Cannabis use disorder and cannabis addiction
How we’ve thought about cannabis throughout history
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. From 1850 up until 1942, cannabis was included in the US Pharmacopeia.
In the early 20th century, cannabis attitudes in the US began to change due to its associations with Mexican immigrants and African Americans. This led to the criminalization of cannabis at the federal level with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Narcotics Director Harry Anslinger portrayed marijuana as a cause of insanity, addiction, and criminal violence, declaring a nationwide “reefer madness”.
During the 1960s and 1970s, cannabis use became more widespread among young people, particularly as part of the counterculture movement. This led to increased social and political activism around cannabis, and some states began to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. However, the "War on Drugs" of the 1980s and 1990s saw a renewed crackdown on cannabis, and the enactment of harsher criminal penalties for its use and distribution.
In recent years, attitudes towards cannabis have begun to shift again, with a growing number of states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use. In part, this trend is a reflection of changing social attitudes towards drug use and a belief in the potential benefits of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes.
At present, the legal status of cannabis remains a controversial and divisive issue in the United States.
What are the positive and negative effects of cannabis?
Cannabis’s effects vary depending on factors such as the dose, frequency of use, and method of consumption.
- Pain relief: Cannabis can be an effective pain reliever for conditions such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and pain associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis.
- Reduced anxiety and depression: studies have suggested that cannabis use can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, although the evidence is mixed.
- Improved sleep: Cannabis use has been associated with improved sleep in some people, particularly those with insomnia.
- Appetite stimulation: Cannabis can increase appetite, which can be helpful for people with certain medical conditions that cause a loss of appetite or weight loss.
- Impaired memory and cognitive function: Cannabis use can impair short-term memory and concentration, and for heavy users, shrinks parts of your brain involved in memory.
- Psychiatric symptoms: Cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, particularly in people who are predisposed to these conditions.
- Respiratory problems: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis and lung infections, particularly in heavy users.
- Addiction: Cannabis use can lead to addiction in some people, particularly those who start using at a young age or who use it frequently.
How you might know you’re misusing cannabis:
If you're misusing cannabis, you may experience some of the following signs:
- Tolerance: You find that you need to use more and more cannabis over time to achieve the same effects.
- Compulsiveness: You have a strong urge to use cannabis, even when it's not necessary or appropriate. You may find it difficult to stop using cannabis, even if it's causing problems in your life.
- Impairment: Cannabis use may impair your ability to function effectively in everyday life, such as work or school. You may experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and slowed reaction times.
Other signs of cannabis misuse may include using it to cope with emotional or psychological problems, neglecting responsibilities and hobbies in favor of cannabis use, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using it.
What are treatments for cannabis use disorder or addiction?
- Behavioral therapy: This type of therapy helps individuals identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their cannabis use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that has been shown to be effective for treating cannabis use disorder.
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): This type of therapy is designed to increase an individual's motivation to change their behavior and engage in treatment.
- Contingency management: This is a type of therapy that uses rewards or incentives to encourage individuals to abstain from cannabis use.
- Medications: There are currently no medications approved specifically for the treatment of cannabis use disorder, but some medications used for other conditions, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, may be helpful in treating co-occurring mental health issues that can contribute to cannabis misuse.
- Support groups: Support groups, such as Marijuana Anonymous, can provide a supportive environment for individuals seeking to quit or reduce their cannabis use
Work with an NYC mental health specialist at Integrative Psych
Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice specializing in the treatment of addictions and substance use disorders. Many of our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Westchester, and New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida.
Integrative Psych takes a compassionate, comprehensive and holistic approach to your mental health treatment. We will carefully explore your present life and evaluate how your thoughts and actions affect your mental health, then work on developing lifelong skills for restructuring thoughts and improving mental health.
Decisions about the process are made as a team, between you and your therapist. Once you have begun care with us, we will see you regularly to monitor your progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you benefit fully from your treatment at Integrative Psych.
As a Beacon Health Options psychiatrist, we work closely with Beacon Health to ensure that our patients receive the maximum reimbursement for their mental health care services. Beacon Health Options is a leading behavioral health care organization and network providing access to mental health services for individuals, families, and employers. We are proud to be one of Beacon Health's mental health providers, and we work diligently to ensure that our patients get the right care they need.
If you’re looking for high-quality mental health care, particularly if you are a New York State employee, we invite you to learn more about our practice and the services we offer. At Integrative Psych, we are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal mental health and wellbeing, and we look forward to working with you to achieve your goals. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.
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