Marijuana is often treated by frequent users as a means to alleviate, even if temporarily, moderate to extreme anxiety. This connotation is popular, especially among adolescents and young adults. However, anxiety and marijuana interact in more ways than just reduction—and not always beneficially. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders among adults in the U.S., with more than 6 million Americans having received a diagnosis. Marijuana is also among the most used illegal substances in the United States.
When a marijuana addiction and generalized anxiety disorder meet, they function as a co-occurring disorder, which can result in worse anxiety and marijuana addiction. If you recognize that you might have the symptoms listed below, you may benefit from Greater Boston Addiction Centers’ (GBAC) co-occurring disorders treatment. Our outpatient program is designed to put you on the right track.
The Effects of Marijuana on Anxiety
You may be familiar with the effects of marijuana, but looking at them in the context of how they relate to anxiety may reveal some reasons why the two are seen so often in tandem. Cannabis, in certain quantities, can actually alleviate anxiety in some patients. However, particular strains can induce paranoia, panic, and even psychosis. Depending on where marijuana is obtained, predicting the effects of weed can be a total shot in the dark.
Contrary to what proponents may say, weed is a substance that can affect the body and brain in a way where decreasing one’s regular intake has adverse effects. It’s addictive. Addictions don’t bode well for managing anxiety, as the times when the body craves a dose are liable to cause even worse anxiety than usual.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders are two different disorders—for example, generalized anxiety disorder and substance use disorder—that exist symbiotically. One disorder contributes to the other in a way that creates a complex outcome that behaves differently than its individual components. In this case, periods of time when the substance addiction isn’t sustained are prone to worse anxiety and potentially panic attacks. Additionally, the feeling that anxiety can be wholly managed by marijuana is partially predicated on the idea that the first and often only response to oncoming anxiety is marijuana. This doesn’t just create a reliance on marijuana; it creates a fabricated sense of control.
This false sense of control is ultimately the most damaging part of the co-occurring disorder. Discounting the health detriments of marijuana, being instilled with a flimsy psychological assurance that you’re in control of your anxiety means it’s less likely to be treated or even properly diagnosed. The longer a psychiatric disorder, like generalized anxiety disorder, subsists on marijuana and empty assurance, the harder it may be to properly manage and treat it later in life.
Better Coping Mechanisms from the GBAC Marijuana Addiction Treatment Program
Anxiety and marijuana are connected at the root. The stigma surrounding mental health and weed use among adolescents can make it hard to admit or even tell if you’re addicted, and it is more challenging to ask about a co-occurring disorder. Examining your limits, behavior, and habits can allow you to ask the right questions:
- Can I go for an extended period of time without marijuana?
- Am I increasing doses or potency of marijuana to experience the same high?
- Are there headaches and pains after not using for some time?
- Do I find myself unable to quit despite wanting or trying to?
Depending on your answers, it might be best to begin looking for marijuana addiction treatment in Needham, Massachusetts. After treatment, you’ll be able to implement coping mechanisms that work and address the underlying health concerns that may have contributed to your addiction. Don’t hesitate. Begin your journey today by calling Greater Boston Addiction Centers at 877.920.6583 or reaching us online.