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Veterans And Cannabis Use Disorder

During the pandemic, substance use has increased substantially. Medical marijuana has also become more acceptable socially. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry recently found that about 24% of veterans in states with recreational marijuana laws meet the criteria for Cannabis Use Disorder. Veterans in states with medical marijuana laws also tended to use more mrijuana. Veterans who live in poverty or suffer from mental health disorders like PTSD are more likely to use marijuana compulsively.

Thirty-six states in the US have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, which has made it more accessible. However, anyone can develop an addiction to any drug. As marijuana has become more acceptable in modern society, Cannabis Use Disorder has become common in the United States, especially among veterans.

What Is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Cannabis Use Disorder describes marijuana use that is problematic to users, substantially affecting their day-to-day lives. For the user, marijuana may be the primary focus of their daily life. Some veterans may use marijuana to help cope with mental health issues (“medical marijuana”) and become dependent on the drug. While science doesn’t show clear health benefits of marijuana use, people often turn to it to help quell anxiety, chronic pain or depression.

Other symptoms of the disorder may include:

  • Trying to quit or control marijuana use but failing.
  • Using marijuana first thing in the morning.
  • Using marijuana multiple times a day and spending much time using it.
  • Craving marijuana or, when sober, thinking about the next time they will use it.
  • Continuing to use marijuana even if it has caused legal, social, economic, or other problems.
  • Using marijuana instead of favorite activities, hobbies, or friendships.
  • Using marijuana and engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as sexual or illegal activity (including driving a car).
  • Developing a tolerance to marijuana and needing to use more to get the same effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using pot, including headaches, brain fog, or sleep disturbances.
  • Using marijuana to cope with anxiety or depression.

Research has shown that addiction and substance use disorders have increased during COVID-19. Marijuana use disorder is not new; however, as legalization has taken hold, increasingly high amounts of THC in marijuana products may be causing a stronger dependence on marijuana for users.

Forty years ago or so, the strength of smoked marijuana was 12% to 17% THC. Times and technology have changed. Today, dispensaries sell marijuana as vapes or concentrate as high as 68% THC. No one knows for sure the long-term effects of strong  THC use. Preliminary research has shown that it can exacerbate some people's mental health symptoms, such as paranoia or psychosis. Many people anecdotally experience withdrawal effects when they use marijuana products heavily.

People with Cannabis Use Disorder have a disease of the brain. Treatment and recovery are available.

Getting Help for Addiction

No matter what drug you have a problem with, help is available so you can start your journey to recovery. Many people who walk through our doors have struggled with mental health and substance use disorders. We help people create a path that helps them heal and begin to reclaim their lives. Give us a call at 619-363-4767 to learn more about how we can help.



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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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