Helping a Marijuana Addict Get the Treatment They Need
June 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best way for helping a marijuana addict get the treatment that they need?  I had a comment the other day and the person was very angry and defensive about smoking marijuana, and they stated that my advice about addiction was useless and “obsolete” because the world is in the process of legalizing marijuana.  It is becoming more and more legal as time goes on in more and more places, and eventually it will probably be at least as legal as alcohol is.

What this person fails to realize is that the legality of marijuana has almost no bearing on the addictive properties of the drug.  Just because the government makes a substance legal does not mean that this particular substance is not addictive or cannot harm you in any way.  Cigarettes are legal, and they are much more addictive than marijuana is.  Alcohol is legal, and it is more addictive than marijuana (by most measures I have seen).

When in Amsterdam...

 photo credit: miss.libertine

But none of this matters.  Marijuana can be addictive and some people do get hooked on it and suffer real consequences in their lives.  Are these consequences as profound as someone who is shooting heroin every day?  No.  Are these consequences as bad as someone who is drinking a fifth of whiskey every night?  No.  But there are still consequences to marijuana addiction, period.  People try to compare marijuana to other drugs and rationalize that it is not nearly as bad.  They are right, marijuana addiction is not nearly as bad as most other addictions.  However, it is still an addiction!  And, there can still be negative consequences, even if the drug is perfectly legal.

So the first step in many cases might be to convince an addict of marijuana that they are actually experiencing negative consequences in their life.  What is the most common way that this happens?  Many smokers of pot will tend to be lazy and not actually pursue anything meaningful in their lives.  This happens slowly over time in a very subtle but real way.  For example, things that people used to do before their addiction will slowly fall by the wayside as they do them less and less, such as hiking or exercise or sports.  If someone does not really realize that they have given up these things in favor of sitting around and getting stoned all day, then they are less likely to see incentive to change their life.

Ask the person to set the legality of it aside.  They probably have a card and can smoke it legally, or maybe they will soon be in that position anyway.  The legality does not matter.  If they are wasting their life away because all they do is get high, then something needs to change.

Marijuana is a crutch.  Most people do consider it to be a real hard core drug, because it has so few consequences.  But consider this: getting stoned medicates your emotions and your mood in a profound way.  You can be having a terrible day, and be really upset about something in your life, and you can get completely stoned in 3 minutes flat, and everything changes.  Your upset emotional state is a distant memory now.  And this happens even faster than with alcohol, you can become stoned literally in less than 3 minutes.  This is a powerful escape and anyone who uses this on a daily basis is medicating their negative emotions.  If they are bored, they get high.  If they are frustrated, they get high.  If they are angry with others, they get high.  Because they are always getting high anyway, all of their negative emotions get medicated away.  This creates a very unhealthy pattern of living.

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