Marijuana has a storied history in pop culture as a casual drug, a ‘soft’ drug, the one so socially acceptable even President Barack Obama admitted using it. If you’re reading this though, you may also know it as an addictive substance that can have serious life-changing consequences for those who use it and their loved ones. Partners, employers, friends, and family members often lose patience for the person who is unable to stop using, and have trouble understanding just how an addiction to marijuana can cause such a change in a person’s life. Whether you call it weed, pot, cannabis, marijuana, or any of the other names it’s had over the centuries, in this how-to guide, you will gain the knowledge you need to recover from your marijuana addiction once and for all.
Marijuana addiction is real, and recovery is possible. It begins with taking the first step: admitting that help is needed, and accepting that help.
What kind of a drug is marijuana, and what are its effects?
- Cannabis has been grown and used by humans since before 2000 B.C.
- Marijuana’s effects range from stimulant to depressant to hallucinogen, depending on the user and the various strains.
- Herbal cannabis is derived from the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the female Cannabis plant.
- Marijuana can be smoked or ingested.
- Studies vary on the addiction rates for marijuana, but dependence and addiction are known effects of long-term use.
- Cannabis use disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a condition requiring treatment.
So what are the side effects of marijuana use? To start, cognitive impairment on attention, short-term memory, and ability to complete psychomotor tasks — that’s what makes it so dangerous to drive while stoned.
Long-term marijuana use can lead to chronic cognitive deficits like memory loss and reduced IQ, and is associated with a risk of developing other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Physically, inhaling the carcinogenic marijuana smoke increases the risk of chronic bronchitis, lung disease, and cancer.
According to the DSM-5, the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana include:
- anger or aggression,
- nervousness or anxiety,
- sleep difficulty (ie, insomnia, disturbing dreams),
- decreased appetite or weight loss,
- depressed mood, and
- at least one of the following physical symptoms causing significant discomfort:
- abdominal pain,
- chills, or
Addicts can and do recover with marijuana addiction treatment.
Recovery is possible. That’s great news for the person struggling with marijuana addiction who may feel hopeless. However, a certain mindset is generally necessary in order for marijuana addiction treatment to work. Some of the things that are generally considered a helpful prerequisite for successful recovery include:
- Willingness to admit there is a problem. As with addiction to other drugs, marijuana addiction often leads to denial. Users shrink from confronting what is actually going on, the toll the drug is taking on their lives and relationships, and the severity of the problem; owning the wreckage can be overwhelming and is often best accomplished in an intervention-type setting with the help of concerned and supportive loved ones. Admitting the truth about the impact of the addiction is essential to seeking help and ultimately recovering.
- A sincere desire to stop using marijuana. A person must not merely pay lip service to the idea of getting clean and sober; it doesn’t work that way. Of course, he or she may not feel enthusiastic about having to give up cannabis, indeed may be terrified at the prospect, but one must be willing to put it aside in order to give treatment a fair shot.
- A willingness to consider complete abstinence as a means to successful addiction treatment. Someone with a marijuana problem may not believe they also have a problem with alcohol or any other drug, but generally speaking, those who are entirely abstinent have a much better chance of recovering from their addiction because other mind-altering drugs can act as gateway drugs to your substance of choice.
How marijuana addiction treatment works
There is no magic pill, quick fix, or single technique to help someone recover from addiction. You can change your life and recover from addiction, and be happier than you ever were before; it’s just a matter of doing the work. At Renascent, marijuana addiction treatment consists of a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of addiction. It’s an approach that has helped thousands of people who once struggled with addiction achieve lasting recovery.
Treatment modalities for addiction include:
- Education into the nature of addiction and its physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects
- Cognitive behavioural therapy: Practicing techniques to change behaviour patterns that led you to reach for a mind-altering substance in the first place
- 12-step facilitation therapy
- Additional therapies personalized to your individual needs and situation, including reality therapy, person-centred therapy, solution-focused therapy, mindfulness principles, and art therapy
Treatment is facilitated individually and in groups by our team of registered psychotherapists and certified drug and alcohol addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.
At Renascent, the atmosphere is that of a comfortable home, not a bleak institution. You will be surrounded by loving, caring, experienced staff and peers who, like yourselves, are on a journey of recovery. We have found this to be the best possible environment to support someone as they recover. The bottom line is, marijuana addiction doesn’t have to rule your life anymore. For more information about Renascent’s programs and to find out why we are your best choice for lasting recovery, please call our Access Centre, day or night, toll-free at 1-866-204-7864 or text 1-647-691-4146 to speak confidentially to one of our counsellors.
Are you looking for how to stop drinking alcohol tips?
Stopping drinking alcohol when you’re an alcoholic is the most important thing you can do to improve your quality of life.
What follows are tips on how to quit drinking based on the experience, strength and hope of others that have successfully started and continued their road to recovery.
Tips on How to Stop Drinking
For tips on how to stop drinking alcohol and become healthier, consider these simple guidelines:
1. Make an honest self-assessment.
Ask yourself, “Am I an alcoholic” and take our self-test. You can also take our “Do I have a problem” questionnaire. Depending on your answers and your level of honesty, you will get closer to finding out if it’s best for you to stop drinking.
2. Call an alcohol rehab treatment centre for a free and confidential consultation.
At Renascent, Toronto’s leading alcohol rehab, we have supportive people who have been where you are and have opened their lives up to the wonders of sobriety and recovery. We can help you move to the next step.
3. Attend an alcohol addiction treatment centre.
Attending treatment centres for alcoholism has been the foundation of many Renascent alumni that have been successful at stopping drinking. At inpatient alcohol treatment centers, people, like you, entering into recovery learn how to stop drinking through being introduced to the principles of 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
4. Continue your recovery with Alcoholics Anonymous & treatment centre alumni meetings.
When your stay at our alcohol addiction treatment is over, your recovery and growth is truly just beginning. A large proportion of Renascent alumni whom have quit drinking alcohol and stayed sober, did so by attending our alumni meetings and meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. We’ve seen ourselves grow through the continuation of take the 12 steps, living by the underlying principles, learning to love ourselves & being of loving service to others.
5. Know that life is happening for you.
It’s not happening to you. At the end of the day, when you turn your will and your life over to the care of God, as you understand Him, you give yourself the gift of being empowered to cope with any challenges life brings to you. With it, you grow to accept life on life’s terms.
In addition to these guidelines on quitting drinking, be sure to continue to ask for help, listen to the suggestions given to you and continuously act in a way that is aligned with your ideal, spiritual self.
It’s true that there isn’t a guarantee that you stop drinking and stay stopped, but if you’re Honest, Open and Willing to follow certain suggestions, you dramatically increase your chances of a happy and content life free from alcohol.
If you’re ready to take the next step in quitting drinking alcohol, call us toll-free at 1-866-232-1212 and talk to someone that has been there. All consultations are free and confidential.
by Ian S.
Eight years ago I was the manager of a bar in Toronto. One night I got off early with a co-worker and took a cab to an after-hours club. I did a hit of ecstasy, and went out for a cigarette. I argued to get back in the club and that’s the last I remember. I was beaten into a coma. My next memory was waking up a month later and thinking I was late for work. I had severe brain injury.
I was in a fog. I tried to return to work, but I couldn’t do it. I was fired and moved in with my brother. It was a rough time. My sister helped me to get disability benefits. Since the brain injury, I can only think about one thing at a time. I have to take things slower, step by step. Before my injury, everything was fast. You have to serve drinks quickly and think about more than one thing at a time. Now if I have to do something I need to plan it out and take it one step at a time. If I look at the whole picture at once, it’s too much to digest. Everything is one step at a time.
After I got fired I had nothing to do, and I drank and ate. I used to drink daily at work, but I was functioning. After the assault I occasionally worked for my brother, but every bit of money I made went to drink. Eventually, someone recommended a neuropsychiatrist. He suggested that I come to CHIRS (Community Head Injury Resource Services) for SUBI (Substance Use and Brain Injury). I was very reluctant, because I hadn’t liked group meetings in the past. The meetings were only six or seven people — not fifty or sixty like I had attended before my injury and failed. Before my injury, I went because my girlfriend had given me an ultimatum. I wasn’t going for myself.
I came to CHIRS and I enjoyed the group meetings. Luckily, the small group of people was made up of people I enjoyed. I had moved out of my brother’s place and got an apartment, but I was very lonely. Apart from helping with my addiction, it was a place to go where people were listening to me. I got busy with other things too. I took a course to learn about my brain injury. I started to do more than lying in bed and watching TV. I started a volunteer job with a group that helps autistic kids with horseback riding. Before I was always talking and thinking about myself. Now I actually had an opportunity to give back and it created a good feeling.
I started to realize that nothing good had ever come from drinking. All my relationships were gone. Some good friends too. I didn’t like what marijuana did for me either.
What helped the most was the instruction, the counsellors. A fellow called David was really good. He told me, “Sometimes the hardest thing to do is put our shoes on. Make your bed. One step at a time, never mind one day a time.” He was telling us that it’s important to starting your day fresh. It’s true, it starts with the little things.
Now I’m a crossing guard. I enjoy the freshness that the kids have. Their bright faces in the morning wears off on me a bit. A good way to start the day—with the kids. It energizes me. My life was repetitive. Kids are in awe of everything. It gives me hope to see how the kids see the world. You can never go back again, but it reminds me that you shouldn’t take things for granted – that every day is a new day with potential.
The AA meetings give me a whole new influx of people. The AA at CHIRS helped me to get started. Less than six months ago, I wouldn’t have said that. The idea of higher power was difficult for me. But it doesn’t have to be religion. I have been told that the meetings themselves can be the higher power, and I tend to believe that. I’m not religious. I enjoy the fellowship. A lot of them are quality people. It bridges the gap of loneliness. It’s good to have a conversation. You get the acceptance without judgement. In closed meetings in particular, you can speak a bit, and no one interrupts you and no one judges you. It’s an outlet. People listen and you leave feeling that a void has been filled.
Thinking about it, honesty is the higher power. I’m thankful to be alive.
I see people who are worse off than me I feel thankful. People are trying to be as positive as possible and the honesty is very refreshing. They open up to stranger. I have a brain injury, and figuring out how to live after that was a real problem. My recovery from substance abuse was really about learning to live again, after a brain injury and without drugs.
In the Twelve Steps, Step 2 reads “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The wording of the step is truly important to the individual struggling with addiction, particularly if he or she is feeling broken at the prospect of getting well.
By the time we have entered recovery, many of us have tried just about everything to stop or at least control our drinking and drugging. We’ve tried limiting the substance, changing substances, changing friends and environments, keeping busy, getting someone else to manage our finances, and made endless vows to just control ourselves. Yet nothing has worked for very long.
Strangely, even our most earnest attempts at recovery have often been solo; rarely have we trusted friends, family members or even therapists with what is really going on inside, and with what our habit really looks like. Seeking outside help has not been our forte.
Do You Need a Power Greater than Yourself? Take This Quiz
As soon as we hear ‘power greater than ourselves or ‘higher power’ some of us instantly get triggered. Here comes the God stuff, we think. Talk of a higher power can pose problems both to the atheist or agnostic non-believer and to the religious person for whom God hasn’t removed the addiction. Before anybody will be willing to believe in a power greater than themselves, it’s obvious that the need for such a power must be established. Do you need a higher power, or can you continue doing things your way? Ask yourself…
- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of your drug of choice, even while doing other activities?
- Did you start by drinking or using to relax and socialize, but found you continued even when drugs and alcohol turned on you?
- Have you already tried and failed to control or limit your using, or stop altogether?
- Is using and/or drinking the only way you know how to have ‘fun’ anymore?
- Do people who know you, like family, friends and coworkers, appear concerned about your behaviour or habits?
- Do you tell the truth about the extent of your alcohol/drug consumption and activities?
- Do you feel as though without your substance, you would not be able to cope with your life?
- Have you reached a point where you feel as though this has to stop?
If these questions resonate with you and you can answer Yes to more than two of them, you might be more willing to look at believing in the concept of some power that can help you get your life back under control.
Finding Hope at a Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centre
Drug and alcohol rehab may seem like a strange place to go looking for hope – after all, most people have hit a bottom (or several!) before seeking professional help. It seems like a hopeless place to be. But it’s often at treatment that we learn from experienced counselors about the underlying causes of our addictions, and how to move past the old limiting beliefs, unresolved issues and improper coping strategies into a new and better way of life. With our peers, we learn the tools necessary to overcome drug and alcohol dependency and take the path to a healthy, useful, happy life.
If you’re hoping against hope that things can be different…they can. Call Renascent and discover hope again, for a life that really works.