Table of Contents
• Why Weed?
• Hidden Dangers
• Why it does not work?
• Reduced Effectiveness
• Negative health effects
• A Better Way
Most people attempting to achieve sobriety might do all sorts of unusual things to beat back their cravings and addictions. Often time they come up with one opinion of the other. They might swear that cinnamon toothpaste helps to block the craving for alcohol, for example, or they might insist that doing handstands at least once per day can redirect blood flow in such a way that a need for cocaine disappears. These opinions might seem strange, but often, a family chooses to turn a blind eye. After all, if these habits keep people sober, what's the harm, right?
Unfortunately, some people choose to dabble in the use of marijuana to keep themselves away from other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.
The recovery community has widely denounced this so-called “marijuana maintenance” program as an ineffective or even harmful strategy. Still, even so, most people may insist that their weed use isn't a problem at all.
Breaking through that denial about marijuana maintenance might mean holding an intervention and discussing those dangers in detail.
Most contemporary marijuana addicts may claim that marijuana is a familiar substance that's been a part of life for decades. For example, a study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology suggests that people tend to initiate the use of marijuana at age 18, which is about two years earlier than the age at which they begin to use other drugs like cocaine, buprenorphine and so on. Studies like this seem to suggest that marijuana is just a part of life for some people, and they might be reluctant to give the drug intake. Only as they use coffee to wake up in the morning might they use marijuana at night to relax or focus during the day. This kind of familiarity can make people feel as though the drug is benign, and they might not even consider their ongoing use problematic. They've always done it, and they might think they will still need to take them.
Besides, marijuana isn't always associated with dramatic withdrawal symptoms that people can feel acutely. For example, a study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology suggests that people who attempt to stop using marijuana experience symptoms like:
There are many reasons people give themselves to try marijuana maintenance rather than being abstinent from drugs. These include:
• Marijuana is not that addictive, in their opinion.
• Marijuana reduces anxiety and stress related to quitting addictive substances.
• Marijuana's effects will satisfy cravings for other drugs/addictions.
• Marijuana's effects will significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms.
• Marijuana is part of a comforting routine for most addicts.
• It's too hard to give up two drugs at once, so they usually opt for marijuana.
◦ Some are true, and some are probably not, but marijuana is considered addictive. However, it may not technically be “physically” addictive in how many other drugs are. Marijuana can also reduce stress and help with specific withdrawal symptoms, but different, nonaddictive, and non-intoxicating medications can do the same.
One of the biggest reasons for attempts at marijuana maintenance is that the addicted individual has already been using marijuana in addition to another drug for a long time, often before starting the more dangerous and addictive drugs/substances. Marijuana use tends to start young, with one in three high school students in one study reporting having used the drug in the past year. They may feel a significant attachment to the effects of marijuana. They will not want to give it up while they're already dealing with recovery from another addiction or drug abuse.
While replacing one addiction with another might be dangerous enough, some attributes of marijuana, we should look out for making it even more alarming in terms of recovery. For example, a study in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior suggests that the abuse of marijuana is related to a sense of motivation and focus. People who use it are somewhat sedated and calm, so they're less likely to handle tasks required for work. They might also be less inclined to handle tasks associated with addiction recovery, like:
• Going to meetings
• Working with a sponsor
• Attending therapy sessions
• Doing therapy homework
The motivational syndrome marijuana use brings about In users can recover from any substance, including marijuana, almost impossible. Those who lean on marijuana to help with other drugs problems may find that they end up with psychosis as a parting gift, making a recovery more difficult.
Similarly, marijuana has been known to trigger episodes of psychosis in vulnerable people. A study in Current Psychiatry suggests that marijuana alone can't bring about a chronic disease like schizophrenia. Still, it could bring about changes in concert with genetic malformations in some people.
Marijuana has also been associated with numerous health problems, including breathing problems and heart difficulties. In some cases, marijuana can trigger conditions that cause pain, and that might make relapse to drug use yet more likely, as people look for ways to soothe their discomfort.
Alcohol Creeps in through a Crack in the Door
In terms of opening the door to addiction, I believe that marijuana maintenance does allow enough situational flexibility to justify alcohol use.
To outsiders and people new to recovery, it can seem like the addiction is primarily a matter of willpower. Still, anyone involved in recovery programs like alcohol addiction knows a habit more than the lack of self-control. Addiction has more power than one can control with conscious thought.
When you begin to make little concessions or allowances, when you let your rigid rules become flexible a bit, when you weaken your resolve with exceptions — you've opened the door to addiction. An addiction only needs the tiniest of cracks to sneak back into your mind and start to chip away at your recovery.
That's what happened with most people in the marijuana maintenance program. A little use led to a bit more help, which eventually led to regular daily use. Once one justified this behaviour in his/her mind, it is only a quick trip down the block to the liquor store.
Why It Does Not Work
Recovery specialists and individuals in recovery have widely rejected the marijuana maintenance idea as ineffective and potentially harmful to the recovery process for addicts. Marijuana is associated with specific effects that can make addiction treatment more difficult rather than easier practically.
Incredibly, this drug has been ascertained to hurt motivation for many people. The reason is fundamental in addiction recovery. Not only do recovering individuals need to be motivated to stay away from the drug they are addicted to, but they also need the motivation to get to go for support group meetings, attend addiction therapies, call sponsors when they need to and do any other work required by their treatment programs.
At the same time, marijuana intake can make specific withdrawal symptoms or underlying mental health issues worse for some people, which is one side effect.
Reduced Effectiveness During Treatment
Evidence also suggests that marijuana use can interfere with efforts to stop using alcohol. In 2015, one study found that concurrent marijuana use lowers a person's odds of achieving abstinence from other drugs or heavy alcohol use.
Negative Health Effects
There are several propositions or concerns associated with Marijuana Maintenance. Some said it's a mere practice that aims at replacing one habit with another under the guise that marijuana is the less-harmful alternative but to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this may not be the case. Some of these concerns are :
Marijuana might contribute to underlying mental health conditions common in people who misuse alcohol and the likes.
Theoretically, Marijuana maintenance could lead people with addictive behaviours to use other dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. However, it might have the potential of acting as a gateway for addicts.
Marijuana usage has been associated with bone density loss, reduction of exercise tolerance, impairment of memory and cognitive skills, and an increased risk of lung conditions, to have a long-term impact on a person's health or health condition.
A Better Way
Real recovery from addiction means more than often perceived; it means more than merely replacing one substance with another. Recovery might mean more than replacing a drug with an action. Recovery means developing a sophisticated suite of tools and ideas people can use to deal with the ups and downs and challenges of life. Rather than pushing off dysfunction onto another drug, people need to learn how to handle life without any substance at all. That's the kind of transformation rehab can bring about and most preferred.
But motivating someone who thinks marijuana is helping can be difficult.
Sometimes a family needs to do a little digging to uncover the consequences the person has already seen. That way, those problems can be amplified in an intervention, which might prompt the person to change gradually.
Preparing for this talk can be challenging, particularly when the person feels that marijuana use is reasonable and harmful. Thankfully, families don't have to go through this preparation alone. They can hire an expert, known as an interventionist, to help plan the conversation and bring about a change. These experts can even assist families with failed interventions who still want to bring about a change. Some interventionists stay involved with families like this for months, and the help they bring can make things different. Please call us to find out more about the interventionists in your area who can help you deal with marijuana maintenance
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.