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Marijuana Use Disorder: Teen Version

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KEY POINTS

  • Marijuana use disorder is a pattern of using marijuana that leads to serious personal, family and health problems. Marijuana is illegal in most states.
  • Marijuana use disorder can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, you must want to stop using marijuana. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine that will help you get through withdrawal symptoms. Support groups and therapy may be helpful.
  • The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and make plans to stop using marijuana.

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What is marijuana use disorder?

Marijuana is made from a plant called cannabis. It may be smoked or eaten. Hashish is a different form of marijuana, which is made by boiling down the plant until it is like tar. Spice, or K2, is an incense made from herbs that are sprayed with a chemical called THC, which is the same chemical found in marijuana.

Marijuana is illegal in most states. A healthcare provider can legally prescribe a pill form to treat:

  • Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Weight loss from diseases such as HIV/AIDS

In some states, a healthcare provider can prescribe marijuana in other forms to treat severe pain or other disorders. You may be abusing prescription marijuana if you:

  • Take it for reasons other than why it was prescribed
  • Take more than the prescribed dose
  • Continue to use it when you no longer have a need

Marijuana use disorder is a pattern of using marijuana that leads to serious personal, family, and health problems. The more of these statements that apply to you, the more severe your marijuana use disorder is.

  1. You use more or use marijuana for longer than you planned.
  2. You want to cut down or quit, but are not able to do so.
  3. You spend a lot of time and energy getting marijuana, using marijuana, and getting over the effects.
  4. You crave marijuana so much that you have trouble thinking about anything else.
  5. You have problems at work or school, or stop taking care of people who depend on you.
  6. You have relationship problems because you don’t keep your promises, or you argue or get violent with other people.
  7. You stop doing things that used to matter to you, such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with friends or family, because of your marijuana use.
  8. You use marijuana even when it is dangerous, such as while driving or operating machinery.
  9. You keep using marijuana even though you know that it is hurting your physical or mental health.
  10. You need to use more and more marijuana, or use it more often to get the same effects. This is called tolerance.
  11. You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.

Marijuana use disorder may also be called drug abuse, substance abuse, dependence, or addiction.

What is the cause?

Marijuana changes the way your body and brain work. When you use a lot of marijuana, your brain starts to get used to it. As a result, you think about marijuana all the time, you don't feel good unless you use marijuana, and you may act different when you use it. When you stop using marijuana suddenly, the balance of chemicals in your brain changes which causes the symptoms of withdrawal.

You have a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs if you:

  • Have a family history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Have abused alcohol or drugs in the past
  • Are easily frustrated, have trouble dealing with stress, or feel like you aren’t good enough
  • Are regularly around people who use alcohol or drugs
  • Have a mental health problem
  • Have constant pain

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of marijuana use disorder depend on how much and how often you use the drug. The symptoms can be mild to severe, such as:

  • Having belly pain, nausea, or increased appetite
  • Having trouble thinking, learning or remembering
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling something that is not there
  • Thinking that others are out to get you when they are not

You may also have symptoms of new or worse health problems caused by marijuana use such as heart or lung problems.

The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can be mild to severe. You may have some of these symptoms when you stop using marijuana:

  • Feeling nervous and restless
  • Losing your appetite
  • Feeling depressed
  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Having trouble sleeping

Smoking marijuana while you are pregnant can harm your baby. Your baby may not grow normally. Your child can have more behavioral problems and problems with language, attention, and memory.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often you use marijuana. Be honest about your drug use. Your provider needs this information to give you the right treatment. He will also ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have blood or urine tests.

How is it treated?

Marijuana use disorder can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, you must want to stop using marijuana. Do not try to use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help you get through withdrawal.

If you are abusing or dependent on marijuana and want to quit, get help.

Support groups and therapy may be helpful. Kinds of therapy may include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps you look at your thoughts, beliefs, and actions, and understand which ones cause problems for you. Then you learn to change unhealthy ways of thinking and acting.
  • Family therapy. Often people with substance use disorders don’t realize they have a problem or aren’t ready to accept treatment. This leaves loved ones frustrated and confused. Family therapy treats all members of the family rather than working with one person alone. It helps the whole family understand each other better and make changes.
  • Substance use disorder treatment programs. Your healthcare providers and counselors will work with you to develop a treatment program. You may be able to go to therapy a few times a week. Or you may need treatment in a hospital or rehab center. You may need to stay there for several weeks, or you may be able to go to a clinic or hospital each day.

Recovery is a long-term process. Many people with substance use disorders try to quit more than once before they finally succeed. Don't give up. You can quit and quit for good. Get help and try again. Follow-up treatment is very important so that you don’t go back to drinking alcohol.

If you have overdosed, or are having severe withdrawal symptoms you will need to be treated in a hospital. You will also be treated for any health problems such as a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening problems.

How can I take care of myself?

The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and make plans to stop using marijuana. If you are already seeing a healthcare provider, it is important to take the full course of treatment he or she prescribes.

Get support. Talk with your school counselor. A counselor can help you sort through your issues and refer you to substance use programs. Your school may also have drug counseling classes.

Learn to manage stress. Ask for help at school and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax. For example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.

Take care of your physical health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Limit caffeine. If you smoke, quit. Don’t use alcohol or drugs. Exercise according to your healthcare provider's instructions.

Avoid situations where people are likely to use alcohol or drugs.

Check your medicines. To help prevent problems, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines, natural remedies, vitamins, and other supplements that you take.

Contact your healthcare provider or therapist if you have any questions or your symptoms seem to be getting worse.

People and resources in your community that can help you include your healthcare providers, therapists, support groups, mental health centers, and alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. You may want to contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-10-18
Last reviewed: 2014-11-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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