Marijuana Withdrawal Treatment
Marijuana is the most used illicit drug in the United States. Even though it is considered addictive, little is known about treating withdrawal use of marijuana. Most agencies use programs similar to Alcoholic Anonymous, other drug addictions, or cigarette withdrawal. According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, withdrawal from cigarette smoking and withdrawal from marijuana are similar. Patients are irritable, easily angered and sleep-deprived. All treatments include counseling and guidance. Identification Marijuana is a dry mix of flowers, stems, leaves and seeds from the cannabis sativa plant. The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Users roll and smoke marijuana as a cigarette or put it in a pipe. Some mix it in food or tea. The THC enters the blood stream and moves to the brain and organs. The result is a distorted perception of time, memory, concentration and the senses. Effects The drug continues to affect learning and memory even days or weeks after inhaling it. Long-term use shows changes in the brain similar to other drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Use. Long-term use can cause addiction. One day of withdrawal can lead to irritability, sleeplessness, stress and a craving for the drug. Types Treatment for withdrawal varies depending upon the agency and the user's addiction level. One important treatment is education about the lasting effects of the drug on the body. Agencies use self-help groups and relapse prevention groups, as well as outpatient counseling. Patients learn to replace the use of the drug with activities and exercise. Counselors emphasize the importance of coping skills along with prevention strategies. Learning to monitor stressful situations and avoiding relapse situations are part of many treatments. Considerations Marijuana Anonymous uses the basic twelve-step program started by Alcohol Anonymous. Addicts must admit they are powerless. They must take inventory of their lives. They must make amends to those they have abused or hurt. They learn that the struggle is daily and they must accept that their lives are unmanageable. Potential The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center planned studies using Escitalopram, an antidepressant, along with cognitive behavior therapy for the withdrawal treatment of marijuana. The studies were scheduled to start in December of 2007 with completion planned for the end of 2008. As of January 2008, they were still recruiting participants.