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Counseling and Treatment for Marijuana Dependence

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Various types of counseling are currently used to treat marijuana dependence. While there is work being done to find a medication that will treat marijuana use disorders, as of now, marijuana rehab is dominated by behavioral treatments.

Counseling for Marijuana Dependence

Why is counseling for marijuana dependence so popular? According to the NIDA, “Currently, no mediations are available to treat marijuana abuse, but research is active in this area.” While it the lack of medication does make marijuana dependence treatment difficult, there are counseling options which can be successful.

The NIDA states that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a type of behavioral treatment that can be used on those dependent on marijuana. “A central element of CBT is anticipating likely problems and enhancing patients’ self-control by helping them develop effective coping strategies.” This type of behavioral therapy is used for all kinds of substance addictions and dependence issues such as cocaine, heroin, nicotine, methamphetamine, and alcohol. For many of these disorders, it is very successful.

There are other types of counseling used often to treat marijuana dependence as well, such as:

  • Contingency management
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Support groups

These types of treatment are the most commonly used when treating those who are dependent on marijuana. But do they work?

The Success of Treatment for Marijuana Dependence

marijuana rehab

Counseling can help you build the skills that will help you stop smoking marijuana.

Unfortunately, the treatment of marijuana dependence is not as successful as some of the other substance use disorders. “Even with the most effective treatment for adults, only about 50 percent of enrollees achieve an initial 2-week period of abstinence, and among those who do, approximately half will resume within a year” (NIDA 1). But why is this happening? Is it because counseling doesn’t work?

Not exactly. Counseling can be very effective, but it is difficult to treat marijuana use disorders, as “these data suggest that a chronic care model should be considered for marijuana addiction.” The intensity of the treatment needs to be “stepped up or down based on need, comorbid addictions or other mental disorders, and the availability of family and other supports.” Because marijuana dependence does not have a specific treatment program, its treatment is met with limited success.

Medications are also highly necessary to the success of marijuana dependence treatment. There have been studies done on THC and whether or not it could be a viable medication to treat this issue. The use of medication and behavioral therapy together is usually so much more successful than one of these methods used alone, and the treatment of marijuana dependence should reflect that knowledge.

Out of all the treatments, though, support groups seem to do well in helping those dependent on marijuana to a more stable recovery. Because of the use of self-monitoring and the ability for group members to look up to one another as well as group leaders, support groups can actually be rather successful for those looking for marijuana dependence treatment now.

We still have a long way to go in creating a stable, healthy treatment plan for those dependent on marijuana. But in time, we can only hope a specific chronic care model can be decided and laid out. In the mean time, people are still encouraged to seek whatever type of treatment works best for them.