There are a lot of teenagers who think, “Compared to cocaine, heroin, or other hard drugs, marijuana is safe. After all, you can’t get addicted to it.”
Obviously, many of these same teens use this as an excuse to smoke pot. Whether or not marijuana is addictive is largely beside the point. The truth is, pot can be harmful to adolescents who use it regularly – and just as hard on those who want to kick the habit.
Am I Addicted? Or Just Dependent?
First, it is important to distinguish between the terms addiction and dependence. People become dependent on a drug when their bodies start to experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Addiction occurs when users are so dependent on a drug that they are unable to quit using it despite its deleterious effects on their lives and well-being.
So is pot addictive? Here is what the National Institute on Drug Abuse has to say about the subject:
“Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases… Marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.”
Does It Even Matter?
As you can see, the line between marijuana dependence and marijuana addiction is often blurry and tough to identify. In most cases, the point is moot because the users who are wrestling with that question are all dealing with some form of negative consequences.
Think of it like this: if you have been badly burned in a fire, it does not matter much to you whether you have suffered second-degree burns or third-degree burns. Either way, you are still in a lot of pain and you need medical assistance to help you heal.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
More specifically, teen marijuana users who are either dependent or addicted are both susceptible to withdrawal symptoms if they try to give up pot. A study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in 2014 indicated that about two out of every five marijuana-dependent individuals reported symptoms of withdrawal.
Some of the physical symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- Stomach pain
Other indications that you might be suffering from marijuana withdrawal are:
- Inability to sleep at night
- Daytime tiredness
- Low appetite
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Concentration problems
What is Detox?
The most straightforward way to overcome a dependence on marijuana is to detox – which is stopping the use of marijuana and weathering the subsequent withdrawal symptoms until the body no longer “needs” the drug. Though research has identified some medications that can aid in reducing withdrawal, there are not any FDA-approved treatments available for that purpose.
People who have gone through detox for marijuana dependence have discovered a few tips to relieve some of the distress caused by withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Drinking lots of water to flush out the toxins from your body
- Abstaining from fatty foods and caffeine and maintaining a healthier diet
- Taking hot baths to facilitate the sweating process that can help flush toxins out
- Exercising (even if you do not feel like it) to burn away fat where the toxins are stored
- Taking vitamin B3 or niacin supplements to boost your metabolism and burn more fat
Do Not Go Through Withdrawal Alone
There is no rigid timeline for detoxing to get rid of withdrawal symptoms; it can take a few days or stretch out through several weeks. Even after the physical symptoms disappear, teens still might have to deal with depression, irritability, or other issues for a while.
One approach that can help simplify the detox process is to enroll in a formal detox program at a teen drug treatment center. Not only will this allow teens to go through detox under the observation of trained professionals, but they will also benefit from nonmedical techniques like cognitive therapy, group support programs, and other activities that can help them remain sober.
If your teen is at the point where you are not sure whether they are dependent on or addicted to marijuana, it’s important to start taking the necessary steps to detox from weed, and get outside help if they need it.
Looking for a safe place to detox for your teen struggling with marijuana addiction? Contact us today to learn more about our detox and residential rehab programs.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.