What Kinds of Marijuana Addiction Treatments Are Available?
Several treatment options are available to overcome an addiction to marijuana. Inpatient and outpatient recovery programs can involve medication, behavioral therapy, group, and individual therapy and counseling services. These programs vary in time, level of supervision, types of therapy included cost and commitment level.
In an inpatient drug rehabilitation program, you’re allowed to stay inside the facility while treatment is being provided. This may be a good option if you think your life at home is connected to your marijuana abuse. You’ll be able to take a break from the stresses of your daily life and learn ways to cope with the stress.
Treatment includes intake sessions, medication, detoxification from marijuana, and addiction therapy. 1
There are a variety of inpatient drug rehab facilities to choose from:
- Residential treatment centers give you the opportunity to live with others who are also getting support for addiction. These programs can vary with regard to the ability to leave the facility or visitation rights with family and friends. Some residential treatment programs let you leave during the day to go to work, while others require you to stay at the facility all day until your treatment is complete. Learn more about Residential treatment centers
- Executive inpatient rehabilitation centers are made for those working in executive positions for whom leaving work for extended periods of time is not possible. Addiction treatments are paired with the ability to use a computer or mobile device. This allows someone to receive support while remaining productive in his or her career. Learn more about Executive inpatient rehabilitation centers
- Luxury inpatient drug rehab facilities have extremely nice amenities that you might expect in luxury hotels, or in a vacation setting. These include five-star, chef-prepared meals, fine linens, and in-house massage therapy-all with your health and well-being as the primary goals. Learn more about Luxury inpatient drug rehab facilities
All of these programs are normally run as 30-day, 60-day or 90-day programs; however, some treatments can last 6 months or more. The longer you’ve been addicted to marijuana use, the more severe your dependency is and the more time you should consider spending in treatment.
Pros of inpatient programs:
- Direct supervision around the clock.
- Medical expertise on hand at all times.
- No access to marijuana (or other drugs).
- Immediate access to psychological and emotional support.
Cons of inpatient programs:
- Require you to take time off work or school.
- Interrupt your daily life.
- Can’t have regular support of family and friends.
Outpatient drug rehabilitation programs allow you to continue living at home while being treated. There are a variety of options in choosing an outpatient rehab program:
- Intensive outpatient programs are not live-in treatment programs. But they still require a major time commitment. They are usually scheduled around work or school, meeting at least 3 days a week for 2-4 hours or more.5 They focus on relapse prevention and involve many of the components of inpatient programs including medication and various forms of therapy.
- Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have a stable living situation. These treatments meet at the hospital for 3-5 days a week for 4-6 hours,1 and in that time allow access to full hospital services and facilities for regular health maintenance as well as psychiatric care.
- Counseling and therapy are often combined with other treatments or as follow-up support after inpatient rehabilitation. These can include self-help programs like Narcotics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous that follow a 12-step model, as well as behavioral therapy, group or individual therapy and family counseling.1
Pros of outpatient programs:
- Less expensive.
- Freedom to continue your career.
- Maintain a presence in a household with children.
- Proximity to family and friend support.
Cons of outpatient programs:
- Not being watched consistently, the temptation to use at home.
- Lack of immediate medical or emotional support.
- Easier access to marijuana (or other drugs).
During inpatient and outpatient drug rehab, behavioral therapy is a common approach to treat marijuana addiction. Various behavioral therapy approaches have been effective:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you skills to quit marijuana and manage problems that may interfere with the ability to quit. You learn how to avoid or cope with situations that may trigger drug use, as well as problem-solving skills, drug refusal skills and lifestyle management. CBT for marijuana dependence is typically offered in 45- to 60-minute weekly, individual, or group sessions, with the program lasting between 6-14 sessions.1 Learn more about CBT.
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET), which is based on motivational interviewing, addresses uncertainty about quitting and aims to strengthen motivation to make a change. The goal is to motivate you to make a change, rather than guide you step-by-step through the recovery process. A typical MET program consists of 1-4 individual sessions lasting 45 to 90 minutes.1
Contingency management (CM) is an abstinence-based voucher approach where marijuana abstinence is confirmed by weekly drug tests. Your voucher value increases with each consecutive negative drug test. You can then exchange these vouchers for retail items or services that will serve as alternatives to marijuana use.1 Learn more about contingency management.
Medications are often prescribed at inpatient facilities for marijuana abuse. Some common medications include:
- Bupropion: an antidepressant medication that helps to reduce the symptoms associated with quitting both cigarettes and marijuana, such as cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.
- Divalproex: an anticonvulsant medication normally used to treat epilepsy, the manic phase of bipolar disorder and migraines that has been used to reduce marijuana cravings.
- Naltrexone: an opiate antagonist that prevents the effects of opiates in the brain and decreases the desire to use them. It is commonly used to prevent people who have been addicted to drugs from taking them again, and it has been used to reduce marijuana use.
- Nefazodone: an antidepressant medication that has been used to suppress the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting marijuana.
- Orally administered THC: a synthetic version of THC taken orally that is used to reduce withdrawal discomfort seen with quitting marijuana such as cravings, anxiety, and chills. 1
Oral THC and nefazodone have been effective in suppressing marijuana withdrawal symptoms by reducing cravings, anxiety, feelings of misery, difficulty sleeping, and chills.2,3,4
Teen Abuse and Treatments
Teen marijuana abuse is on the rise, and marijuana is the second-most popular drug of choice among teens.6
Several risk factors may lead to teen marijuana abuse such as:
- Early age sex.
- Parenting and family issues.
- Traumatic life experiences.
- Environmental factors that encourage use, like peer pressure.
Treatment for Teens
It is extremely important for teens abusing marijuana to get treated as early as possible. Research has shown that early marijuana use (before 16-18 years old) is associated with severe cognitive consequences.6 Teen users experience poor cognitive functioning such as reduced complex attention, psychomotor speed, emotional control, learning and memory.6
Studies have found that early marijuana use can also result in abnormalities in brain tissue structure and reduced tissue thickness.6
Early treatment and intervention can improve care and recovery for teen marijuana abuse. The earlier the intervention, the less time required and less intensive the treatment needs to be.
Mental Illness Among Teen Users
Adolescents who use marijuana regularly have also been shown to increase their risk of experiencing other mental disorders such as psychosis or schizophrenia. This is especially the case if they have family members with psychosis or another mental disorder, or if they have had unusual psychological experiences after marijuana use.7
In situations like these, the user would be considered to carry a dual diagnosis for both addiction and mental illness and treated using an integrated approach to address both issues.
Behavioral-based interventions are very effective for teens seeking treatment for marijuana abuse. These include combinations of cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy interventions (see “Behavioral Treatments” section above), as well as family-based treatment such as functional family therapy, multidimensional family therapy, multi-systemic therapy, family support network intervention, and brief strategic family therapy.1
How Much Does Marijuana Treatment Cost?
Cost of treatment for marijuana abuse depends on the type of treatment chosen and can range from free to tens of thousands of dollars per month.
Cost of treatment for marijuana abuse can range from free to tens of thousands of dollars per month.
- Inpatient programs are more expensive than outpatient programs due to the cost of room and board. Standard residential inpatient facilities are often between $10,000-$20,000 per month, while luxury and executive inpatient facilities can range between $20,000-$80,000 per month.
- Outpatient programs are usually less expensive than inpatient; however, intensive outpatient programs can often be as expensive as standard inpatient facilities.1
- Price can also vary between public and private facilities.
Using Private Insurance
Several facilities accept private insurance. Certain procedures are covered under insurance plans such as drug detoxification, withdrawal treatment and psychological counseling.1
Using Public Insurance or No Insurance
If you don’t have insurance, you can still access low-cost or free treatment.
- Local health and social services departments often run drug treatment programs.
- Some treatment facilities may offer services for free, while others may subsidize services based on your income.
- If you are on Medicaid or Medicare, detoxification and withdrawal treatment may be free.
- Additionally, church groups, charities, and non-profits often provide free drug and alcohol addiction treatment.1
Additionally, many programs offer payment plans to accommodate those with strict budgets.
Contact Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in order to learn about ways to finance your treatment program
Will I Go Through Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from marijuana use and abuse tends to be less severe than other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol.1 Regardless, marijuana withdrawal symptoms resemble those associated with other drugs, specifical tobacco.
Most symptoms begin within 24 to 48 hours of stopping use, peak within 4 to 6 days, and last up to 3 weeks. However, these patterns can vary based on individual differences.1
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased appetite 1
What if I’m Addicted to Other Drugs?
Marijuana is the most common “other drug” used by those seeking treatment for dependence on another stimulant or opiate. Marijuana is often used to enhance the effects of another drug or to reduce the adverse effects of drug cravings or withdrawal from another drug. Multi-substance abuse -by strict definition- is when a person uses at least 3 different substances, without having a preference for any specific one.8
Usually, people who abuse multiple substances require a more intensive level of care for a limited period. Inpatient programs may be necessary for detoxification and stabilization before beginning outpatient treatment.8 If you’re abusing several different substances, make sure the rehab facility you’re considering treats multi-substance abuse.
What if I Have Other Mental Health Problems?
If you need help finding a dual diagnosis program for yourself or a loved one, call 1-888-319-2606
Helpline Information to speak with a treatment support specialist.
Marijuana use is associated with risks for mental illnesses such as psychosis (schizophrenia), depression, and anxiety.9 It also has been shown to trigger or exacerbate schizophrenia in those who are vulnerable to the disorder.7
Adolescents who use marijuana regularly increase their risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms if they are vulnerable due to family history with psychosis or another mental disorder.7
Integrated Treatment and Dual Diagnosis
Approximately 6 in 10 peoplewith an illicit substance addiction also suffer from another mental illness
– a condition is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.10 In these cases, you should enter programs that treat co-occurring disorders by integrating both mental health and substance abuse treatment methods. This is the most effective approach for a co-occurring disorder.10
If you have a mental illness and a marijuana abuse disorder, make sure the program can treat dual diagnosis conditions. If you think you may have a co-occurring disorder, find a program that can diagnose, and furthermore treat such conditions.
Does Marijuana Addiction Treatment Work?
Treatment for marijuana addiction has been shown to be effective for the reduction of and abstinence from use.
Of the treatment options available, behavioral therapy (see “Behavioral Treatments” section above) has been shown to be very effective in assisting recovery and relapse prevention.
Treatment for marijuana addiction has been shown to be effective for reduction of and abstinence from use.
- The combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), both of which are referred to as coping skills training, has been found to be more effective than MET alone for abstinence from use over time.1,11
- Behavioral therapy that integrates the 3 main approaches of CBT, MET and contingency management has been shown to produce extremely positive outcomes with regard to rates of abstinence from marijuana use.1
- Additionally, longer recovery programs (at least 90-day) have been shown to be more effective for long-term recovery compared to shorter programs.1
How Do I Find a Marijuana Recovery Center?
If you or someone you know is in need of treatment for marijuana abuse, it is important to get treated quickly and under the right supervision.
 Budney AJ, Roffman R, Stephens RS, Walker D. Marijuana dependence and its treatment. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2007;4(1):4-16.
 Haney M, Hart CL, Vosburg SK, Nasser J, Bennett A, Zubaran C, Foltlin RW. Marijuana withdrawal in humans: effects of oral THC or divalproex. Nueropsychopharmacology. 2004;29(1):158-70.
 Budney AJ, Vandrey RG, Hughes JR, Moore BA, Bahrenburg B. Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007;86(1):22-9.
 Haney M, Hart CL, Ward AS, Foltin RW. Nefazodone decreases anxiety during marijuana withdrawal in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2003;165(2):157-65.
 McCarty D, Braude L, Lyman DR, Dougherty RH, Daniels AS, Ghose SS, Delphin-Rittmon ME. Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence. Psychiatr Serv. 2014 Jun 1;65(6):718-26.
 Lisdahl KM, Gilbart ER, Wright NE, Shollenbarger S. Dare to delay? The impacts of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use onset on cognition, brain structure, and function. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:53.
 Hall W. The mental health risks of adolescent cannabis use. PLoS Med. 2006;3(2):e39.
 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 43.) Chapter 11. Treatment of Multiple Substance Use. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64146/.
 Marijuana Research Report Series. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/. Last updated June 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015.
 Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide. Third Edition. National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/acknowledgments. Last updated December 2012. Accessed July 30, 2015.
 Stephens RS, Roffman RA, Curtin L. Comparison of extended versus brief treatment of marijuana use. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2000;68(5):898-908.
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