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.
In this brief, but powerful How to Recover with Cocaine Addiction Treatment guide, you will have the knowledge to get clean once and for all.
If cocaine has entered the life of someone you know – or is affecting you directly – you may already be aware of the reason it’s casually known as a ‘hard’ drug. Once it has taken hold, it’s a hard habit to break. It becomes hard for the sufferer to lead any semblance of a normal life. And it can harden the hearts of family members, friends, and employers toward the user as this addiction rages its way through relationships, finances and personal lives, with often devastating consequences.
If you didn’t think it was possible to recover from cocaine addiction, think again: while cocaine is certainly a very powerful foe, with cocaine addiction treatment, the habit can be defeated. Recovery is possible. It begins with taking the first step: admitting that help is needed, and accepting that help. Sometimes a cocaine addict has to be badly battered by the drug before they will take this step. But once taken, the journey to recovery from cocaine addiction has already begun.
What kind of a drug is cocaine, and what are its effects?
When cocaine made a big splash in the collective consciousness in the 70s and early 80s, it was known as a ‘rich man’s drug’ and ‘not physically addictive’ because of its cost, rarity, and a lack of the strong physical withdrawal symptoms characterized by other hard drugs such as heroin. We have learned much about this designer drug since then, and unfortunately, it has claimed many lives and fortunes in the intervening decades. Here’s some of what we know about cocaine.
- Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca plant. In South America, native people used to chew the leaves of the coca plant for more energy while working in the fields.
- Cocaine can be snorted, injected or freebased (crack cocaine)
- Cocaine is highly addictive. With a rush lasting just two to five minutes, a user needs to use almost continuously in an attempt to maintain their high
- In experiments done on mice, cocaine was found to be so addictive that mice will repeatedly press the ‘cocaine button’ to get a hit, to the exclusion of food and water, until they die.
So what happens when cocaine is abused, as it has a high potential to be? There are serious side effects to this powerful stimulant. It causes the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to heart attacks. In fact, it’s an open secret that whenever a 20-or 30-something Hollywood actor or sports celebrity with no history of heart disease suddenly dies of cardiac arrest, cocaine was the likely culprit. Cocaine overdose can also lead to strokes, and habitual use can cause high blood pressure, weight loss, lung damage and kidney failure.
Despite its lack of ‘physical’ withdrawal symptoms (such as the vomiting and sweating associated with opiate withdrawal) cocaine withdrawal is very painful. That much is obvious – otherwise why would an addict do almost anything to get more, and keep using it even when the consequences are so negative? Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, severe depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, anger, mood swings and sleeplessness. It’s little wonder the relapse rate for cocaine is high.
Addicts can and do recover with cocaine addiction treatment
Recovery is possible. That’s great news for the person struggling with cocaine abuse who may feel hopeless. However, a certain mindset is generally necessary in order for cocaine 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, cocaine 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 cocaine. 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 cocaine, indeed may be terrified at the prospect, but one must be willing to put cocaine aside in order to give treatment a fair shot.
- A willingness to consider complete abstinence as a means to successful cocaine addiction treatment. Someone with a cocaine or crack problem may not believe they 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 cocaine addiction because alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can be considered gateway drugs to cocaine.
How cocaine addiction treatment works
There is no magic pill, quick fix or single technique to help someone recover from cocaine 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, cocaine addiction treatment consists of a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of cocaine addiction. It’s an approach that has helped thousands of people who once struggled with cocaine addiction, to achieve lasting recovery.
Treatment modalities for cocaine addiction include:
-Education into the nature of cocaine addiction and its physical, emotional, social and spiritual effects
-Cognitive behavioural therapy: Practicing techniques to change behaviour patterns that led you to reach for cocaine 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, cocaine 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 1-866-232-1212 or text 1-647-691-4146 to speak confidentially to one of our counsellors.
by Sunil Boodhai MSW (RSW), BEd.
I have chosen to work with children not because I believe I need to step into their lives and help them, but because their strength and resiliency is both boundless and awe-inspiring. I am in the enviable position to witness this strength and resilience as a therapist in the Children’s Program at Renascent. Children growing up in homes where addiction is present have no choice but to push their strength and resilience to the limit in order to cope and survive the challenges that come with fear, sadness, disappointment, neglect, and sometimes violence. Our concern in the Children’s Program is that a child’s resilience is used against them by the monster that is addiction. Instead of being used to create, build, and find joy, strength and resilience are used to find ways to survive, and survival becomes the norm. Survival takes the guise of perfectionism or acting out in negative ways; both serve to draw attention away from that addiction and over to the child, where attention is desperately needed. Our program’s primary purpose is to put a child’s focus back where it belongs. With the loving support of their families, children are reminded that their primary focus in life is to love, be loved, learn, and have fun.
It is my distinct privilege to see families transform as the make their way through our four-day Children’s Program, always hosted at the Wright Centre, our beautiful family treatment centre in the heart of downtown Toronto. Children nervously arrive with their parents at 9 a.m. on Thursday, not really knowing what to expect. That nervous energy is always transformed into joy and excitement by the end of their first day when children learn that addiction is a disease and they have bonded with other children who share a very similar experience. These children have usually been carrying addiction with them as a family secret and are relieved to find a place where they can speak openly with other people about this aspect of their lives. Children also learn about safe people in their lives with whom they can share their experiences and feeling (not everyone is safe), and about the 7C’s. The seven C’s state, “I did not cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it, but I can help take care of myself by communicating my feelings, making healthy choices, and celebrating myself.” In this manner, children are reminded of their role and responsibilities in relation to the presence of addiction in their lives. Children are relieved to learn that none of their actions have caused an adult to use a substance (though they are sometimes given that message by the adults in their lives), there is not anything they can do to control the substance use — such as acting out or being absolutely perfect at everything — and there is no cure for the disease. Children are given a great deal of hope when they find out that there is hope even if there is no cure. They learn about abstinence-based treatment and twelve step programs and they meet counsellors and other adults who have lived long periods of time free from substances. Children are also given hope for the future when they learn about making healthy choices, not only in relation to alcohol and other substances, but to fundamental lifestyle habits as well, such as food and sleep. They also practise and learn the benefits of communicating feelings, and how essential it is to not keep their feelings bottled up inside.
By the end of our Children’s Program at Renascent, children join their adult loved ones to work on a project together. This is where they begin to practice the skills they have learned while in the program, and are gently coached through complex emotional interactions in a safe manner. It is this safety that allows children to refocus their strengths and resiliencies again. I cannot state enough how glorious a thing it is to see children make their way through the amazing process of the Renascent Children’s Program.
Sunil is the manager of Family Programs at Renascent. His is currently the lead therapist in the Children’s Program and provides individual counselling sessions for addicts, family members, families, couples and children. Sunil did his undergraduate work and MSW at Ryerson University, as well as a Humanities degree and Bachelor of Education degree at York University. He has been working as an addictions counsellor for over 12 years.
by Jenifer Talley, PhD
In my practice, I work with many clients whose addiction may be construed as a maladaptive response to “discomfort of unknown origin.” A patient will tell me: “I’m not sure how to describe it. I was feeling something. And before I knew it I had picked up.” Using mindfulness can help such clients explore, define and overcome these painful feeling states so that alternative nonaddictive ways of responding can be employed.
eThe process of becoming non-judgmentally aware of the components of a compulsion weakens its power. That’s why increasing numbers of clinicians are eagerly incorporating mindfulness into the treatment of substance use disorders, eating disorders, sex addiction and other compulsive behaviours.
At the same time, however, you have a responsibility to be mindful of exactly how to present the practice to a client. What expectations and assumptions are we inadvertently expressing? What values and goals are we implicitly communicating? And how can we tailor this approach to meet the unique needs of each client? Such an inquiry differentiates the “mindfulness” of pop culture from the mindfulness that deeply improves the quality of a life. Through my clinical practice and my own meditation practice I have found that being very careful and painstaking is crucial to applying mindfulness to therapy.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, founding director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, defines mindfulness in his book Full Catastrophe Living as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” To me, the fundamental aspect of mindfulness is the capacity to witness your internal experience in the moment rather than instantly reacting to it. But how do you teach clients how to be “mindful”?
With substance users, I often introduce mindfulness before we have fully determined a treatment plan or goal (for example, abstinence or moderation). Mindfulness can provide both the client and me with valuable information about what is unfolding inside. This is another benefit of mindfulness: the cultivation of curiosity about how our thoughts, feelings and body convey important information. More “data” can help promote greater understanding and healthier decision-making.
One of the first things I do is teach a client to slow down and note the mental “chatter” or “noise” that typically occurs nearly continuously with little awareness. The content is often harsh, critical self-talk that triggers discomfort that, in turn, triggers the habitual, automatic response of substance use and other risky behaviours. Mindfulness can help clients become more aware of these patterns and develop the capacity to choose from a greater repertoire of responses.
I frequently work with clients who state that they consume more alcohol or other substances than intended. They are often unaware of the internal process leading up to this increased use. In addition, there may be feelings of shame, along with fears associated with being able to sustain long-term changes. Guiding attention back to the moment in order to catch these mental habits, including the tendency toward shame and doubt, as they occur is key.
Here is a case study (based on a composite of several clients) that exemplifies my application of mindfulness to individual therapy:
My client, Joan, tells me, “I don’t know what happened. I started feeling uncomfortable, and before I knew it, I had three glasses of wine and don’t remember what I said during the rest of the evening or how I got home. Now I’m even more embarrassed and worried that I said something stupid. This is hopeless.”
Initially I try to model mindfulness through guided retrospection. I tell her, “Let’s try to relive that night: what you were thinking, how you were speaking to yourself, how your body was feeling, what sensations you noticed, and what led to the decision to have another glass of wine.”
I use careful questioning to unravel the specific details. Joan recalls that entering the social situation, she automatically compared herself to others and assumed that she did not measure up in some way. This thought process was associated with subtle changes in her body, including chest tightening, shortness of breath, and tension in shoulders and neck, and finally a holistic mind/body reaction that “this is intolerable.” For this client, like many others, this wholesale aversive appraisal triggers the desire for relief along with powerful cravings for substance use. All too soon it is the morning after and my client finds herself hung over and ashamed.
In our mindfulness work together, we practice noting this entire habitual pattern, and we explore the assumption that the escape from the “intolerable” feeling is to have another drink. By now, Joan has become authentically curious about the ways in which wanting her thoughts and feelings to be other than they are in the moment can generate cravings for substances. While this practice is focused on remembering a specific moment in a risky situation, it helps prepares for future stressful moments.
Over time, we practice breathing exercises so that she can begin to notice her breathing during these moments. As she catches her breathing become harsh as her mind spin toward self-criticism, she can slow down her breathing in order to tap into a sense of stability and groundedness. From there, Joan can shift her focus to her senses and re-attend to the holistic experience of the stressful situation and take thoughtful action.
Ultimately, mindfulness drives at the root of compulsive behaviours by undermining the assumption that inner experience is intolerable and therefore requires immediate relief through substance use.
An often-overlooked aspect of utilizing mindfulness in mental health is the assumptions that clinicians bring to the practice. As long as a collaborative, fine-tuned approach evolves out of a moment-by-moment understanding of where the client is, I find that people at many different stages of ambivalence, substance use and recovery can benefit. Often, a therapist’s having prerequisites to practicing or specific goals is an obstacle. All you need is a curious, compassionate style of relating to experience.
Reprinted from The Fix with kind permission of the author. Dr. Jenifer Talley is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of trauma and co-occurring substance misuse. Working from an integrative harm reduction framework, Dr. Talley’s approach is interactive and focuses on the development of practical skills to manage intense emotions, reduce self-judgment, and promote self-compassion. Mindfulness skills are integrated into an active exploration of the interrelationship between thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviours, along with their contribution to substance misuse and relationship issues. She is the Assistant Director of New York City’s Center for Optimal Living, an addiction treatment centre based on principles of integrative harm reduction psychotherapy.
by Ana Sandoiu
Traditionally, alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse have been more commonly associated with men than women. But as more women drink alcohol, a new analysis finds they are catching up with men at an unprecedented rate. This also means women are affected by the same harmful effects of alcohol as men, and the new study highlights the need for women-specific information and educational campaigns in order to reduce the negative effects of alcohol consumption.
Historically, men have used alcohol anywhere between 2-12 times more than women, the analysis reports.
However, the new research revealed a steady decrease in the sex ratio of alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse, and related harms.
In the early 1900s, males were twice as likely to consume alcohol than females and almost four times more likely to develop an alcohol-related condition.
By contrast, in the late 1900s, the gender gap has nearly disappeared, with males only 1.1 times likelier to consume alcohol than females and just 1.2 times more likely to experience alcohol-related problems.
The closing gap is most obvious in the youngest adults, namely those born as recently as 1990 and aged between 15-25 years.
The analysis — published in the journal BMJ Open — examined studies that tracked alcohol patterns in participants born as early as 1891, ranging all the way to 2001. The research collected data between 1948-2014 and included more than 4 million people. Some of the studies considered spanned over 30 years or more.
Health risks of alcohol use
Alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for global disease, together with smoking, pollution, and high blood pressure.
In 2010, alcohol accounted for 5 percent of deaths worldwide and was the leading risk factor in Eastern Europe, Andean Latin America, and southern sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2012, alcohol accounted for 3.3 million deaths, which is 5.9 percent of the global number of deaths.
In the United States, alcohol is currently listed as the fourth preventable cause of death by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Traditional gender expectations and alcohol consumption
Some studies have pointed to the connection between gender expectations and alcohol consumption patterns. Social norms associate drinking with displays of masculinity, while traditionally defined femininity associates women with abstinence.
Because of sex-based social roles, we also tend to judge women more harshly for using alcohol or having an alcohol addiction.
Gender roles perceived in this traditional way might cause women’s drinking problems to be ignored or mishandled. In fact, a study reported that women often feel that the social stigma stands in the way of seeking and receiving treatment, and women were more likely to report stigmatization than men.
Women must be warned of alcohol risks
The analysis conducted by Slade and team questions traditional assumptions and urges relevant institutions to put women at the centre of new prevention and intervention programs:
“Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women, in particular, should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms.”
The study does not provide any explanations for why the gender gap is closing, but speculations include changes in traditionally female gender roles; the researchers point to a study that showed alcohol consumption rates were most similar between men and women in countries where male and female roles were most equal.
The men and women in the analysis were very young and early in their alcohol use, the authors warn. As a result, more studies will have to be carried out as the young males and females age into their 30s and 40s.
Reprinted from Medical News Today with kind permission of the author. To see more of Ana’s work, follow her at twitter.com/annasandoiu.