marijuana addiction

Treatment for Weed Addiction: Behavioral Techniques to Treat Marijuana Addiction

Weed (marijuana) is the most abused drug in America. This article examines the different behavioral treatments available for weed addiction.

Weed, also known as marijuana or cannabis, is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world. Smoking weed results in the perceptions and sensations being altered. Smoking weed can be very addictive and harmful. Exerting willpower is an admirable step one can take toward quitting marijuana use. However, it often takes more than that. There are no medications currently available to treat marijuana addiction. Still, behavioral treatments can be an effective alternative.

Treatment for Weed Addiction in Adolescents

In a study called Monitoring the Future (conducted by the University of Michigan), it was discovered that during the mid to late 1990s marijuana use increased significantly among adolescents. Thereafter, use among middle school and high school students decreased slightly. Nearly 50 percent of high school students admitted to using marijuana at least once and nearly 6 percent use it daily.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) was initially implemented for adult use; however, the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study later adapted it for adolescent use. In MET, with the assistance of an empathetic therapist, the patient feels as though she is understood. The MET therapist takes an assertive stance, reviewing the patient’s goals and behaviors, pinpointing any inconsistencies. The therapist uses this information to better motivate the patient into taking responsibility for her actions and changing them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was adapted in the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study. CBT focuses on the patient’s thinking patterns as the source of his addiction. In changing his negative thought processes, he exhibits positive thoughts and behaviors. He also learns the skills needed to avoid drug environments and to minimize his chances of a relapse.

Family-based Treatment for Weed Addiction

Since adolescents are at a stage where they are still closely tied with their families, the Family Support Network (FSN) was implemented solely for the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study. It is designed to improve family communication, parents’ behavioral management abilities and to increase their engagement to the recovery process.

Multidimensional family therapy (MFT) studies how the adolescent and her parents communicate with each other and the involvement of the school systems. It focuses on establishing a therapeutic connection among the members of the families and on enforcing activities to promote healthy changes in the adolescent, her family and social systems.

Adult Treatment for Weed Addiction

There are several treatments that have been developed and created for adults suffering from marijuana addiction. Among the most successful are cognitive behavioral, motivational enhancement, reward-based treatment and support groups. However, it is found that a combination of treatments is more effective than a single one.

Reward-based treatment involves using monetary vouchers to reward patients who have completed positive steps towards their treatment goal (e.g. refraining from drug use or attending sessions). The vouchers can be redeemed for goods or services, such as educational classes or recreational equipment.

Brief marijuana dependence counseling (BMDC) focuses on the social and psychological needs of the adult addicted to cannabis. By combining intervention, case management and cognitive behavioral skills, the patient can receive increased motivation, help for problems outside of his drug abuse, and the necessary skills to abstain from marijuana.

Twelve-step Program for Weed Addiction

An individual suffering from marijuana addiction can also benefit from a twelve-step program, such as Marijuana Anonymous. It offers an effective method of bonding with others similar to him, while helping him to triumph over his addiction.

By coupling a support system with behavioral techniques, overcoming marijuana addiction is possible.