Marijuana and Anxiety: The Problem of Self-Medication

MarijuanaProblems at work – come home and smoke a joint.

Fight with a significant other – go out and get high.

Feelings of anxiety about the future or the past – forget about it by smoking marijuana.

A number of people report that they use marijuana regularly in an attempt to control their issues with anxiety. Whether it manifests as panic attacks, ongoing worry, a response to an acute situation, or a specific phobia, many patients feel that they can manage their mental health issues best by smoking marijuana, and with the new laws legalizing the possession of – and in some cases, purchase of – marijuana for personal use, this may be a growing trend. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that stalls lives, ruins progress in mental health treatment, and stops millions of Americans from living the life they deserve: a life characterized by balance and freedom from drug dependence.

What We Know About Marijuana

Studies and statistics have shown us that the legalization and use of marijuana are far from harmless to those who have tendencies toward addiction. We’ve seen that:

  • In states where marijuana is legalized for medical purposes, marijuana is often the number one drug of choice among patients who seek treatment for drug addiction.
  • Legalized medical marijuana also correlates to an increase in teen drug abuse for the area.
  • Marijuana is physically addictive – not just psychologically addictive – as evidenced by the physical withdrawal symptoms identified in numerous studies.
  • Marijuana abuse during active addiction to other drugs, like cocaine and alcohol, can complicate recovery even when it’s not the primary drug of addiction, increasing the risk of relapse.

Marijuana Is Not Harmless

No mind-altering substance is harmless. If it has the ability to interfere with your life and make it harder for you to healthfully process mental health issues or emotional conflict, then it’s problematic. The good news is that early recognition of a marijuana problem increases the efficacy of treatment. Drug dependence is a highly treatable issue with comprehensive care that is personalized to meet the needs of the individual patient. Marijuana addicts who struggle with anxiety will benefit from treatment that includes:

  • Personal therapy to identify ongoing struggles and day-to-day, anxiety-inducing incidents
  • Group therapy to provide different perspectives and peer support dealing with both marijuana dependence and anxiety events
  • Exposure therapy, especially in the case of phobias
  • Cognitive behavior therapy to help shift perspectives that are harmful and may be triggering cravings for marijuana abuse

At Axis, we offer a wide range of evidence-based treatments for patients in recovery from dependence upon any illicit substance. Call now for details.