Marijuana is harmless. It is being used as medication in many parts of the United States, so it must be perfectly safe and have no significant long-term effects. Nobody gets hurt by using marijuana. The debate about marijuana, particularly in recent years as the medical marijuana practice has spread to new areas of the US, is a profound one. Regardless of whether you believe in the use of marijuana as a medicinal treatment, the use of illegal marijuana is just as dangerous and life-changing as the misuse of prescription painkillers or other, more illicit drugs. Marijuana is not harmless. Using it is not a victimless crime, and treatment is available. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 29 million people in the United States, including children as young as 12 years old, have admitted to abusing marijuana in the year 2009. For the past five years, the number of junior high and high school students in the US who use marijuana has continued to rise. Perhaps this has something to do with the increase in the legalizing of medical marijuana; at least that’s the theory of some experts at US Department of Justice and the DEA.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse
One of the first, and often misunderstood, aspects of marijuana abuse is that it is, in fact, addictive, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In a publication directed at parents of teens, the NIDA states that many individuals who choose to use marijuana find it difficult to stop, even if they want to, and even if the use of the drug is negatively affecting their lives. Another long-term effect of marijuana use has to do with the availability and use of other illicit drugs. About half of the 7 million people who abused illicit drugs in 2009 were also dependent on marijuana. Other long-term effects, according to US News, of marijuana use and abuse include:
- Memory loss
- Brain damage
- Learning disabilities
The health effects to the physical body can be severe as well, according to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, and include respiratory conditions similar to smoking cigarettes, such as bronchial infections and emphysema.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the Treatment of Marijuana Addiction
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments for the addiction of marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Originally developed for the treatment of alcoholism, CBT is now used for a wide variety of emotional, psychological and addictive conditions. The main focus of this type of therapy is to teach the recovering addict better ways to control themselves and their reactions to certain influences or stress levels. The term “cognitive” refers to how our brains think. By retraining how an individual thinks, it is then possible to help them determine better ways to behave in reaction to those thoughts. The therapist and the recovering addict will work together to create strategies for coping with very real and specific issues. It is important to note that one of the NIDA’s Thirteen Principles of Effective Treatment is the ability for a treatment program to be tailored, adjusted and maintained for the specific needs of the individual. There is no special or mass-produced answer to the disease of addiction. CBT gives each of the partners in the process – the therapist and the recovering addict – the ability to work in an atmosphere that is completely customizable. Deciding to recognize that you or someone you love may have a problem with marijuana can be overwhelming. Finding the help you need to overcome any addiction issue may seem like an uphill climb, but Futures of Palm Beach is available to help you reach the solutions you need. Call us today and let one of our trained and motivated professionals help you get the answers you need to find the life you want.