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Cannabis Use Disorder: Statistics, Info, and Recovery

a therapy group discusses Cannabis Use Disorder

Marijuana use is often depicted in a light-hearted manner in the media, although a cannabis use disorder should not be taken lightly. Marijuana culture is promoted by the media and almost always showcased in a light, positive way. With most media focusing on the “fun aspects” of cannabis use, few people know the dangers. It’s possible to develop a marijuana addiction, otherwise known as a cannabis use disorder. This addiction can spiral out of control and take over one’s life.

If you or someone you love struggle to overcome addiction, Northpoint Seattle can help. We provide education and counseling to help you or your loved one overcome their addiction. Our cannabis abuse treatment program promotes recovery through understanding the effects of marijuana, developing strategies for coping with cravings, and managing triggers. Contact us online or call 888.483.6031 today to learn more.

Statistics About Cannabis Addiction and Abuse

While the addiction recovery industry spends a lot of time and money raising awareness for addiction, not many of those funds go towards cannabis use. Many people don’t realize the troubling statistics involved with cannabis use disorder. As a result, most are usually surprised to learn that this seemingly innocent drug can cause quite a bit of harm. Take a look at some of these statistics below.

  • Over 94 million Americans and counting have used cannabis at least once
  • Cannabis users are three times more likely to be at risk for death from hypertension
  • 6.7% of current marijuana users are 12- to 17-year-olds
  • 58% of users between ages 12 to 17 claim that weed is easy to obtain
  • Legal marijuana sales totaled over $6.7 billion in America in 2016
  • 242,200 emergency room visits in 2005 involved cannabis use
  • 40% of adult males arrested tested positive for marijuana
  • In fatal car accidents, marijuana is the second most commonly found substance in drivers
  • Marijuana abuse is increasing, as 2.1 million Americans abused marijuana in just 2007 alone

Popular Street Names for Cannabis

Cannabis is referred to by as many as 1,200 nicknames. It’s probably the only drug that has that many aliases. Popular street names include:

  • 420
  • Alfalfa
  • Asparagus
  • Aunt Mary
  • Blunt
  • Bud
  • Dank
  • Doobie
  • Grass
  • Green
  • Herb
  • Marijuana
  • Pot
  • Weed

The Addictiveness of Cannabis

Although cannabis use often appears harmless and fun, long-term use leads to the development of cannabis use disorder. Users become addicted to the high. This happens in as many as 10% of regular users. The main addictive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The higher the THC content, the more addictive the marijuana is, and the higher chance of developing an addiction. Cannabis use disorder often leads to consequences like:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Psychiatric comorbidities, like psychosis and mood disorders

Fewer Americans have developed an addiction to cannabis than to other narcotics. However, it’s important to point out that there’s not a lot of research in this field. The public still widely sees cannabis use as harmless, which is why it is the most used drug.

Are You Addicted to Weed?

As cannabis use is quite common, many users fail to recognize signs of cannabis use disorder. Like an addiction to any other narcotic, the first step to getting help is to recognize the addiction. There are several addiction signs that are good indicators of a problem. They include:

  • Building a higher tolerance to marijuana and needing more to feel high
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, like insomnia and loss of appetite
  • Using more weed than intended regularly with little control
  • Being unable to quit or cut down on marijuana use despite many attempts
  • Spending a significant amount of time high and neglecting other priorities
  • Continuing to smoke weed despite having to face negative consequences
  • Using weed as an escape from reality or other problems
  • Being unable to attend to other responsibilities in favor of smoking weed
  • Losing or breaking relationships due to marijuana use
  • Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight after prolonged cannabis use
  • Experiencing cravings whenever there’s any downtime

The Dangers of Marijuana Use

Although marijuana use is often considered harmless, it does come with some risks. Research has found a correlation between marijuana use and death from hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure. That’s not surprising, as smoking marijuana raises one’s heart rate for up to three hours. When researchers and scientists took a second look at the dangers of marijuana use, they found marijuana use to:

  • Cause breathing problems from all the smoke inhaled
  • Worsen mental illness through its psychological effects
  • Affect brain development in teenagers and children
  • Cause babies in the womb to develop shorter attention spans

Side Effects of Cannabis Use

Whether the pot is smoked or consumed as an edible, the THC will have short-term and long-term effects on the body. The higher the concentration of THC, the more intense the side effects will be.

Short-Term Effects

Upon ingesting marijuana, the THC passes into the bloodstream. The blood then carries this chemical to the brain and other important organs. At the brain, the THC will over-activate and overstimulate specific brain cell receptors. This causes a sense of euphoria and many other sensations. It also causes short-term effects, like:

  • Altered senses, like seeing more vivid colors
  • An altered sense of time
  • Delusions and even psychosis
  • Difficulties with cognitive function
  • Hallucinations, especially when taken in high doses
  • Impaired body movement
  • Impaired memory
  • Mood swings

Short-term side effects tend to be temporary. As the THC leaves the body, these side effects subside. Marijuana usually stays in the body for a short time, although THC may have an extended stay. THC can be detected with drug test screening up to four weeks after ingestion. This is mainly because the THC is stored in fat cells and slowly released into the bloodstream.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term, casual, and regular marijuana use will affect brain development. The drug can impair memory, cognitive function, and learning skills permanently. THC can negatively impact the way that the brain builds connections. Research in this field is still ongoing; however, it’s evidence that THC has a much larger impact on developing brains than on adult brains. As a result, teenagers are more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder.

Withdrawal Symptoms

The main criteria used to identify an addiction is the withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms are as much psychological as they are physical. Common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pains
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors

The withdrawal timeline lasts from one to seven days. It varies based on each individual’s consumption amount, length of addiction, and more. Some people will experience withdrawal symptoms for much longer. All the THC must be released and removed from the body before the road to recovery can even begin. Severe cannabis use disorders are associated with longer withdrawal times.

Recommended Treatment for a Marijuana Addiction

The FDA has not yet approved any medication to help treat pot addiction. However, many recovery centers prescribe medications that help treat sleep disorders people in recovery often experience. Anti-anxiety and anti-stress medications have also shown promise.

Unfortunately, more research is needed in this area. The good news is that withdrawing from marijuana is not deadly. Medical supervision will merely help make the process more comfortable. The most important marijuana addiction treatments, with the highest efficacy ratings, aim to treat psychological withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral treatments that have shown the most promise include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – Teaches addicts how to identify triggers and modify behaviors
  • Contingency management – A therapeutic management approach that uses positive rewards
  • Motivational enhancement therapy – Attempts to mobilize internal motivations and desires

Pairing behavioral treatments with medical supervision prevents relapses and increases the success rate of becoming sober.

Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment at Northpoint Recovery

Outpatient addiction treatment at Northpoint Seattle provides a comprehensive approach to recovery. Our staff of experienced professionals provides one-on-one counseling and therapy, as well as group sessions and family support. We utilize evidence-based approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to help treat substance use disorders. Contact us online or call 888.483.6031 to get started.