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.
In May, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare (MBH) announced that it had been acquired by Kohlberg & Company, L.L.C. (Kohlberg) , a leading private equity firm and that Alita Care Holdings (Alita) would serve as the holding company for both The Meadows and Kohlberg’s existing portfolio company Sunspire Health, LLC. Alita will serve patients with 16 locations in eight states, and offer a full continuum of services including trauma-based treatment at The Meadows, drug and alcohol addiction treatment at Sunspire, sex addiction treatment at Gentle Path at the Meadows, and eating disorder treatment at Remuda Ranch at The Meadows.
Along with that announcement came the news that Jim Dredge, CEO of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, would transition into a new role as CEO of Alita. Today, the company has announced that Dredge will begin his official duties as Alita CEO on July 18.
“I am thrilled to begin creating synergy with Sunspire and The Meadows to create more high-quality treatment options for patients and their families, clinical referral sources, and payors across the country. Combined, we will be able to offer full continuum-of-care treatment to patients suffering from a wide cross-section of addictions and other behavioral health disorders at 15 differentiated programs across the United States,” Dredge said.
Sean Walsh, currently CEO of The Meadows, will take over Dredge’s responsibilities as CEO of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. He will oversee all of the Meadows programs and facilities, including The Meadows, Gentle Path at The Meadows, The Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows, The Meadows Outpatient Center, The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows, and Remuda Ranch at The Meadows. Walsh is a licensed therapist with more than 20 years of experience in the behavioral healthcare industry, and proven track record of leadership excellence.
The company also announced that Sunspire founder, A.J. Schreiber, will be stepping down from his current position as CEO of Sunspire and into his new role as Vice Chairman of the Board for Alita Care. In addition, Chris Diamond, who is currently CEO of Remuda Ranch at The Meadows, will transition to a new role as President of Sunspire Health. He will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Sunspire, a company with 10 facilities in seven different states. Diamond has over 26 years of experience in Behavioral Health; he has spent the last three years dedicated to successfully reorganizing Remuda Ranch, a multi-campus eating disorder treatment facility founded in 1990.
Clinical operations will not be impacted at either company by these changes in leadership, and both Sunspire Health and The Meadows will continue to focus on providing best-in-class treatment services for patients and their families.
Alita Care Holdings is a management organization that provides leadership and oversight to Meadows Behavioral Healthcare and Sunspire Health, LCC. Founded in 2016, the company is headquartered in Arizona and maintains 16 facilities in seven states across the U.S. Alita Care offers a wide range of behavioral health services to those struggling with emotional trauma, drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, eating disorders, and other behavioral disorders. Alita Care’s programs are guided by experienced behavioral health experts and thought leaders, who bring the latest neurobehavioral research and proven methodologies to our personalized, multifaceted, and holistic approach to recovery.
Meadows Behavioral Healthcare is the industry leader in providing treatment for people struggling with addiction, eating disorders, trauma, and related mental health conditions. The company’s programs — The Meadows, The Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows, Gentle Path at The Meadows, Remuda Ranch at The Meadows, The Meadows Outpatient Center, and a series of intensive workshops — are the premier choice of patients, families, and behavioral health professionals. For more information, please visit www.themeadows.com.
Sunspire Health is a leading provider of behavioral health services for the treatment of substance abuse, eating and other co-occurring disorders. The company operates a national network of independently branded treatment centers, currently comprising ten locations in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Utilizing evidence-based clinical interventions, Sunspire offers treatment with respect for patients’ specific needs and diverse lifestyles. Sunspire delivers improved patient outcomes by offering a full continuum of care and individualized treatment plans in intimate settings in residential and outpatient facilities across the nation. For more information, please visit www.sunspirehealth.com.
When Terri arrived at The Meadows, after struggling for some time with alcohol addiction, she realized that she would never get sober unless she dealt with the trauma she experienced during her very difficult childhood. She credits The Meadow’s Survivors Week and EMDR therapy with her helping her turn the corner into real recovery from alcoholism.
The Meadows treats all phases of alcohol addiction. From detox to our primary treatment program, we help people build the foundation for long-term sobriety.
If you are in the midst of a struggle with alcohol addiction, recovery may not seem possible, but it is.
Our program has helped many people give up alcohol for good while making key changes in the way they live, face problems, and relate to others, in order to decrease the likelihood of relapse.
For more information about how we can help call us at 800-244-4949 or send us a message through our website.
As we look back on four decades spent at the forefront of treatment for addiction and other behavioral health disorders, we wanted to learn more from our biggest influencers and supporters about why The Meadows legacy matters. Why have we gained a reputation for being able to help people who still struggled after trying to get help elsewhere?
Mostly it comes down to the talent and knowledge of our team of Senior Fellows, our commitment to innovation and understanding the latest in neurobiology, and a staff that truly cares about every patient.
We want to help as many people as possible find the freedom that comes with real recovery. So, for a limited time, you can attend one of our treatment programs at the discounted rate of $45,500. Call today. The offer ends June 30, 2016, and spaces are limited.
Keep reading to hear what some of our leaders and proponents had to say about why The Meadows long and distinguished history matters.
CLAUDIA BLACK, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE MEADOWS:
It’s been 20 years since Dr. Patrick Carnes (Senior Fellow at Gentle Path at The Meadows) convinced Pia Mellody (Senior Fellow at The Meadows) to sign on to the idea of a Senior Fellow concept, though at the time that is not what we were called. I would be the first person to step into these shoes, with Patrick and Pia already being there in their positions.
My historical work with family of origin issues made this role a perfect fit for me clinically, as Pia had many years previously established the need to address underlying codependency issues in patients struggling with addiction and behavioral health disorders and that model was already integral to The Meadows programming.
My hope—something The Meadows has always supported—was to be able to do hands-on group work, to assist in program development, and bring greater awareness to the public about the depth and breadth of excellent psychiatric and addiction treatment offered at The Meadows.
It has been exhilarating to be a part of the expansion efforts at The Meadows; assisting in program design within the family program, the workshops, the Intensive Outpatient Program, structural and educational enhancements within the primary program, and most currently the development of the Claudia Black Center for Young Adults. Congratulation to The Meadows, and a call out to Pia Mellody!
SEAN WALSH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, THE MEADOWS
It is hard to find an area of mental health or addiction recovery that hasn’t been influenced in one way or another by The Meadows. When I think of the thousands upon thousands of patients and families whose lives have been forever changed as a result of The Meadows, it is an overwhelming and very humbling experience. The Meadows’ history and legacy inspires me to strive every day to ensure we are pursuing excellence and that we do all we can to be a source of hope and light to those we are honored to treat.
KEVIN BERKES, DIRECTOR OF INTAKE, THE MEADOWS
I have had the opportunity to see The Meadows at work throughout the past 12 years, and the beauty of the underlying core foundation philosophy has been to respect the dignity of every person who comes to treatment here. This is something that I try to instill in my team so that it also applies to all those who inquire about treatment at The Meadows. I count it a privilege to work at a company that holds this value so dear. It is the very thing that we are trying to bring to our patients and workshop participants, and I try to make it foundational in the intake experience for those inquiring about treatment and those who work in the department.
DONNA BEVAN-LEE, MSW, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
I have worked in the field of mental health and addictions for 41 years. I know that the two areas of mental health and addictions are inseparable. I refer patients to The Meadows because I get results. The treatment that my patients receive at The Meadows allows them to be well on their way to a life that is satisfying and fulfilling. I can be more beneficial to them on an outpatient basis because they can actually "do" what needs to be done for them to feel confident in their journey. They are no longer plagued with constant triggering as they move through their life. This life is not a dress rehearsal, and my patients who complete treatment at The Meadows become fully engaged as players in their lives and start to leave their "victim" behind.
By David Anderson, Ph.D., Executive Director at The Meadows
We experienced yet another heart-warming Patient Commencement Celebration last Wednesday morning, as seven soon-to-be-leaving patients expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Meadows staff, the community and their peers for helping them along their journey through life-saving treatment, recovery and transformation.
At the end of the commencement, as we always do, we formed a big circle, observed a few moments of quiet Reflection, and then said The Serenity Prayer. At the end of the prayer, as we always do, each patient and staff member extended his or her right foot and Repeated loudly, “R, R, R!”
As we were walking out I overheard a couple of newer people who were in the audience say “I have no idea what R! R! R! means!”
Well, for those wondering, the letters stand for Reality, Respect, and Responsibility—three crucially important building blocks of true Recovery (and all in keeping with our underlying Meadows Model).
These are three great “R” words.
But we have other “R” words, too:
Rites of passage (like commencements and graduations)
On the coins that we provide to graduating members of our military, in addition to Recovery, we have three more R words: Reveal, Resiliency, and Renew.
And if you spend any time in our Brain Center, you soon come to Realize that a basic component of our Meadows program is nervous system Regulation.
Each of these “R” words comes with a story, a commitment, and a history here at The Meadows; each are worked into the warp and weave of our programming.
And here are even more: as we head into the three major months of summer, many of us will be taking vacations and Recharging and Recreating.
So the next time you need to Refresh or Recommit to Recovery, do the Meadows hokey-pokey, put your right foot out, and say, “R! R! R!”
R! R! R!