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Marijuana (cont.)

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What are the treatments for marijuana abuse and addiction?

Most individuals with marijuana abuse or dependence are treated on an outpatient basis. Admission to outpatient and inpatient treatment programs for marijuana addiction has increased over the years to the point that the addiction to this substance is nearly as high as dependence on other illegal drugs, like cocaine or heroin.

Behavioral treatments, like motivational enhancement therapy (MET), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and contingency management (CM), as well as family based treatments have been found to be effective treatments for marijuana abuse and addiction. MET is designed to lessen the resistance a person who abuses marijuana may have to abstaining from using it. This intervention is also designed to motivate the individual to change. CBT teaches people who abuse marijuana skills to help them stop using the drug and to ways to avoid or manage other problems that might prevent them from marijuana use recovery. CM usually provides marijuana users with vouchers of increasing value as a reward for repeatedly testing negative for (the absence of) drugs over time. Those vouchers are then exchanged for positive items or services that promote the person's participation in more positive (pro-social) activities, like securing employment or advancing their education or health.

In addition to the individual therapies just described, adolescents who abuse or are addicted to marijuana are often treated using one or more family therapies. These include multidimensional therapy, multisystemic therapy, family support network intervention, and brief strategic family therapy. Each of these interventions uses techniques that are designed to enhance the skills of the addicted individual and his or her family members as a way of discouraging marijuana use.

Although there is no medication that has yet been shown to be a clearly effective treatment of marijuana-use disorders, research shows that antidepressant medications like nefazodone (Serzone) and fluoxetine (Prozac) may help some individuals manage marijuana withdrawal and to avoid relapse, respectively. Oral THC (Dronabinol) may also help alleviate symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. Successful psychotherapeutic approaches to treatment of marijuana abuse or addiction include motivational approaches with coping skills development.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015


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