A Journey Within and Beyond Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis use disorder often catches people by surprise because of the widespread belief that cannabis is not habit-forming and medicinally useful. Cannabis is significantly less destructive to the human organism than many psychoactive substances, including many mainstream pharmaceuticals. An abundance of health claims has been linked to the use of cannabis in natural healing.

When cannabis is used for its healing properties, it can indeed be a friend to humanity. Even when used not as medicine but for recreation, cannabis is not a particularly violent substance. Campaigns against cannabis, which sought in the past to demonize any use, such as the infamous 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness, failed in part because they are not accurate to people’s experiences with the substance.

Due to its associations with countercultural movements, the negative aspects of cannabis use disorder have historically been vastly overstated by the establishment. For example, cannabis sits in the same class as heroin, as a Schedule I controlled substance, while the far more deadly benzodiazepines are classed Schedule IV. This is just silly. Any substance abuse education program that equates heroin with cannabis in terms of deadliness and addiction potential is doing a disservice, whatever its intentions may have been, because it departs from the truth.

As many people now know, cannabis is a much friendlier, less invasive, but still mood-altering substance. Many people find they can safely use in moderation without developing a cannabis use disorder. Although they exist, the withdrawals are not life-threatening (whereas alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal are), and overdose is not either. However, anything that provides pleasure can be addictive, as research and anecdotal evidence has shown.

Just look at process addictions, such as gambling addiction and love addiction, where people get entangled in behavior patterns. They find they cannot stop on their own, even though no psychoactive substance is being consumed. If we can get attached and eventually addicted to behaviors that feel pleasurable, it should not come as a surprise that, contrary to popular belief, cannabis is addictive.

Not all people develop an addiction and require cannabis use disorder treatment, and medical or recreational use represents a low risk of addiction. Whereas some substances are highly addictive and develop conditions of tolerance, withdrawal, and dependence rapidly – for example, it is sometimes said that single heroin use can create an addict – cannabis use disorder is slower to develop. It does develop; nevertheless, if abused daily and over a long period, it may require cannabis use disorder treatment.

Women who require cannabis use disorder treatment typically use daily and chronically when it is an essential tool for them to handle their lives – whether because it helps them sleep, relax, or because they need help to feel better in their skin. Women have various reasons for coming to rely on substances. Still, typically when they are self-medicating in a long-term way, they will need to seek cannabis use disorder treatment to address their addictive habit’s underlying conditions.

Cannabis, when it is overused and abused, has adverse effects on physiology and psychology. Especially when smoked, cannabis has detrimental impacts on the respiratory system and heart rate, increasing the risk of lung diseases and heart problems. Memory is typically impaired by chronic use, and sleep becomes increasingly disturbed. Many people get caught in the grips of cannabis use disorder through insomnia – seeking relief from the physical and psychological discomforts of sleepless, anxious nights; they ingest a substance that reinforces the presence of insomnia in the long term.

On the psychological plane, long-term cannabis use creates an ever-deeper presence of anxiety, depression, paranoia, and in some cases, psychosis. As is the case with many drugs, when chronically used, the euphoria that cannabis initially provides turns into its opposite pole, anhedonia – the inability to experience a natural pleasure. A loss of motivation, an increasing desire to isolate, and a tendency to center social life around cannabis use typically accompanies cannabis use disorder.

Lifestyle effects can include erosion in relationships with loved ones and a decline in ambition and agency (the desire and ability to take positive action in one’s life). Cannabis use disorder, when frequent and heavy under the age of 18, can actually be quite damaging to neurobiology and will likely lead to a predisposition to experiment overly with, and possibly become mixed up with, other more seriously destructive substances. In that sense, the idea that cannabis is a gateway drug becomes accurate for some, especially if the substance’s underage abuse is severe.

Also, the use of cannabis when attempting to recover from another substance, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, is not endorsed by cannabis use disorder treatment communities. It almost always results in an uncontrolled backslide into addictive use of the original problematic substance. Many relapses have begun hoping that cannabis is not incredibly addictive for many people and can be used safely by a recovering addict of another substance. Usually, individuals in recovery from cannabis use disorder treatment find out the hard way that this is not the case.

It is essential for women who require cannabis use disorder treatment to understand that it does not matter whether cannabis is or is not objectively addictive for everyone – the relevant question is whether it is addictive. Typical signs of when cannabis use disorder treatment is needed include (but not limited to) the classics:

    • Tolerance (needing more amounts of the substance to get the same effect).
    • Withdrawals (feeling inadequate, anxious, sick to your stomach on days when you do not use).
    • Using the drug to cope with everyday life rather than for celebration or joy.
    • Lifestyle changes to suit drug use, a decline in social life.
    • Loss of personal will power (usually evidenced by committing to yourself or someone else that you will cut down, only to find that you cannot do so or “change your mind” next time the substance is in front of you).

There is an entire 12 Steps program, Marijuana Anonymous (MA), dedicated to the sobering truth and need for cannabis use disorder treatment. The rise and proliferation of more and more concentrated forms of cannabis and cannabinoid substances may also be linked to the need for new entries in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which now includes diagnoses related to cannabis use, dependence, and withdrawal.

For a woman who undertakes cannabis use disorder treatment to free herself from addiction, she can expect to experience the healing of her anxiety, her depression, motivation, and engagement struggles, as well as recover her memory, correct her sleep patterns, and in general have a “clearer signal” going on in her intelligence stream. Her vitality has been if you will pardon the pun, blunted by cannabis use disorder.

In cannabis use disorder treatment and recovery, she enjoys a return to a more sparkling, fresh, alive version of consciousness as she retrieves herself from the muddiness of being off in the weeds. Especially if she undergoes a spiritual transformation from within as a part of recovering her freedom, this woman will find that she does not need a substance to induce feelings of peace, connection, enjoyment of life, or soften the edges of her challenging experiences into something more manageable.

If addiction is running your life and you need cannabis use disorder treatment and help, please know that you are welcome here within the walls of Villa Kali Ma. Your healing path can be discovered and unfolded here, with support, kindness, and respect for all the twists and turns of your unique soul’s way back to a pure, vital clarity.


What is cannabis addiction?

Cannabis addiction is a type of substance use disorder in which a person develops physical and psychological dependence on marijuana. 

The diagnosis Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) has been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since the 5th Edition (DSM-5). 

The diagnosis may be assigned in the case of excessive and problematic use of marijuana even when criteria for cannabis addiction are not fully met. The diagnosis may also be used to diagnose addiction. 

The line between problematic use of a substance and addiction to it is defined for diagnostic purposes, though in reality there can be gray area between the two. Generally speaking, addiction has developed when there is a pattern of dependence upon a substance for daily coping. 

Although cannabis is a generally recognized to be a less problematic substance than many other habit-forming chemicals and behaviors, it is addictive. When used in high concentrations or with high frequency, a pattern of dependence and eventual addiction often forms. 

On the positive side, withdrawals are not life-threatening and due to the lower toxicity of the substance for the body, problems tend to be more emotional and psychological than physical, though there is also a physical element of the addiction.

As with all addictions, cannabis addiction is progressive, which is to say that the problem generally grows worse over time. This is in part because of the phenomenon of tolerance, in which increased amounts of the substance are required to maintain the same level of intoxication in the body. 

This is also because of the nature of addiction in general, which suggests that no addiction works long term because of how both spirit and biology of the human being favor healing and growth over relying on chemicals. While a person may, from the wounded state, continue to seek out numbing through substances to avoid personal pain, body and spirit will conspire to have the addiction process fail through negative life consequences and eventual ineffectiveness of the substance. 

This may be understood like so: the life force within does not favor addiction as a solution for its imbalances, and can be expected to fight against addiction, eventually forcing a reckoning with one’s pain and learning a change of behavior. 

It is especially important for those who are recovering from addiction to a different substance to accept that marijuana use does not support recovery even though it may seem less harmful than another drug of choice. 

Marijuana is very likely to become problematic when there is a previous history of addiction to another, stronger substance. This is because when not fully given up through a sincere commitment to sobriety, the instinct of using a chemical to alter one’s inner state will eventually lead back to a choice to use a greater strength of chemical. In other words, using cannabis while attempting to recover will very likely lead to relapsing in your drug of choice sooner or later. 

Symptoms of cannabis addiction

Broadly speaking, cannabis addiction is at play when one’s marijuana use creates problems for the user. These problems can be mental, emotional, motivational, behavioral, legal, and relational. 

The official criteria of Cannabis Use Disorder states that when two or more of the following symptoms occur within a 12-month period, a diagnosis is in order (paraphrased from the DSM-5): 

  • Continuing to use cannabis in any form, in spite of physical or psychological problems connected to one’s use
  • Continuing to use even when social and relationship problems are linked to one’s use
  • Experiencing cravings for cannabis
  • Struggling or failing to control or cut down on use of cannabis
  • Choosing to prioritize one’s cannabis use over other social, work-related, or school-related activities
  • Consequences to one’s performance at work or school because of the use of cannabis
  • Spending a significant amount of time using cannabis or engaged in activities related to procuring it
  • Using cannabis in dangerous situations
  • Using more than one meant to, or after deciding not to anymore (loss of willpower and self-control regarding cannabis)
  • Development of tolerance to cannabis (more is needed to achieve the same effect)
  • Experiencing cannabis withdrawals

Causes of cannabis addiction

Like all substance addictions, cannabis addiction is not caused by a single factor but rather results from a complex combination of influences. 

Those with family histories of addiction are more prone to developing addiction themselves, and this applies to marijuana addiction as well. This is true with any substance – for example a family history of alcoholism can contribute to likelihood of developing cannabis addiction. 

Families in which there are unaddressed traumas, mental illness, abuse, neglect, and other forms of relationship dysfunction, such as codependence, are fertile environments for family members to develop addiction patterning. It is very common to find problematic family experiences in the backgrounds of those who develop reliance on marijuana. 

An additional angle to consider is the role of other mental health diagnoses. Those who are diagnosed (or would be diagnosed if treated in a clinical context) with depression and anxiety are more likely to develop cannabis addiction than the average population. 

Life circumstances such as severe stress, poverty, environmental factors, and the influence of peers can contribute to a lifestyle that lends itself to cannabis use, as well, which increases the chances of developing the condition of addiction.  

Treatment for cannabis addiction

There are a handful of different treatment options for people with cannabis addiction. Treatment models originally developed for the treatment of alcoholism and other substance addictions may be successfully applied to the case of cannabis addiction as well, since after detox and education, the cure is essentially the same. 

The cure for cannabis addiction involves engaging in a treatment program that includes education about one’s addiction, skills training for changing behaviors and habits, individual psychotherapy to work on one’s inner experiences, group therapy, and ideally, trauma treatment, especially when specific traumas have been identified. 

Generally a person can recover when they have special help address the underlying psychological state that is setting a person up to seek relief through substances, combined with a group community setting that holds each person accountable for their sobriety and helps keep people awake and aware to the perennial dangers of relapse. 

Please note also that when there is a co-occurring condition like depression, anxiety, PTSD or codependency, addressing both conditions simultaneously through a coordinated treatment approach is generally considered to be best. If co-existing conditions are not treated and substance use is addressed as if it exists independently to emotional or mental struggles, the recovering person is more likely to relapse. 

At Villa Kali Ma, we offer a variety of ways of addressing the various types of pain that affect the human being, mind body and soul. This way a person receiving treatment for cannabis addiction changes not only the behavior itself but also heals underlying states of being. 

Cannabis addiction treatment options

Cannabis addiction is treated well in outpatient as well as residential settings. Depending on the severity of her addiction and the demands of her context, it may be recommended that a woman enter a more or less structured treatment setting. Addiction professionals and treatment teams can assist in determining what type of setting is most appropriate.

There is a 12-Step program called Marijuana Anonymous which is specifically dedicated to recovering from cannabis addiction, which is a good resource for during and especially after treatment. Connecting to a community of people who understand addiction thoroughly, who will help hold vigilance regarding early signs of relapse, is especially critical for any woman in sobriety. 

Additionally, 12-Step is a source of joy and friends. Finding emotional connection and a place to belong at last within a group of recovering people helps reduce psychological isolation that was a contributor to using in the first place. These types of community, which are based on shared vulnerability as well as hope and joy, address the deep loneliness that hurts most of us at the soul level, with or without addiction. 

Cannabis addiction treatment options include holistic settings like Villa Kali Ma. It is our belief that it is important to focus treatment on healing deepest available levels of body, mind, and soul so that the whole person recovers. Psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain are all involved in why we may turn to cannabis addiction to cope, therefore we believe each of these domains should be addressed when receiving treatment that’s intended to achieve long-lasting success in sobriety.

Cannabis addiction responds well to our holistic approaches to healing from multidimensional pain. Review Villa Kali Ma’s diversified range of treatments and modalities here [https://villakalima.com/sustainable-recovery/], to see for yourself how we have taken care to integrate the best of Eastern medicine, yoga, ayurveda, art therapies and indigenous wisdom, hand in hand with the strengths of the Western psychological and medical models. 

We hold that each woman affected by cannabis addiction is a unique individual whose struggles coping with themselves and their surroundings need to be compassionately witnessed, supported, and healed with the best modalities and practitioners available. Supporting our recovering women at every level of their being, we see women return to lives of meaning, happiness, and purpose through these paths. 

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