Marijuana Addiction Treatment in New York

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is one of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs in America.


As of 2021, marijuana became legal across New York for both medicinal and recreational use. However, excessive cannabis use can lead to dependence and addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with cannabis use disorder, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about marijuana addiction treatment options. You’ll also find various resources and helpful guides to help you identify marijuana abuse.

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain

Marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as “THC”. It also contains other effective ingredients like Cannabidiol or “CBD”. While the two components exist in most cannabis products, their ratio can vary significantly.

The drug manifests its effects by mimicking the effects of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is a naturally occurring brain chemical that plays a significant role in the reward system.

THC also affects other parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala, which are responsible for memory formation and emotional regulation.

The collective effect of marijuana’s chemicals on the brain results in its common perceived effects, including:

  • Deep relaxation and euphoria
  • Impaired cognitive functions
  • Loose short-term memory
  • Heightened sensory perception

That being said, excessive use can also lead to several adverse effects, including developing tolerance and down-regulation, panic attacks, and a high risk of developing mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Is Cannabis Addictive?

Although marijuana doesn’t have a high addictive potential like some other regulated drugs, it still has the potential to develop into psychological dependence, which can lead to substance use disorder and marijuana addiction.

Frequent cannabis use can lead to intense cravings for the drug when you’re not using it. This is because your brain associates it with reward, and therefore continues to seek its stimulation.

In fact, a recent report by the CDC found that up to 3 in every 10 adults who use marijuana end up getting addicted to it. The risk of addiction becomes even greater for young people who start using marijuana during their adolescence.

How Does Marijuana Dependence Develop?

Regular cannabis use can lead to tolerance and downregulation. This happens when your body adapts to the presence of THC in your system, so it starts creating fewer receptors to bind to them in an effort to maintain balance.

When this happens, the effects of the current dose will start to diminish, forcing users to up their dose to achieve the same impact. This cycle of tolerance and dose increase continues to grow, which develops severe dependence on the drug.

Left unchecked, the dependence will develop into addiction where the body experiences uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms between periods of not using marijuana.

How Common Is Marijuana Abuse and Addiction?

While marijuana isn’t as physically addictive as drugs like cocaine or heroin, it still has a high addictive potential and is one of the most commonly used drugs in New York.

In fact, the drug ranked alongside cocaine and heroin in terms of prevalence according to the Department of Justice, with up to 38% of New York adults reporting using it.

The main reason for this high addiction rate despite low addictiveness is the low awareness of cannabis’s addictive potential. As a result, people abuse the drug while underestimating its risks.

How Dangerous Is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana is often viewed as a less harmful drug compared to other psychoactive agents, and for the most part, the statement is true.

That being said, it’s still an addictive drug with a potential for abuse and dependence, so it can have significant consequences on frequent users.

For example, unlike opioids, a marijuana overdose isn’t fatal. However, chronic use can impact various aspects of life. It may lead to an increased risk of mental health issues, severely impaired memory, and difficulty concentrating.

Physical effects of smoking weed also include irritation of the lungs and developing respiratory infections.

Additionally, like other forms of drug addiction, it can lead to strained relationships and abandoning responsibilities, which heavily damages social, professional, and academic lives.

Cannabis As a Gateway Drug

A lot of people attribute the risk of cannabis abuse to consuming other more addictive drugs. In fact, son Studies have established a correlation between cannabis use and other, more potent drugs, such as opioids.

Of course, not everyone who uses marijuana will end up using other drugs, and not everyone who experimented with drugs other than marijuana cites cannabis use as a cause.

However, research shows that the risk of cannabis being a gateway drug is far more common among teenagers and those who are exposed to marijuana from a young age.

Identifying Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana use disorder can manifest in both physical and behavioral changes. Here’s a quick look at the most common signs to watch out for.

Physical Symptoms

  • Reddish (bloodshot) eyes due to dilatation of eye blood vessels
  • Impaired coordination and balance
  • Slower reaction time and reduced motor skills
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Memory impairment
  • Losing track of time
  • Experiencing marijuana withdrawal symptoms between periods of marijuana use
  • Developing anxiety and depression (long-term use)

Behavioral Signs

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Withdrawal and isolation from society and family members
  • Irritability and mood swings (long-term use)
  • Lack of self-esteem and continuous guilt
  • Changing the mode of administration of cannabis with the sole purpose of maximizing the dose and increasing the effects of marijuana.
  • Neglecting social, academic, and/or professional responsibilities

Causes of Marijuana Abuse

Like other forms of addiction, marijuana addiction is a complex condition that results from a combination of factors rather than a single one.

One important factor is the age at which someone starts using cannabis. A study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that starting drug use at a young age significantly increases the risk of drug abuse in the future.

Additionally, people with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, may turn to marijuana to self-medicate their symptoms. Doing this without seeking professional medical advice can easily lead to abuse and addiction.

Easy access to marijuana is also one of the heavily underrated factors behind substance abuse, especially among younger users as well.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Approaches

Now that you know more about marijuana addiction and how it develops, here’s a brief overview of the different treatment options that can help with the condition.

Drug Detoxification

The initial stage of marijuana addiction always starts with medical detox, which is the process of removing marijuana and its metabolites from the body.

This can take various forms depending on the severity of addiction and personal preferences, including:

  • Inpatient Treatment: Patients remain in the treatment center for the entire duration of the detox period, receiving round-the-clock supervision and medical care. This usually includes prescribed medications and supportive care to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Allows individuals to return home after treatment sessions, which is highly convenient for mild cases.

Individual Therapy

This makes the main bulk of post-detox treatment. It includes individual counseling sessions to explore and deal with the underlying causes of addiction. Therapists can use a wide range of evidence-based approaches here, such as:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: simply known as CBT. This is the most popular approach, which helps identify negative thought patterns that contribute to marijuana use and find ways to overcome them. It helps patients avoid drug use triggers and create new coping mechanisms.
  • Contingency Management: This method uses rewards, affirmations, and positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence and healthy behaviors.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: This therapy focuses on helping individuals build intrinsic motivation to change their lifestyle and maintain sobriety.

Group Therapy

Since isolation is one of the main troubles associated with addiction, support groups can be an excellent way to overcome these challenges while creating a sense of community.

It also helps patients solidify their commitment to abstinence by sharing their experiences and achievements together.

Group therapy may also include family counseling, which helps in fixing the broken relationships between family members due to addiction.

Transitional Living Houses

These are regulated and structured residences that act as a stepping stone between residential treatment and independent living.

They’re rarely required for cannabis addiction, except for severe cases who spend a significantly long time in rehab and need time to adjust before returning to everyday life.

Supportive Treatments

Supportive treatment is an umbrella term that includes a variety of approaches to support patients’ well-being and increase their chances of maintaining long-term sobriety.

Besides equipping patients with relapse prevention techniques to manage cravings after release, it can also include activities like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and exercise, which can help manage stress, improve mood, and promote healthy lifestyle habits.

Finding the Best Marijuana Addiction Treatment in New York

While treating marijuana addiction, you should always remember that every case is unique, and therefore, the treatment should be highly personalized to address each individual’s needs and circumstances.

This typically involves a combination of the treatment programs mentioned above, which are tailored to address any co-occurring mental health issues or underlying factors that contribute to the addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana dependence, seeking help is the first step towards a brighter future. Mid Hudson Addiction Recovery offers immediate access to qualified experts who can guide you through the journey of recovery.