Marijuana Rehab Aftercare and Relapse Prevention
What is Marijuana Rehab Aftercare?Aftercare is a treatment intervention that is utilized after rehab and is essential to achieving the ultimate goal of any treatment program for marijuana addiction— remaining sober and preventing relapse.
Is Marijuana Aftercare Rehab Necessary?
Rehab is often seen as an important initial step in treatment of marijuana addiction. It is helpful as it offers an opportunity to put an end problematic marijuana use.
Aftercare refers to a set of protracted interventions offered after the initial phase of treatment that aim to prevent relapse and encourage drug- free lifestyle.
- The need for aftercare following treatment has been reported to be high among those who've completed residential detox for their drug use.
- Depending on the requirement of an individual, aftercare can continue for a short duration or as long as needed.
- Number of days of drug use.
- Frequency of use on those days.
- The symptoms of substance dependence.
- Longer term problems related to marijuana use.
Similarly, a treatment strategy known as contingency management (CM) has also been shown to significantly:
- Increase the proportion of days abstinent from marijuana.
- Lower rates of relapse over 12-month observation period.
The Benefit of Marijuana Relapse Prevention
As with the other substance use disorders, marijuana dependency is commonly conceptualized as a ‘chronic-relapsing’ disorder.
- On average, adults with an average daily marijuana use of more than a decade have entered treatment programs six or more times.
- Treatment outcomes for adolescent and young adult marijuana users show post-treatment abstinence rates at less than 15 percent.
Some of the commonly reported contributors to relapse with marijuana use following abstinence are:
- Co-morbid depression and anxiety.
- Co-occurring use of other drugs.
- Easy accessibility.
- Environmental cues.
- History of conduct disorder.
- Low self-esteem.
- Peer pressure.
- Perceived difficulty in abstaining.
Relapse prevention measures are aimed at maintaining sobriety, delaying imminent relapses and preventing subsequent relapse.
- It is aimed at consolidating the gains made during rehab and further building on them to sustain long-term recovery.
- Research, for long, has suggested that men attending the relapse prevention sessions for marijuana use are more likely to report reduced use without problems.
- Later research has also supported engagement in aftercare as a predictor of marijuana abstinence at follow-up among adolescents.
Marijuana Abuse is a Chronic Condition
Marijuana addiction develops over years with a host of biological, psychological and environmental factors contributing to its development.
A lot of parallels can be drawn between marijuana addiction treatment and other chronic medical conditions such as hypertension.
- Like other chronic medical disorders, hereditary factors play an important role in addiction to marijuana.
- Role of personal responsibility, frequently associated with exacerbating the effects of marijuana, has been well established for chronic medical disorders like hypertension as well.
- Emergence of both these conditions is shaped by a host of personal choices such as salt intake and cigarette smoking among those vulnerable to developing hypertension, and experimentation among those who are vulnerable to becoming addicted to the effects of marijuana or other intoxicating substances.
- The search for a ‘cure’ of chronic medical disorders remains a much desired but as yet unattained target.
- However, effective treatment options are available for the management of marijuana addiction like other chronic medical disorders.
Further, marijuana addiction shares similarities with other chronic medical disorders because therapeutic adherence plays a key role in treatment outcome for both the conditions.
- The challenge of poor treatment retention observed with marijuana addiction is observed with hypertension as well with less than 40 percent being fully adherent to the treatment.
Further, recurrence of symptoms among those in treatment is not uncommon among those with chronic medical conditions as observed among 50% to 70% of adult patients with hypertension.
- These rates are comparable to the findings among those seeking treatment for marijuana addiction.
- The chronic, relapsing nature of addiction is reflected in the fact that more than half the individuals entering publicly funded addiction programs require multiple episodes of treatment over several years to achieve and sustain recovery.
- Relapse should not be viewed as absolute treatment failure. Rather, it is best seen as a temporary stumbling block and positioned as an opportunity or new starting point from which to revisit the management plan and work on the areas that require further attention in order to resume one's recovery.
Continuing Care Options
Continuing care for marijuana addiction refers to the extension of treatment beyond the initial phase. Counseling and support is continued throughout, with an aim to prevent relapse and encourage drug- free lifestyle.
Counseling Interventions/ Group Therapy
12-Step Facilitation Treatment
The 12-step model outlines a specific, self-help style of recovery program for addiction. It is a set of guiding principles that chart a course of action for addressing addiction.
- While the description of possibilities of 12-step self-help program for marijuana addiction in medical literature dates back more than two decades, there is limited information on its utilization and effectiveness for marijuana addiction.
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Follow-up Medical Care
Use of marijuana, particular when excessive and/or prolonged, can lead to various adverse physical health consequences.
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Sober Living / Therapeutic Community
Therapeutic communities offer a long stay facility to recovering individuals who have quit drug use and look forward to a drug free life. The duration of exposure to the therapeutic milieu of the community is one of the most important predictors of the successful outcome.
- Longer time to relapse.
- Reduced rates for recidivism (including re-arrest and re-incarceration rates).
Therapeutic community has been found to be beneficial for those having co-occurring, or dual diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder along with drug use as well as in prison settings.
- The results sustained better for the combined CM and MET-CBT during post-treatment phase.
- Initial reports from research studies find it to be promising for adolescents abusing marijuana as well as those with co-occurring marijuana use and severe mental disorders.
- Additionally, it has been found to improve therapeutic adherence among those referred by the criminal justice system.
Supporting Family and Friends With Marijuana Recovery
Living with a marijuana user and dealing with the process of recovery can be challenging for the family as well as friends. To be sure, the adverse consequences associated with addiction extend way beyond the user and impact significant others in drug user’s life.
There are self-help support groups for the family members and friends of drug users. You can also be of great help in the process of recovery of your loved one.
- Understanding marijuana addiction and treatment shall help you deal better with the ups and downs of the process of recovery and remain engaged with the recovering individual.
- You can support sobriety by offering emotional support and helping your loved one deal with stressful situations that could possibly lead to relapse.
- You can also motivate your loved one to remain active with the aftercare process, as retention in treatment is one of the best predictors of successful outcome. You can also help them search for appropriate aftercare options.
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