As we pointed out in the last article, quitting weed doesn’t always involve rehab or therapy, or even support groups. And as we also said, statistics show that around 90% of addicts overcome addiction without entering treatment. (That figure includes hard drugs.) But that’s not to make it sound like people who go into rehab for marijuana are unicorns.
Going To Rehab For Marijuana Addiction
In August of 2013, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, produced a documentary called Weed. In it, Gupta interviews Dr. Christian Thurstone, who runs “one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics.” Thurstone says that “the number of marijuana addicts he treats has tripled in the last three years alone.” He notes that “there is no longer any scientific debate that marijuana’s not just psychologically addictive but also physically addictive.”
As somewhat of an aside, Colorado has been dubbed “New Amsterdam” because of its progressive laws towards marijuana. It’s recently become legal there to buy and use marijuana for recreational purposes. So, while tripling the number of marijuana addicts in three years is a dramatic statistic, it’s likely to become even more dramatic. In Gupta’s interview, Thurston says the following about patients who’ve come to him for help with their marijuana addiction: “I literally cried about it. Marijuana is number one on their list of priorities. They have dropped out of life.” This may seem somewhat laughable on the surface, but if an addiction counselor–a job suited only for people who want to help others–got that upset over weed, he might be onto something.
Marijuana shops in Colorado estimated to have made over $1 million dollars on opening day.
So people do go to rehab for weed. Of course there are other options out there. One of them is learning about and trying out substance-abuse therapies on your own. Even though the therapists out there might not appreciate my pointing this out, information on the methodologies and techniques that treatment centers use is ridiculously accessible. All you need is an internet connection or a library card.
Exposure Therapy Routines Help With Cravings
It is fairly simple to design your own exposure therapy routine. Blogger Todd Becker did it. Becker says cue extinction has worked for him “as the basis for deconditioning myself from having a strong appetite for food (at certain times of day), for cutting back significantly on certain favorite desserts (such as ice cream), and for giving up caffeinated coffee (but still enjoying the occasional cup of decaf).” Go to his page and scroll down to the “Putting on Cue,” and “Counter-conditioning” sections for the deets on how he used cue extinction therapy to cut down on certain food cravings. Becker’s next experiment—which is what he likes to call them—will be to take himself from having a nightly drink down to 1-2 drinks per week. You can follow his results here, on the Discussion Forum of his personal page.
Sample Exposure Therapy Routine for Moderating Marijuana
Let’s use Becker’s techniques for weed. First, figure out your triggers for they are going to be the stars of your exposure routines. We’ll use a preparation ritual as a trigger. Take out your pipe, bong, or papers and pack a bowl (or roll a joint). You can weaken the stimulus-reward pairing by cutting way back on the size of the bowl or joint. Obviously you’ll need to have some idea about what that amount is going to be before you light up. Repeat the next time you get high. Be consistent. From now on, stick to that reduced amount of weed. If that routine won’t work for you because you smoke the dankest of the dank, you could switch to a strain with a lower THC content and try out this routing.
Change Up The Reward Associated With The Stimulus
Eventually, packing a bowl or rolling a joint will stop signifying that you’re about to get baked, precisely because it has begun to signal you’re about to get a slight buzz. Also, by not getting baked, you learn how to better manage coming down. The importance of this is noted in by Dr. Kern in Hunter R. Slaton’s article “The Rehab That Teaches You to Drink Safely.”
Managing Your Weed Comedown
Kern is the clinical director of Alternatives, a moderation-based outpatient rehab in California. When he does alcohol exposure work with his clients, Kern is in part teaching them “how to ride out the drop in blood alcohol content (BAC) that results when they take a drink and then stop—a profoundly unpleasant experience for many with substance problems.” A lower high and a higher low (less of a comedown) reduces the overall desire to use again. The same applies to weed. The more subtle the comedown, the less driven you’ll be to get high again.