Marijuana is now known to be a therapeutic drug, helpful in managing a wide variety of afflictions, from insomnia to cancer. It has also become legalized for recreational use in some states. A progressive attitude toward marijuana may have some positive benefits, but it should not foster complacency around the use of this controlled substance.
When should one seek help concerning the usage of marijuana or other cannabinoids? Here are some signs that could indicate marijuana use has become a cause for concern.
1. A dramatically increased tolerance
With any substance used with regularity, your body becomes accustomed to the effects. When tolerance increases to the point that you need to consume a great deal more to accomplish the same desired effect, it's time to decrease usage, or abstain from the substance for some time. In medicine, we call this a “drug holiday,” to reset your body’s tolerance. This technique is used with a variety of other addictive therapeutic substances, such as the stimulants used in ADHD treatment.
2. It becomes the first response mechanism for dealing with stress.
If you seek marijuana when confronted with a problem or difficult situation as a means of coping with the stress, this is a sign of addiction. While marijuana may often actually be prescribed for anxiety, it should not function as a complete substitute for other coping mechanisms or lifestyle solutions that offer a more stable long-term solution.
Marijuana may be successful as part of a multi-pronged plan, but should be coupled with other treatments such as behavioral therapy that will eventually substitute for it. Marijuana should never be prescribed as a stand-alone treatment for anxiety.
3. Withdrawal is uncomfortable and difficult.
If you have attempted to decrease usage of marijuana, and suffered side effects such as stomach upset, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and paranoia, you may be addicted to marijuana.
Typically, any drug will cause physical dependence after a significant amount of time using it. Withdrawal is the normal response of your body to slowing down usage. If it is time to slow down, getting the right help can ensure that you do it as painlessly, efficiently, and successfully as possible.
4. There is continued usage despite social, financial, and personal burdens.
If you or a loved one is using marijuana and it's affecting your performance at work, or if you're neglecting your personal appearance or social schedule in order to spend more time using marijuana, you very likely have an addiction problem.
5. There is denial about how much or how often marijuana plays a role in life.
If a friend or family member refuses to acknowledge their increasing usage of marijuana or its detrimental effect on their life as observed by others, it may be time to encourage them to seek help. Confrontation may be met with aggression, which is a typical response in this stage.
6. There's a lack of control around the amount of time or money spent on marijuana usage.
If you find that the amount of marijuana you use or the time you spend using marijuana is often more than you predicted, or it seems like time flies when you're under the influence, usage has likely gotten beyond your control.
Often, many people are unaware of the increasing amount of consumption until it gets out of control. If you're a regular user, try and keep track of your prescription amounts and monitor the amount used to facilitate early detection of a problem.
If you or a loved one needs help, there are many resources available, and often just a phone call away.
Marijuana Anonymous can be reached at 800-766-6779 or at www.marijuana-anonymous.org and is just one of the many available resources.