Being #fearless doesn’t mean that you are never afraid.
Being #fearless means that…
What does being #fearless mean to you, and to your recovery? Tell us in a short essay (500 words) or short video (2 minutes), and we may feature you on our blog or Facebook page! Email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.
You never hear of any dying from daily pot use. You certainly don’t hear about it in the same way you hear about deaths and other tragedies caused by alcohol and other “harder” drugs. And, there are some serious medical conditions for which marijuana is now believed to be an effective treatment. Additionally, the movement to legalize marijuana seems to be growing—25 states have legalized medical marijuana, while four states plus Washington, D.C. have gone even further and legalized recreational use of pot.
So, what’s the big deal?
Well…The big deal is that like any substance or activity that has the ability to alter your mood or neurological responses, marijuana can be addictive. And, like all other addictions, it can have a devastating impact on your life.
When people do start to feel that their marijuana use is interfering with their lives and relationships in a negative way, they often have trouble asking for and getting the support they need. Molly Hankins, in a personal essay for Nylon magazine, put it like this: “Being a junkie or an alcoholic who turns themselves over to a 12-step program, the sober lifestyle, God, whatever, registers at the David Bowie end of the addiction spectrum. Being addicted to weed barely registers as laughable and there’s no one in my life I feel comfortable talking to about it. As the era of marijuana prohibition in this country seems to finally be coming to an end, what is the popular discussion surrounding appropriate use? How much is too much? How do I stop if I want to but can’t?
Among the many excellent pointsMolly makes in her essay, her point about the need for a discussion around marijuana and addiction really hits home. The low rate of fatalities directly related to marijuana use, as opposed to heroin or alcohol use, for example, may have contributed to a general societal complacency around Marijuana addiction.
It’s important to note that even though weed may not be as fatal, statistically speaking, as heroin or alcohol, depression is often co-occurring condition that goes along with marijuana addiction. And, withdrawal from marijuana can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many people—like “Jake” who wrote a letter to Scientific American in 2012 describing his marijuana addiction—often end up having suicidal thoughts.
This means that the drug can, in a way, be indirectly tied to some fatalities. The drug may not be directly responsible for deaths related to suicide, but it certainly doesn’t help to prevent them. Here’s how Jake describes his experience:
“Over time, the proportion of high time to clean time became steadily more heavy on the high side. I went through several periods of suicidally. During my last six months of use the possible necessity to kill myself always seemed just a week or two away. My plan while I was at school was to jump off of a nearby parking garage. At home, I would use my dad's shotgun to shoot myself in the head. I didn't want to feel what I felt when I wasn't high. Luckily, I always got high before I was ready to actually kill myself.”
For those who become addicted to marijuana, "recreational use" of the drug slowly stops being fun or relaxing. The need to smoke in order to cope with life’s ups and downs and the need to hide how much you’re smoking (or ingesting) from others can have the same isolating and disruptive effects on a person’s life as any other addiction. Here are a few of the signs that someone may be dependent on the drug:
People who are addicted to pot often think that they aren’t "really addicted" if they don't smoke it every day. While it’s true that marijuana addicts can go a few days between smoking again before they suffer any symptoms, it’s important to note that that’s because the chemicals in marijuana can stay in a person’s system for days. Once all of those chemicals are out of their system, subtle but serious withdrawal symptoms can start to set in. The first sign is a craving powerful enough to drive the addict to use the drug again.
2. Irritability and Depression
People who are addicted to marijuana find themselves becoming increasingly irritable and depressed if they go many hours without another hit. Often they don’t recognize the connection between their mood changes and the drug. After several days without the drug addicts can begin to develop severe depression accompanied by frequent crying spells. Many in recovery from marijuana addiction say the experienced a rapid and immense drop in self-confidence and self-esteem along with intense feelings of worthless and anxiety. Some even developed suicidal thoughts.
3. Loss of Ambition
While some pot users may continue to function at their jobs and their personal lives, addicts may end up accomplishing a lot less than would if they were not addicted to the drug. People who were once active and ambitious may stop participating in work, school or social functions, and lower their ambitions or drop them altogether.
4. Physical Changes
Withdrawal from marijuana can also include physical symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite. People in withdrawal often also report having sleep disturbances and nightmares that can continue over a period of months.
Many people with addiction and substance use problems are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma associated with the disorder. This can especially be true for those struggling with marijuana addiction. Since many harbor the belief that marijuana is a completely harmless drug, many addicts might assume that their friends and or family members will dismiss their concerns, especially if they are marijuana users too who don’t feel that they have experienced any ill effects from the drug.
So, it’s especially important for those who fear that they may be dependent on pot to know that they are not alone - many people struggle with this particular drug in the same ways that they do. They are not imagining things—marijuana addiction is real and it can be treated. And, They are not weak - anyone can become addicted to marijuana.
If you think that you or a loved might have a problem with marijuana, reach out for help from a therapist and a local Marijuana Anonymous (MA) group.
If the addiction is severe and is accompanied by other disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder—and it often is— inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment may be needed. If so, look for a program that provides treatments that can begin to heal both the emotional and neurological aspects of addiction through trauma work, experiential therapies like equine therapy and art therapy, and brain-based therapies like biofeedback and neurofeedback.
Our specialists at The Meadows would be happy to answer any questions you might have about addiction treatment. Please call us anytime at 800-244-4949 or chat with us through our website.
By Joe Whitwell, MAC, LAC, CCTP
“HELLLOOO!!! Welcome to The Meadows Intensive Outpatient Program!” shouts Director Jim Corrington as he jumps from behind his desk to greet me.
Jim is a large man, well over six feet tall and follically-challenged—yep, he’s bald. Like a proud father Jim’s grin is a mile wide as he introduces himself and then gives a bit of the history of the IOP in Scottsdale.
The second person (ish) I am introduced to is “Huggy” the bear. Huggy is a large overstuffed bear that usually sits in the middle of the entrance when not traveling to each of The Meadows’ campuses. Huggy is always ready for a large embrace if your arms manage to fit all the way around.
As Jim continues my tour he explains—and it is easy for me to see—that the foyer is designed to greet me in much the same way patients greet Huggy. It is a large round space with a sitting area in the center, giving it the feel of an “embrace” for those entering the building. It makes each patient and guest feel welcome and lets them know that they are entering a place of safety and comfort.
As we make our way around the building, I meet each staff member one by one. I am surprised to hear there are more than 60 years of combined recovery experience among them. Jim proudly introduces each person and explains their specialty and how they were hand-picked for their skills. There are trauma therapists, a sex addiction therapist, an addiction specialist, and an art therapist who also happened to own her own art gallery!
There is a psychiatrist here every week and a therapist specially trained in treating young adults. There is also a full-time nutritionist who helps patients plan meals and sits and eats with them daily to talk with them about nutrition in everyday life. I am told that she is available to all of the patients to sit with for chats about food or anything else I am interested in learning.
I am taken through a set of tall glass doors and enter into an area that is very quiet and very calm with soft music playing overhead. Jims explains in his softer “indoor” voice that there are groups, individual sessions, art therapy, and yoga all happening behind the closed group room doors.
Jim then leads me down a hallway pointing toward one-on-one session rooms. Each room has The Meadows Model and beautiful artwork on the walls. Each room also has an EMDR light bar and very comfortable looking chairs.
Our next stop is the Brain Spa. It’s at the end of the hallway. Inside there are patients lying down listening to what I think is music but actually turns out to be a state-of-the-art recording with frequencies of sound designed to change their brain waves. I don’t quite understand how it works, but I know that I would love to lie down in one of those cushy chairs and listen.
I meet the Brain Spa technician and she tries to explain another of the neurofeedback therapies to me. She shows me a laptop with electrodes that connect to your head with sticky stuff. The program on the laptop plays music and flashes lights. The technician says it does something to my brain waves—I still don’t really get it, but she very nice, and really seems to know her stuff, so I decide I’ll give it a try as part of my treatment.
We end the tour by taking a look at the group rooms with their new furniture, big screens mounted on the walls, and computers and DVD players. In the back of the building is a large room where I learn that lectures and yoga take place, and where on the weekends they show recovery movies and eat pizza.
There is also a small kitchen with tables that I can use if I need to.
This place is amazing. It is new, and clean, and everyone is so nice! I cannot wait to sign up, get down to business and start my healing.
“Thanks, Jim! Thanks, everybody!” I yell as I head out the door. It’s hard leaving Huggy behind (ha), but I know I will be back. This place ROCKS.
The year-round beautiful weather of Scottsdale, Arizona makes The Meadows Outpatient Center the ideal place to begin or continue your journey of recovery. In a safe and nurturing environment, our patients are guided along their journey through an examination of the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. We help people find the courage to face difficult issues, heal from emotional trauma and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. Read more about our programs on our website, or give us a call at 800-244-4949.
In one way or another, to the outside world, you are a picture of success. Chances are you have several things in your life to be grateful for. Maybe you are a leader at your company or in your industry. Maybe you have a great spouse and great kids who you are sending to the best schools. Maybe you have the nice car, and the nice house and the vacations and all of the other spoils that make up the American Dream.
But, in spite of all of this, something doesn’t seem right. You keep making the same mistakes in your life and relationships over and over again. You’ve noticed that you often can’t concentrate, are highly irritable, or are inexplicably sad. You’re starting to wonder if you eat too much (or too little), drink too much, rely too heavily on sleeping pills at night, or watch too much pornography. You’re starting to worry about people finding out your “secret,” and about losing your spouse or partner, your friends, your job, or your livelihood.
Or maybe you’re in recovery, but feel like you’re starting to slip. You know you need to do a little more therapeutic work to get to where you want to be in life.
“What is going on with me?” you wonder. “And, what can I do about it?”
The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers intensive workshops that can help you through either of the above scenarios and many more. The workshops are designed and led by some of the nation’s top behavioral health experts. In a relaxing and restorative setting, you will explore the root causes of your troubles and begin to resolve the negative thoughts and feelings from which unwanted and self-defeating behaviors arise.
If you are struggling to achieve your goals and enjoy your life in the same one you once did, we want to help you stage a comeback. So, from now until September 30, we’ll give you 25 percent off the price of a Rio Retreat Center workshop when you book overnight accommodations at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse.
The Rio Retreat Center is about an hour away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Those who stay at the on-site Bunkhouse have the added benefit of free transportation to and from the airport—no need to worry about the hassle of renting a car!
The rooms at the Bunkhouse are purposely free of the distractions that often accompany hotel lodging such as TVs and phones. This helps makes your stay more conducive to the process of healing and recovery. Bunkhouse occupants also have access to the swimming pool during certain hours.
Space in the Bunkhouse is limited, so don’t hesitate to book your workshop and your room. Call 800.244.4949 today. You must mention this blog post when booking your stay in order to take advantage of the special offer.
Book a room at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse and receive 25% off the price of your workshop.
Michael Phelps was 15 years old at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. It was there that he set his first world record. Since then, he’s won 22 medals — 18 of them gold. As the most decorated Olympian of all time, he has reached some of the highest heights possible for any athlete.
But, he’s also reached some of the lowest lows. In his recent, nearly 30 minute interview with NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, he describes in some detail his struggles outside of the pool with alcohol, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Midway through his interview with NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, Phelps said,
“I went through this process where we tried to connect with our inner child, and I had so many vivid memories of me at the age of 7, 8, 9… I think it was kind of cool to realize, the kid is still gonna come out in us, and that’s who we really are… Once we brought all of that stuff out, I literally felt like a new person.”
The Survivors Workshop — the same one Phelps went through as an inpatient at The Meadows—is available to anyone interested in uncovering how their early childhood experiences affect their day-to-day lives. Participants in the Survivors workshop get a chance to process and release the negative messages and emotions that are rooted in painful past experiences allowing them the freedom to embody their authentic selves.
For more information call 800-244-4949 or contact us online.