Detox for Marijuana: Is It Really Necessary?


Detox for marijuana may not be a critical medical need from a safety standpoint, but it’s often warranted when achieving sobriety is an absolute must. Many pot users find themselves attending detox for marijuana after repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop using the drug on their own. So while detoxing from pot might not have the same health risks as detox from dangerous drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines, it does provide distinct advantages that can help a person get clean and stay clean for life.

Yes, You Can Become Addicted to Marijuana

It’s important to note that contrary to popular belief, you can become addicted to marijuana. Consistent long term use of almost any mind-altering substance is addictive. This is because the neurological processes at work during the four stages of addiction; abuse, tolerance, dependence and active addiction, are generally the same regardless of whether the substance in question is crack, cocaine, meth or marijuana.

Despite the seemingly benign nature of marijuana, addiction actually occurs at an alarming rate. In fact, according to drug treatment statistics compiled and published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2008 marijuana addiction accounted for 17% of all publicly-funded treatment program admissions.

So while the pro-marijuana movement may have its merits, the idea that a person cannot become addicted to marijuana is clearly refuted by the high numbers of individuals that seek treatment for this particular drug. This clearly shows that those people who become addicted to marijuana find it so difficult to stop using that they seek professional help, i.e. marijuana detox or drug treatment.

The following are three reasons why detox for marijuana is more successful than attempting to withdraw successfully from this drug without professional assistance:

1.) Treatment of Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person who is addicted to marijuana suddenly stops using, Acute Withdrawal Syndrome sets in, causing an uncomfortable set of symptoms as the body attempts to normalize itself without the drug in its system. The most prominent of these AWS symptoms is a compelling and often overpowering urge to use marijuana. (Or whatever substance the person is addicted to.)

Pot detox can help by treating these symptoms in order to help the individual feel more comfortable and be able to eat, sleep and adjust to the situation as efficiently as possible. Treatment of withdrawal symptoms can include medication and even sedation in some cases.

2.) Therapies and Treatment of Underlying Causes

For most people, it’s not enough just to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. Exploring and addressing the underlying causes of substance abuse – such as poorly managed stress, co-occurring conditions like bipolar disorder and genetic predispositions – is a critical part of achieving long-term sobriety. Therapies vary between detox centers, but typically include variations of the following:

Individual Therapy: one on one counseling sessions with a trained addictions specialist

Group Therapy: group counseling sessions with a small number of other addicts

Family Therapy: guided sessions with important family members

Alternative Therapies: acupuncture, massage, hypnosis

Adventure Therapy: ropes courses, team building, etc

Biofeedback: electronic measuring of body function in order to develop control over that function

Therapy is a crucial element in the programs of most detox facilities and long term drug rehab centers. Only by uncovering the underlying causes of addiction can the individual learn how to manage and address these issues once treatment is complete.

3.) Warehousing Effect

The warehousing effect refers to the idea that by isolating a person from their normal environment and restricting their ability to procure drugs, they’ll be able to stay sober longer. Because most detox programs are between 7 and 10 days in duration, this gives many people in recovery enough time to break free from the cycle of drug abuse, become educated on managing triggers and causes, and develop a plan for long term treatment.

Detox for marijuana might not be a life-or-death need, but if you or someone you care about is struggling to quit using and can’t do it independently; this could be your answer. In less than two weeks the cycle of addiction can be broken and tools and resources provided to stay sober for life. After all, even though marijuana may be benign when compared to drugs like heroin or cocaine, once addicted there are health risks that could be serious for some people, as well as risk of arrest and imprisonment, employment troubles and involvement in drug-related violence or mishap. It’s just not worth it.