The Marijuana Maintenance Plan

All over the United States, attitudes and opinions concerning marijuana are changing. What was once demonized as a guaranteed gateway drug to heroin and worse is now advertised all over Los Angeles and other cities as a panacea for all ills, big and small. It’s even gaining traction as a harm-reductive substance use disorder treatment track, substituting THC for harder drugs like opioids. This is known in recovery circles as “marijuana maintenance”. Marijuana doesn’t have the fatality rate of hard drugs. However, it does come with its own set of dangers. This is particularly true for those trying to recover.

Filling In an Incomplete Picture

We’re all familiar with the stereotypical image of the heavy marijuana user, sitting on the couch all day, eating Cocoa Puffs, and watching cartoons or playing video games. It seems that this person can’t bother with the world much at all. Writing this off as pot-induced laziness, though, is to paint an incomplete picture. Cannabis users often praise the drug for its anxiety-relieving properties. However, this is only true at very low, non-intoxicating doses. A joint study by the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that higher levels of THC actually increase anxiety and lower stress tolerance. That heavy marijuana user sitting in front of the TV isn’t kicking back and relaxing – they’re hiding in a safe place, unable to engage in the rigors of the world.

Marijuana Use Disorder

A pitfall of the marijuana maintenance plan is the risk of a marijuana use disorder. A study by Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. suggests that up to 30% of marijuana users have some type of marijuana use disorder, ranging from mild to severe. In other words, it’s trading one addiction for another. While the immediate danger of opiate overdose is removed, the psychological aspects that drove the original addiction remain untreated. Users still see themselves as incomplete, stuck in “addict mind,” and the cycle continues.

Setting the Stage for Relapse

Heavy marijuana use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, decreased appetite, mood swings, irritability, and depression. These symptoms can begin as soon as a few hours after the effects of the drug wear off and can last for months. And while they may seem trivial compared to the horrors of opiate or alcohol withdrawal, they’re exactly the kind of factors that can spell serious trouble for a person using a marijuana maintenance plan to recover from harder, more immediately dangerous drugs. More specifically, it’s setting the stage for relapse.

Your Ideal Recovery Plan

A successful recovery plan involves working through the traumas that bring about substance use disorders, not trying to conceal them behind a veil of smoke. It also includes learning to manage stress and cope with it, not reduce our tolerance to it. Creative Care treats marijuana and other substance use disorders, along with the mental health conditions associated with them as part of our dual diagnosis treatment program. Furthermore, we have a fully equipped staff, including a consulting psychiatrist, psychotherapists, registered nurses, counselors, and other highly trained professionals, and tailor our treatment services to each client’s individual needs. Those services may include:

  • Medications
  • Family or couples therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Nutrition group
  • Equine group
  • Yoga and other relaxation therapy

We work as a team to create your ideal recovery plan. If you or someone you love is suffering from an untreated mental health condition, start the recovery process today by calling Creative Care at 800-832-3280.