case in point: despite alcohol’s legality, the substance is highly addictive and takes more lives than any other vice. In spite of marijuana's benign nature, use can lead to dependence, addiction, and other health problems.

People in recovery who decide to use THC (Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol) products are at even higher risk of experiencing problems. More times than not, recovering addicts and alcoholics return to their drug of choice after using cannabis. It may not happen right away, but smoking weed will cause the minds of people with use disorders to crave their DOC. Usually, it’s a question of when, not if, regarding a return to more dangerous mind-altering chemicals.

Ask Around

If you’re still relatively new to recovery or fresh out of addiction treatment, we hope you grasp what’s at stake. Getting to where you are today required tremendous courage and even more effort, breaking the cycle of addiction wasn’t an accident. If you are living in California, some of your peers may be excited about the “green tide” coming into port. If they are not in recovery, using marijuana is their prerogative; if they’re in the program, keep your distance.

People in recovery contemplating using the drug come January should consult others with more recovery time, first. Chances are, such people will share relapse horror stories that began with something innocuous like cannabis, like cases when a little bit of pot resulted in a drug of choice relapse. Your older peers may tell you of former members who never made it back to the program after using marijuana.

Please remind yourself of what you learned while in addiction treatment. For starters, yours is an incurable disease! Without continued spiritual maintenance and steadfast dedication to total abstinence, everything you’ve tirelessly worked for could disappear. While relapse is a part of many people’s story, there are no guarantees of making it back to the rooms. Anything you can do to protect your recovery’s survival, the better; avoiding marijuana falls on the list of such things.

Cannabis Addiction Treatment

Again, young adult males use marijuana more than any other demographic. As a result, such people often find themselves in the grip of cannabis use disorder and require assistance. If your life is unmanageable due to marijuana use, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in the treating young adult males with substance use disorders. Our experienced team can help you break the cycle of addiction and self-defeating behavior. Life in recovery is possible; we can give you the tools to make it a reality.

Voluntary Addiction Treatment for Cannabis

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We find ourselves in a brave new world with marijuana. A good thing in several ways, especially regarding the impact the drug has on people’s lives. Specifically, fewer people are being sent to jail due to cannabis possession. This is a good thing, considering that our jails and prisons have long been filled with nonviolent drug offenders. needlessly serving unjust lengths of time because of draconian drug policy. To be certain, nobody who’s caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana should have to spend time in a cell. And in recent years, those charged with possession have been offered addiction treatment as an alternative.

Although, as more and more states embrace decriminalization and full, adult legalization—the need for such referrals is diminishing. Adults can now smoke “weed” legally in Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Undoubtedly, more states will hop on board the marijuana legalization train in the coming years. Medical marijuana started as a trickle with California becoming the first state to launch a program. Now, a mere twenty years later, 29 states and D.C. have medical cannabis programs.

As you can probably imagine, those working in the field of addiction treatment have some concerns about marijuana in America. Our stance is certainly in favor of decriminalization, because no one should have to serve time for drug use. But, we must be leery about marijuana addiction, and elevated rates resulting from legalization. If you are like many Americans, there is a good chance that you believe marijuana is benign. Meaning, that it has a small likelihood of causing serious bodily harm. And for the most part you are right, at least when compared to other mind-altering substances. However, and we must be clear on this, marijuana can be habit-forming and cannabis addiction is a real thing.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Pop culture has helped create certain stereotypes about “pot” use. You have probably seen movies that paint a harmless-looking picture of marijuana addicts. Perhaps you have seen the movie Half Baked (1998)? If so, then you saw actor Bob Saget berate Dave Chappelle for being addicted to weed. For those who haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t matter. The point is that in the realm of addiction, marijuana dependency is often viewed as being less legitimate. Believe it or not, there exists a kind of reverse hierarchy among addicts and alcoholics. Somebody with an opioid use disorder may look down upon a person seeking help for marijuana.

That being said, how others view your addiction is irrelevant. What matters is how it affects your life. No one should delude themselves into thinking that because marijuana is now legal—it’s harmless—because the exact opposite is true. Thousands of Americans seek addiction treatment for marijuana every year. Chronic cannabis use can have a negative impact on your cognitive abilities and there is a risk of dependence. People who find themselves dependent on marijuana do experience withdrawal symptoms during cessation.

Regarding cognitive deficits arising from cannabis use, teenagers and young adults are at particular risk. As an addiction treatment facility specializing in helping young adult males, we should join the narrative about marijuana. Young people need to have all the facts about pot. Thinking the drug does not carry risks just because it is now legal in your state is erroneous. Please remember, alcohol is legal and there is no shortage of suffering alcoholics in America.

Voluntary Treatment for Cannabis

Over the past few years, the number of people court ordered to addiction treatment for cannabis possession has declined. The byproduct of legalization. It must be noted that people court-ordered to treatment are not necessarily addicts. Being caught by the law doesn’t dictate having a substance use disorder. On the other hand, those who choose to go to treatment voluntarily probably have an issue worth considering. Evidence suggests that the number of people seeking addiction treatment voluntarily for cannabis use disorder is on the rise, The Washington Post reports. Evident by the overall number of people being treated for marijuana remaining stable, despite a 40 percent drop in court mandated treatment since 2011.

More people are using marijuana than ever in this country. It stands to reason that more young people will try and use the drug due to misconceptions about danger. The likelihood of greater numbers of people voluntarily seeking help is good. In Europe, the Netherlands has long had a light stance on the drug. Is it a coincidence that the Dutch also have the highest rate of seeking marijuana treatment in Europe?

If America is to blaze a different path than the Dutch, we need to be conscientious of the message being spread. Deterring young people from trying the drug will go a long way. Not by fear of punishment, but by giving them the facts. Marijuana is not benign, it can harm you. Dependence happens fairly often, and with it—addiction. If the drug is negatively impacting your life, please contact PACE Recovery Center today.

Legalization: Placing Age Limits On Marijuana


More than half of the 50 United States have voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization, and nearly a fifth of all states have legalized the drug for recreational use. Since marijuana policy reform in America seems to be heading one way, it is vital that lawmakers heed the wisdom of researchers when it comes to drafting such policies. It is ever important that quality standards and age restrictions pay mind to experts in the field.

For the most part, those charged with rolling out recreational use in states like Colorado and Washington have deferred to scientists and experts. The fact that one must be 21+ years of age to buy and use the drug was not decided at random, and it was not meant to be an affront to ebullient 18-year-olds itching to exercise their new-found sense of freedom. The age restriction in states with legal “weed” was set in deference to brain science, and the fact that the human brain continues to develop into the mid-20s.

Given there is ample research showing that the marijuana can have a serious impact on cognitive function, affecting memory and intelligence quotient, the further along one goes in life before having tried marijuana — the better. On top of that, studies have also shown that marijuana use, beginning at a young age, can increase one’s risk of abuse and dependence of not only cannabis, but other substances, down the road. While marijuana may register low on the Richter scale of dangerous drugs for adults, there is really no way of predicting what kind of damage it may do to a developing brain.

Cannabis in America, Legalization and Beyond

Last November, you may have been one of the majority of Californians who voted in favor of legalization. Adults over the age of 21 in California can use, possess and even cultivate the plant in their own home. The retail aspect of Proposition 64 isn't expected to take effect until sometime next year, which will give officials time to work out the minutiae.

What’s more, efforts are likely to be underway to ensure that the right messages are being sent to young people about the drug. Specifically, that while cannabis is now legal for people over the age of 21, that doesn't mean that it is safe for everyone to use.

With more states expected to adopt a more lenient position about marijuana, continued research is of the utmost importance. At the end of the day, experts know far less than they don’t know, the byproduct of over 80 years of prohibition hindering effective research on the substance. As our neighbors to the North prepare to announce next month Canada’s plan to legalize marijuana from British Columbia to Newfoundland effective July 1, 2018, age restrictions are a hot button topic, according to a press release from Concordia University. The Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommends that cannabis use be restricted to those who are at least 18 years in age. While the restriction is 3-years below what U.S. states have set, CBC reports that provinces would be allowed to set a higher age limit.

Research Supports 21

A new study published in the journal Health, examined the results of three national surveys on tobacco, alcohol and drug use (two in Canada and one in America), showed that those who refrain from using marijuana until the age of 21 are unlikely to develop a lifelong habit, the press release reports. Study coauthor James McIntosh, professor of economics in the Faculty of Arts and Science, said that earlier in life one starts using marijuana, the more negative the physical and mental effects will be. McIntosh and his co-author Rawan Hassunah’s study was novel in how closely is examined the age of first marijuana use. They found that early cannabis initiation and use can lead to cognitive impairment, including:

  • Memory Loss
  • Diminished IQ
  • Reduced Educational Success
  • Greater Risk of Mental Illness

Despite the findings of the study, McIntosh believes that the pros of legalizing outweigh the cons. He points out that Canada’s move towards legalization puts the country in a distinct position to start seriously researching the effects of the drug on every age group:

We need to start collecting data on it to see what the effects are on people of all ages. You can get all kinds of information on drinking behaviours -- they should do that with marijuana."

Cannabis Addiction

The use of cannabis, while considered to be a benign practice by those with a history of addiction or not, can actually wreak havoc on one’s life. As was listed above, the impacts of heavy cannabis use, starting at an early age can make your life unmanageable. Attempts to cease use often results in withdrawal symptoms which are typically mitigated by continued use of the drug. It is not uncommon for marijuana addicts to seek help by way of an addiction treatment center. If you are a young adult, male whose life has been significantly impacted by cannabis use, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Cannabis Use: A New Report

cannabisIf you live in one of the several states which have adopted legislation for medical marijuana, legalized cannabis or both, there is a good chance that you have heard several claims about the drug. While some of what you have heard was likely supported by research, the majority of claims heard about the drug were probably not grounded in science—or what could be considered credible research.

The reality is, there is more that scientists don’t know about the drug, than they do know. And what researchers think they know “now,” is often proved inaccurate by further research. Dizzying, right? This is likely the result of under researching the drug during this country’s lengthy prohibition. Decades of understanding what would have been potentially gained, were lost by 80 years of federal prohibition. Now, with state voters taking a more tolerant approach to the drug, researchers are racing to play catch-up.

It is widely agreed, when it comes to illicit drug use, marijuana is probably the safest comparably. But is it important that we differentiate between “safer” and “safe.” Just because a drug is let say, not likely to lead to an overdose, does not mean that it lacks the potential of negatively impacting your life. It is not uncommon for regular “pot” users to report problems with memory or that they have trouble functioning in certain settings.

Heavy marijuana users are susceptible to withdrawal-type symptoms during sustained abstinence. Those who become dependent on the drug are likely to continue use to avoid such discomfort. If what you have just read sounds like addiction, that is because that is precisely what it is—cannabis use disorder. Of course, marijuana addiction is an extreme example of where regular use can lead. The majority of pot smokers, whose use can be typified as being casual, will probably not find themselves in the grips of addiction down the road. That does not mean that there are no other risks to be aware of, findings that could influence one’s choice to use.

Cannabis Research: Making Sense of the Noise

In recent years, there has been much research conducted on both the potential health benefits and health penalties of cannabis use. Both advocates and opponents of the drug will introduce the findings of such research as if it were 100 percent accurate, when it is often not. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, if the confidence in such research didn’t sway voters; who, in the end, may find they have voted against their best interest.

Making sense of it all so that we can produce informed decisions about the drug can be nerve-racking, to say the least. To make sense of the noise in deciding which research to put stock in, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) sought to shine some light on the subject. The organization analyzed more than 10,700 study abstracts published in peer-reviewed journals since 1999. The conclusion of which, supports what was written above, researchers know little about the effects of marijuana use.

After looking at research, ranging from studies on marijuana's hand in mental health development, treatment of chronic pain and the drug's effect on the lungs—there was little that could be backed by substantial scientific evidence. NASEM writes:

This is a pivotal time in the world of cannabis policy and research. Shifting public sentiment, conflicting and impeded scientific research, and legislative battles have fueled the debate about what, if any, harms or benefits can be attributed to the use of cannabis or its derivatives. This report provides a broad set of evidence-based research conclusions on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids and puts forth recommendations to help advance the research field and better inform public health decisions.”

The report on the review of the abstracts indicated:

  • Twelve of the conclusions are supported by conclusive or substantial evidence.
  • Twenty-five are supported by moderate evidence.
  • Twenty-seven are supported by limited evidence.
  • Another 27 conclusions no or insufficient evidence.

Problem Cannabis Use

As for substance abuse, or problem cannabis use as it is often called, there is science that users should be aware. The was substantial evidence that cannabis use at an earlier age, being male and smoking cigarettes are risk factors for the development of problem cannabis use. There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between increases in cannabis use frequency and the progression to developing problem cannabis use. There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or substance abuse disorder for substances including:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Other Illicit Drugs

Moving forward…

A review of research abstracts often resets the starting line for new research. This type of review is a much needed resource for scientists, as they set parameters for new studies. It is also a useful resource for addiction experts in the field of medicine and clinical therapy. NBC Nightly News’ Harry Smith presented a good overview of this study, you can see it here.

If you or a loved one are seeking treatment for marijuana addiction please reach out to our California drug abuse rehab today.

Cannabis Use: Mental Health Consequences

cannabisIn November, a number of states are likely to vote on legalizing adult cannabis use or medical marijuana programs. California is one of the states that many believe will vote in favor of legalization, two decades after it became the first state to pass medical marijuana legislation. With each year that passes, Americans seem to be more in favor of ending the 80 year prohibition that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders being sent to jail or prison. While it can be difficult to compare marijuana to the other illegal drugs, it is important that we have all the facts before decisions are made. Last week, Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), came out against legalization. The “drug czar’s” stance comes from concerns over heightened marijuana use rates among teenagers and young adults, and that cannabis can serve as a “gateway” to harder drugs. His views are in line with the President, who has arguably had the lightest stance on the drug, compared to former commander-in-chiefs. While Botticelli, who is in recovery for addiction himself, has a valid point, there are a number of people in the field of medicine who are in favor of ending the prohibition. This week, the formation of the organization Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) was announced, the group of physicians is calling on states and the federal government to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis in the interest of public health. The group includes a former surgeon general and faculty members from some of the nation's most prestigious medical schools. The DFCR argues that legalizing and regulating marijuana is most effective way to:
  • Ensure Public Safety
  • Combat the Illicit Drug Trade
  • Mitigate the Negative Consequences Affecting Disadvantaged Communities
Both the ONDCP and DFCR make good arguments that may impact how people vote this November. However, we can also look to science for guidance on the subject. Decades of prohibition prevented scientists and health experts from conducting cannabis research. There is a lot that is unknown about the drug, such as its effect on the brain. In recent years, medical marijuana and legalization efforts have given researchers the ability to conduct long overdue research. These findings can be an invaluable resource for those considering how they will vote in the 11th hour of 2016. A group of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia raise awareness about the potential consequences of cannabis use, primarily with regard to mental health, The Guardian reports. They say that the evidence is clear, that marijuana can cause psychosis in the vulnerable. To be clear the scientists are not claiming that those who use the drug are at risk of psychosis, rather that those who are vulnerable to psychosis could jump start the illness by using marijuana. “Cannabis alone is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause psychosis.” Research published in Biological Psychiatry indicates that deterring heavy use could prevent 8-24% of psychosis cases.
It is important to educate the public about this now,” said Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Kids who start using drugs in their teen years may never know their full potential. This is also true in relation to the risk for psychosis. The risk is significantly higher for people who begin using marijuana during adolescence. And unfortunately at this point, most people don’t know their genetic risk for psychosis or addiction.”
The use of marijuana can become an addiction, negatively impacting one’s life. If you are addicted to marijuana, please contact PACE Recovery Center for help. Our drug abuse treatment program specializes in developing individualized treatment plans to meet the unique needs of all our clients.

High-Potency Marijuana and Psychosis

high-potency-marijuanaNew research suggests the use of high-potency marijuana may be linked to an increased risk of psychosis, Medical News Today reports. The study was conducted by researchers at the institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London in the UK. Dr. Marta Di Forti and her team observed the effects of high-potency marijuana use among 780 individuals aged 18-65. Between 2005 and 2011, 410 participants reported a first episode of psychosis, according to the article. Psychosis occurs when people experience hallucinations or delusions, often happening in conjunction with particular mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. The research suggests, according to Dr. Di Forti, that the risk of psychosis among marijuana users is dependent on different factors, like frequency of use and drug potency - factors which should be considered by physicians. "When a GP or psychiatrist asks if a patient uses cannabis it's not helpful; it's like asking whether someone drinks," says Dr. Di Forti. "As with alcohol, the relevant questions are how often and what type of cannabis. This gives more information about whether the user is at risk of mental health problems; awareness needs to increase for this to happen." It was determined that around 24% of psychosis cases could be avoided if people were to stop using this high-potency cannabis, the article reports. Although, since the study was conducted over a long period of time, the researchers say they did not have data on how much marijuana was used each day, which could present problems. "However, because we collected information about use over a period of years and not about present use, the reliability of such detailed information would probably have been confounded by recall bias to a greater extent than was the general description of pattern of use that we obtained," the researchers add. The findings were published in The Lancet Psychiatry.