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.