Marijuana: A Subtle Addiction


Marijuana: A Subtle Addiction

In many cases, the habitual marijuana smoker does not attract the degree of attention which other drug users receive. Their drug of choice will not usually lead them to a life of aggression, violence, or crime to feed their habit. Many users function in their day-to-day lives without any obvious complications. The marijuana user encounters very different issues than the alcoholic, cocaine or heroin addict. Recent studies have found that frequent marijuana smoking poses some serious health concerns, but again these effects are not as dramatic as those with alcohol and other drugs.

Marijuana is still the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its wide-spread availability and its somewhat tame reputation as being a drug that has few blatantly negative side effects has made it popular with people of varying ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Many users are able to function "normally" in their lives by still maintaining their jobs, relationships, and other responsibilities. Some believe that marijuana actually increases their creativity and gives them greater insights into their life. In many cases, though, these same people will say that they have sacrificed a great deal to marijuana. They often complain of low energy, memory loss, lack of ambition, and difficulty concentrating. In my work I have heard from those who feel that using marijuana has separated them from their social environment and made them feel more isolated and sometimes depressed.

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The subtle effects of marijuana have made it a substance that has only recently been accepted by the scientific community as potentially addictive. When treating the marijuana user it is important to understand and accept the ambivalence that often accompanies such a low-key drug. Some therapeutic approaches look at ambivalence toward quitting a drug as an expression of denial or avoidance of a situation that is obviously harmful to the client. This approach can create a power struggle between the client and the therapist where the client feels judged and pressured. A negative cycle can ensue, where the client becomes more resistant to change and the therapist labels this resistance as another expression of the client's pathology. Many counselors now realize that ambivalence toward quitting a drug is fertile ground for self-realization and growth. It is the job of the therapist not only to accept the ambivalence of the client but also to use it as a tool to help the client explore their unique relationship with their addiction.

Research studies have found that if the user is given the time and space to look at the positive as well as the negative effects of recreational drugs, they will have a greater probability of finally letting go of that substance. The process of quitting a drug is facilitated by increasing the awareness of the user's unique relationship with that drug. For instance, if someone has been smoking marijuana for twenty years it is obviously serving some kind of functional role in their lives. We do not repeat a behavior for so long if it does not give us something that we feel we need to have. The question is how does marijuana function for the individual and what aspects of their lives does it affect?

Answering this and other questions gives the user a new perspective on their relationship with marijuana. By increasing awareness of the influence of a drug that has been used habitually over a long period of time, the marijuana smoker will have a greater motivation to make changes that will have a positive impact on their life. Motivation for change must come from within the individual. A forced agenda or "hot seat therapy" where the client is aggressively told that what they are doing is wrong has been proven not to have any long-term effect and sometimes an adverse effect. Change starts by increasing insights into how marijuana affects the personal life of the user.

Marijuana is a drug that is a part of millions of people's lives and many of these people are beginning to take another look at their relationship with it. The effects of marijuana do not usually yield red flares and danger signs like many other drugs. The marijuana smoker is faced with more delicate and subtle dilemmas. They use a drug which may enable them to get through their lives without any visible complications, but when explored on a deeper level they may begin to see and accept that letting go of marijuana could open up a world to them that is more fulfilling and satisfying.

The Holistic Health Network.


By Louie Hallie

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I can't help thinking about my roommate whenever I read about marijuana. He is so convinced that this drug is actually good for his body and mind that there is nothing in this world that would make him change his mind. As for me, I would rather go for a herbal legal smoke than marijuana, this drug is too much for me...