Do People Need to Go to Rehab for Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana Addiciton TreatmentThe definition of addiction as it applies to marijuana has been hotly debated for decades. If one defines addiction in terms that the removal of a drug from the body causes physical symptoms, one may claim that there is no need for marijuana addiction treatment within the rehab setting. However, if one considers that there is more to addiction that the physical need of the body for a specific substance, the answer becomes less clear.

The Symptoms of Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a relapsing brain disease that manifests with the compulsive need to seek and use drugs, regardless of the harmful consequences that surround it. Marijuana use and abuse can meet this definition because:

  • Users tend to need more of the drug to obtain the euphoric effects as the body builds a tolerance.
  • Marijuana use is illegal, therefore causing the abuser to engage in risky activity simply by using it.
  • The use of marijuana causes impaired judgment which can lead to riskier behaviors.

Because of these factors, it is reasonable to treat addiction to marijuana as seriously as any other addiction. However, marijuana also brings with it the psychological addiction aspect that makes quitting incredibly difficult.

The Benefits of Rehab for Marijuana Addiction

When an addict chooses to seek help in a treatment facility or outpatient rehab, they gain several benefits. A marijuana addiction can often mask a lack of coping skills for the stress of everyday life, for instance. With the help of trained professionals who understand that the need for a drug to cope with stress is very real, the addict can learn better ways to handle the challenges they face.

In a study conducted by Dr. Alan Budney of the University of Arkansas, 90 adult men and women diagnosed with marijuana dependence were split into three groups. The first group received only cognitive therapy. A second group received vouchers for clean urine specimens, while a third group received both vouchers and therapy. At the end of the 14-week “rehab” period, the group that received only vouchers for negative drug tests results performed the least well. The group that received both therapy and vouchers received the best overall scores.

At the end of a 12-month review period, the numbers remained the same in terms of overall benefit. The group that received cognitive therapy and vouchers for retail goods and services had the highest success rate with 37 percent of participants still clean at the end of the year.

This study suggests that professional help including the type of therapy available at a good rehab facility greatly increases the chances that a person addicted to marijuana, whether it is a physical or psychological addiction, will remain sober.