For millennia, people have chewed on or smoked the leaves of the cannabis plant, hoping to find a connection with the divine or feel more closely attached to the people around them. Since the drug has been in use for such a long period of time, it’s reasonable to believe that people know a great deal about how the drug works, and how dangerous it might be. In reality, there are many misconceptions afoot about the use and abuse of marijuana. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that common belief suggests that marijuana isn’t addictive, but about 9 percent of people who use the drug do develop an addiction. Misconceptions like this can keep people out of treatment programs that could help, but they might also play a role in the effectiveness of treatment. If marijuana addicts go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, for example, they might feel out of place, since so many people sitting in the room may believe that marijuana is harmless, compared to other drugs.
People with marijuana addictions benefit from specialized programs that help them to deal with the specific damage a marijuana problem can cause. Marijuana Anonymous (MA) is just one of the ways in which people with these issues can get better.
A New Model
Marijuana Anonymous is built on the same set of writings that drive Alcoholics Anonymous. Both groups encourage members to:
- Follow a series of 12 Steps to heal from addiction and engage in a spiritual awakening
- Go to meetings regularly
- Link up with a senior member in a sponsorship relationship
- Study the addiction process
- Give back to the community through service projects
The Marijuana Anonymous World Service suggests that the tweaks made in MA make it a better fit for people with this specific type of addiction. For example, in a meeting of Cocaine Anonymous, users might discuss how their drug use eroded their nasal passages, cost them their jobs and robbed them of their savings accounts. Some marijuana users may walk out of these other meetings feeling as though they don’t have an addiction if they haven’t hit the same rock bottom experienced by addicts of other drugs.
In an MA meeting, everyone who participates has an association with marijuana, and they tend to have the same sorts of stories and the same kinds of experiences. Since the value of support group meetings is dependent on people feeling comfortable, it’s reasonable to believe that people would feel greater benefits when they’re going to meetings in which people have similar drug-taking experiences.
Finding the Value
Most people with marijuana addictions are encouraged to participate in therapy programs for addiction. Here, they work with a counselor in order to examine their triggers for drug use and develop new ways of handling the situations that once drove them to use drugs. People who participate in treatment like this can develop skills that can help them to stay sober, but they might still face hurdles in the months that follow treatment. For example, in a study in the journal Addictive Behaviors, researchers found that relapse rates among people with marijuana addictions were highest when people also had anxiety disorders. In fact, the stronger these individuals’ feelings of anxiety were about enrolling in treatment, the more likely they were to relapse when treatment was over.
While Marijuana Anonymous can’t provide therapy, per se, participation can help people learn how to cope with their anxiety. When their feelings threaten to overwhelm, they can go to a meeting and share their thoughts with the group. They might also feel able to call their sponsors and discuss their concerns candidly. Rather than trying to wade through their emotions alone, they have a group of peers who are ready to provide help, and they might understand exactly how the person feels and know what to say in order to make that person feel better.
Similarly, a small study of brain scans of long-term marijuana users found that using the drug could lead to a lack of motivation. People with this sort of brain cell damage might not complete projects they start or they might feel as though procrastination is more important than direct action. People like this might neglect to attend to their recovery, and they might skip meetings or feel less likely to attend to the tasks associated with the 12-Step program. People who participate in MA may know this all too well, and sponsors may work hard to help their charges to overcome inertia. They may offer to drive to meetings, for example, or call the person before the meeting and remind him or her of the date. These kinds of reminders might be vital for people in recovery from marijuana, and since it is so common, it might just be part of the care provided in MA.
People who participate in Marijuana Anonymous may claim that the program helps them in a variety of ways, including:
- Providing them with a community of sober peers
- Giving them access to people who can help when cravings strike
- Providing them with literature they can read in order to learn more about addiction
- Giving them some positive activities to tackle each day
It’s hard to measure the value of benefits like this, and some people claim that the only way to see how important MA is involves going to multiple meetings and talking to participants about their lives. Just listening with an open mind might make the benefits clear. But for those who want reassurance before they attend, there are some studies that can help. For example, in a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers found that a social support group, such as the one provided in MA, was just as helpful in delivering sobriety from marijuana as a counseling program. This seems to suggest that participating in Marijuana Anonymous could be well worth the effort, for almost anyone who has a marijuana problem.
To find out more about how to recover from a marijuana addiction issue, please call us. We have operators on hand that can help you find an outpatient program that can help you address your addiction.