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11 STEPS TO STOP USING MARIJUANA

By Amen Clinics

Marijuana has been a controversial topic for more than a hundred years when the earliest prohibitions began in the 1920s. The Controlled Substances Act officially made all use illegal nationwide in the United States in 1970.

Cannabis does have some positive medical benefits when used appropriately for treating conditions such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis symptoms, and some types of seizures caused by epilepsy. It has also shown to reduce pain and nausea for cancer patients.

These positive benefits have led to the legalization and decriminalization in many states around the country.

At the same time, there are also a wide range of negative side effects of marijuana that can include lung damage, anxiety, paranoia, and cannabis-induced psychosis, among others.

While marijuana may be relatively harmless when compared to other drugs, the increased potency in recent years has caused a spike in addiction rates as well as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, a condition that causes severe stomach cramps and vomiting from regular use.

Most troubling is the effect of marijuana on the developing teenage brain. From the age of 13 to approximately 25, the brain undergoes extensive changes and pruning as it optimizes itself for adult life. During this time, alcohol and all drugs, including marijuana, can have a substantially negative impact on brain functioning for the rest of a person's life.

The best advice for teens and young adults is to avoid using marijuana while the brain is still in the developmental stage.

For anyone who uses marijuana on a regular basis and has found it difficult to quit, the following article from Amen Clinics offers an effective approach to stop using marijuana.

View the original article here.

11 EASY STEPS TO STOP MARIJUANA

As marijuana is being legalized in an increasing number of states, a rising number of people are turning to the drug to help with anxiousness, sadness, sleep, stress, relaxation, concentration, boredom, and more.

Some people use marijuana only occasionally, but others develop cannabis dependence.

Whether you are a recreational user or have slipped into addiction, there are many reasons why you might want to stop, including these consequences associated with marijuana:

Quitting cannabis can be challenging, but to help you do it, here are 11 science-based steps you can take to make it easier to stop and avoid relapse.

11 STEPS TO STOP MARIJUANA USE

1. Treat any underlying factors that drove you to use marijuana in the first place.

Many people start using cannabis to cope with past emotional trauma or feelings of depression, anxiousness, or chronic stress. Addressing those issues and learning brain-based strategies to overcome them can reduce your reliance on marijuana as a self-medicating substance.

2. Choose a strategy.

In general, there are 2 primary ways to go about quitting marijuana:

  • Going cold turkey, which involves stopping all usage abruptly
  • Tapering use, which means gradually reducing your usage over time

3. Quit cold turkey.

If you select this method, choose a date and get prepared to stop.

4. Choose how to taper your use.

If you want to taper off, there are several ways you can do it.

  • Use less marijuana each time.
  • Use the drug on fewer days.
  • Opt for a lower-potency product.

5. Give yourself a deadline.

If you choose to taper down, choose a goal when you will stop using completely. For example, you might want to taper down until your current stash is depleted or you may want to decrease your usage over a set period of time, such as 1 or 2 months.

6. Get rid of all paraphernalia.

To help avoid temptation, prepare for quitting by throwing out everything that is used with the substance, including:

  • Bongs
  • Bowls
  • Pipes
  • Rolling papers
  • Lighters

7. Know the withdrawal symptoms.

It is common for marijuana users, especially heavy users, to experience symptoms of withdrawal when they quit using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms usually last about a few weeks but can last months in some people. When symptoms linger, it is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Common signs of marijuana withdrawal include mental health and physical symptoms, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Cravings
  • Appetite changes
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, sweating, and chills
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss or gain

8. Have a plan to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Enhance your body and mind before quitting to facilitate the process. Eat a brain healthy diet that includes lots of organic vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates, and eliminate alcohol and sugar. Also be sure to fuel your brain with nutritional supplements that promote relaxation, sleep, or focus, and that promote brighter moods, the ability to cope with stress, and control cravings.

9. Engage in new positive habits.

One of the best ways to overcome bad habits is to replace them with healthful habits, such as:

  • Meditation - Numerous studies show that meditation or prayer helps the brain balance neurochemicals involved in mood, focus, and relaxation. For example, a 2018 study points to mindfulness meditation as having a therapeutic effect on substance abuse and helping prevent relapse.

  • Exercise - Physical activity has a mood-boosting effect and increases blood flow to the brain for better cognitive function and decision-making. Research has found that exercise shows promise in helping people overcome substance use disorders.

10. Be prepared for setbacks.

Understand that you may encounter setbacks in your journey to stop using marijuana. When this occurs, be curious not furious. Rather than thinking you have failed and giving up on your efforts to quit, ask yourself why you had a setback. Investigate what led to the relapse. Were you overly tired, hungry, angry, or lonely? When you understand your triggers, you can make a plan to deal with them in a healthier way.

11. Follow a neuroscience-based 12-step program.

The current popular 12-step program was developed nearly 90 years ago, and although it has helped many people, it does not work for everyone. It has no neuroscience and doesn't address the physical functioning of the brain, which is the missing link to breaking any addiction. If you have a cannabis addiction, try Dr. Daniel Amen's 12-step program that is rooted in brain science:

Step 1: Know what you want.

Step 2: Know when you have taken yourself hostage.

Step 3: Make a decision to care for, balance, and repair your brain.

Step 4. Reach for forgiveness for yourself and others.

Step 5: Know your addiction brain type.

Step 6: Use the neuroscience of craving control.

Step 7: Drip dopamine; stop dumping it to keep your pleasure centers healthy.

Step 8: Eliminate the pushers and users who make you vulnerable.

Step 9: Tame your Dragons from the Past (the stories from your past that continue to breathe fire on your brain and drive anxiety, anger, irrational behavior, and automatic negative reactions) and kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).

Step 10: Get help from those who have tamed their own addictions.

Step 11: List the people you have hurt and make amends when possible.

Step 12: Carry the message of brain health to others.

BENEFITS OF STOPPING MARIJUANA

Quitting marijuana is associated with significant benefits. These improvements may occur quickly, or they may develop over the weeks and months after you quit, including:

  • Improved memory
  • Better focus
  • Greater energy
  • Enhanced motivation
  • More positive and balanced moods
  • Better breathing

Following the steps outlined here can help you make the transition more easily and help prevent relapse so you can continue to enjoy these physical and mental health benefits.


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