The major obstacle to marijuana treatment is the idea that marijuana is not addictive. The majority of people do not understand the increase in potency of marijuana and the high susceptibility of young people due to the maturing of the brain during the teen years.
In stages of change theory contemplation is the initial step in beginning the recovery process. For a person who has developed an addiction sorting the plethora of misinformation can be a major obstacle. The legitimacy of marijuana for medical use is not a justification for recreational use. A person addicted to marijuana must accept the medical and scientific truth about it’s impact and not be confused by the legal and political issues.
The second challenge in stages of change is preparation. Preparing for a life without your drug of choice can be a daunting idea. Knowing the facts about potential withdrawal symptoms can help in preparation medical cannabis. Symptoms: loss of appetite, inability to sleep, headache, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, even aggression. These symptoms can persist for several days or weeks depending the level of use prior to beginning recovery.
Recovery begins by building a network of supporters who understand the withdrawal symptoms and will work with the recovering person during the initial period of recovery. Attending a 12-step program and using a sponsor is the most secure support system.
Pick a quit date and meet with your supporters or NA sponsor and discuss their availability during your initial detox period. Let them know that you may need to call and discuss how you are feeling possibly during the night if you are having trouble sleeping. Their role is primarily to listen as you share your experience and spend time with you if necessary. Prepare yourself by adopting the one-day-at-a-time philospohy. Make up your mind as you begin each day that you will not use that day. Don’t think about a future without marijuana, this is a very strong negative thought possibly leading to relapse.
When your quit date arrives you enter the third phase of the stages of change. Begin your day with exercise and four 16 oz. bottles of water. Go to the gym or for a jog or long walk, the exercise and water will hasten the removal of marijuana from your system and initiate the release of endorphins giving you a natural lift of spirit. Call one of your supporters every couple of hours throughout the day. Repeat this process daily until the withdrawal symptoms have passed.
Maintaining your abstinence after the withdrawal period can be deceiving. You may not be having physical withdrawal symptoms but you will continue to have thoughts about using. An old adage from AA is sometimes helpful. HALT whenever you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and identify what you are feeling. These feelings if not identified properly might lead you to seek out marijuana rather than satisfying the appropriate desire.
Continue to call your support system or sponsor whenever you feel out-of-sorts or upset, allow them to help you discuss what your are feeling and discourage the tendency to return to your drug of choice. Avoiding old friends you smoked with and places you used is also helpful.
A short time after stopping you may feel old symptoms coming back of ADD or depression or anxiety that existed prior to your drug use. Don’t try to ‘deal with it’ alone. Seek professional help to get appropriate treatment for the condition. It is not unusual to discover that a preexisting condition was the thing that lead to your initial use of marijuana. A young man told me once “The first time I smoked marijuana was the first time I felt normal” he went on to become a hard core addict. Ask yourself, why didn’t I feel normal and address the issue.
Marijuana is much more potent today, don’t let the misconceptions of the past keep you stuck in a never ending cycle of addiction