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    Need Treatment for Marijuana Use?

    Treatment options to consider when treating Cannabis Use Disorder

    Some people’s use of marijuana will progress to the point of significant problems or addiction. This is what experts describe as Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). Cannabis Use Disorder can be diagnosed from a variety of symptoms including cravings, relationship problems, worsening physical or mental health, withdrawal symptoms and more.  CUD is considered mild, moderate or severe based upon the number of symptoms a loved one is experiencing.

    When considering treatment options, it is important to recognize that many people have both mental health problems and substance use disorders. Helpful treatment addresses both marijuana and any additional thought, mood, or behavior problems. Examples include having Cannabis Use Disorder in addition to ADHD, anxiety or depression.

    Treatment options for adults

    For adults with cannabis use disorder, research has shown three promising behavioral treatments:

    1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT helps people understand the connections between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. One technique that is used is called cognitive restructuring or reframing. This can help a client discover and challenge their thoughts and modify or replace them with more helpful ways of thinking. Coping skills are also taught to help clients manage triggers for use, high-risk situations and other concerns that can get in the way of their well-being.
    2. Motivational Enhancement Therapy: (MET) helps people build and sustain their desire to change. This form of therapy includes exploring ambivalence which is a person’s mixed feelings about their substance use. Often people struggle with wanting to use marijuana even though they realize that it’s causing problems in their lives. Another part of MET is to examine how current behaviors are getting in the way of the person’s goals. An important aspect of this therapy is that the goals of therapy are developed with the client without any judgments on the part of the therapist in this person-centered approach.
    3. Contingency Management: (CM) is often practiced alongside other therapy approaches. It provides real rewards that are meaningful to the client for certain accomplishments. For example, a person might get a gift card or a movie ticket if their urine screens show a decrease in their marijuana use.

    Treatment options for youth

    For youth with cannabis use disorder or other substance use problems, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective. CBT can be offered in an individual or group setting.

    Another approach is ecological Family Therapy. This approach focuses on identifying how a client’s environment affects their well-being and development. It is especially helpful in treating adolescent conduct and substance use problems.

    The four main components of family therapy are:

    1. Family engagement: Includes and engages all family members rather than focusing solely on the person using marijuana
    2. Relational reframing: Shifts the focus from substance use or other problems to improving the relationship between the adolescent and family members
    3. Family behavior change: Helps family members develop new skills
    4. Family restructuring: Changes how families understand and respond to each other

    In addition to these specific treatment approaches, it is very important to seek treatment that takes into your loved one’s specific needs.  This includes your loved one’s age, race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, class, etc.  For more information on navigating the treatment system, check out our treatment roadmap.