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A Therapeutic Approach to Marijuana Addiction

During the teenage years, the exploration into drugs and substances is more common than what parents would like to accept. Whether it is influenced by peers or a drug they stumbled upon, teens often find their way into the world of substances. Unfortunately, exploration and exposure can lead to addiction.

After alcohol use, the most common substance used among teens is marijuana. Luckily, there are treatment programs available to help your teen recover from marijuana abuse.

What Is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana, also known by other terms like “pot” or “weed”, is a psychoactive drug that many people enjoy for the “high” effect it brings when consumed. There is much discussion around whether one can truly be addicted to marijuana the same way some are addicted to other drugs like meth or alcohol. The perception that users don’t experience severe withdrawal symptoms from stopping marijuana use, causes a belief that it is not an addictive substance. But it has been proven that is simply not the case, especially in teens.

Marijuana use disorder is when a person has grown a dependence on the drug and feels withdrawal symptoms after stopping use. Drug dependence occurs when the brain adjusts to large amounts of a drug, which causes the person to need higher amounts and use more frequently.

Signs Your Teen Could Be Using

Marijuana affects your teen behaviorally, cognitively, and physically. If you are concerned that your child is misusing marijuana, these are a few red flags you should be on the lookout for:

Behavioral signs

Marijuana addiction can cause behavioral changes that can be noticeable to other people, especially parents. There are many behavioral changes that are associated with the use of marijuana. Teens can become “spaced out” or seem very mellow and relaxed. This may come across as slower speech, lack of eye contact, or disappearing into their own bubble for long periods of time. For some teens, the behavioral effects can be agitation, irritability, or disorganization.

Cognitive signs

Teens who regularly use marijuana will often have foggy memory and have a hard time staying focused. They may not remember anything that happened while or before they used marijuana. Emotional regulation or a complete lack of emotions are very common in regular users.

The cognitive effects of continuous heavy marijuana use in teens can reflect academic performance. Poor concentration, time management, not being able to retain information makes it very hard for teens to perform well academically.

Physical signs

Physical signs are often the most prominent signs of marijuana use. When your teen is under the influence their eyes may become low, glassy, and/or bloodshot red. Their eyes can also become very dry causing them to rub at them. Slight weight gain can happen due to becoming extremely hungry, also called the “munchies”, after reaching the high. When under the influence of marijuana, THC tricks the brain into believing that the body is hungry instead of full. The smell of marijuana is very potent and lingers onto clothing for long periods of time which is an obvious sign of usage.

Impaired coordination such as stumbling around or slower movements can be seen after usage. A teen using marijuana may often appear to be intoxicated as if they have consumed alcohol. Delayed reactions and slurred speech may become apparent when under the influence.

How To Help

If you suspect that your teen is using or abusing marijuana, knowing how to take the proper steps to help them is key to recovery. As a parent, it can be easy to let your emotions get the best of you but offering a caring approach to addressing your concerns is best. Here are a few strategies to use when helping your teen deal with marijuana addiction.

Set boundaries. One key aspect of helping your child recover from substance abuse is setting clear boundaries for all parties to respect. Setting rules regarding their substance use places restrictions on what behaviors you will and won’t accept while setting a consequence for them. This could mean requesting that no form of marijuana or any other drugs be brought into the house at any given time.

Discuss peer pressure. During the adolescent years, friends typically have the highest level of influence on teens. They find their sense of self-worth and acceptance from who they hang around and interact with. Set aside time to have a conversation with them about making healthy and independent choices without the influence of peers. Teach them that it is ok to not want to partake in the actions of their peers and how to say “no” to something they don’t want to do.

Find professional help. Helping your teen physically quit using marijuana is only one part of the process. Marijuana and substance abuse often co-exist with a co-occurring disorder that the teen may be trying to mask. Many teens turn to drugs to cope with illnesses such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or ADHD. Allow their pediatrician or mental health professional to do a thorough assessment of your teen so that they receive the right form of treatment.

Provide support. Positive reinforcement in your teen’s life is crucial to helping them feel confident about themselves. It lets them know when you are proud and encourages them to do their best again. Creating a strong and supportive bond with your teen might help prevent potential drug use because they are more trusting of you.

If you are concerned that your teen is addicted to marijuana or other substances, know that there are resources available for help. Clearfork Academy offers treatment programs for various forms of substance addictions along with co-occurring illnesses. We safely assist our patients through the detox process with our medically trained professionals, where after completion they transition into our residential program. Drug use often manifests due to teens wanting to cope with internal feelings that bring them discomfort or sadness. Through our recovery program, we strive to teach your teen healthy coping strategies that they can carry with them throughout their life. We offer both residential and intensive outpatient treatment programs to best fit the need of your child and their schedule. It is never too late or too soon to get your child the help they need. Contact Clearfork Academy at (817) 259-2597 to find out more about our treatment programs today. 

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