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Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabinoids, especially cannabis, are the most widely used illicit psychoactive substances in the United States. Individuals with cannabis use disorder may use cannabis throughout the day over a period of months or years and thus may spend many hours a day under the influence. Even though medical uses of cannabis remain controversial, use for medical circumstances should be considered when a diagnosis is being made.
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Cannabis Use Disorder Defined

Cannabis use disorder is a condition characterized by the harmful consequences of repeated cannabis use, a pattern of compulsive cannabis use, and (sometimes) physiological dependence on cannabis (i.e., tolerance and/or symptoms of withdrawal). Over time, this plant material has accumulated many names (e.g., weed, Mary Jane, pot, grass, herb, skunk, and ganja). A concentrated extraction of the cannabis plant that is also commonly used is hashish. Cannabis is most commonly smoked via a variety of methods: pipes, water pipes (hookahs or bongs), cigarettes (joints or reefers), or, in the paper from hollowed-out cigars (blunts). Cannabis is sometimes also ingested orally, typically by being mixed into food. Recently, devices have been developed in which cannabis can be vaporized. Cannabis users can develop tolerance to this drug so that it can be difficult to detect when they are intoxicated. Signs of cannabis use include red eyes, chronic cough, cannabis odor on clothing, yellowing of fingertips (from smoking joints), burning of incense (to hide odor), and exaggerated craving and impulse for specific foods. This disorder is only diagnosed when cannabis use becomes persistent and causes significant academic, occupational, or social impairment.

Cannabis Use Disorder Causes

The onset of cannabis use disorder can occur at any time during or following adolescence, but onset is most commonly during adolescence or young adulthood. Individuals are not all automatically or equally vulnerable to developing cannabis use disorder or other substance-related disorders. Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to develop problematic use if they’re exposed to drugs.

Cannabis Use Disorder Symptoms

  • Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis.
  • Recurrent cannabis use, resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  • Continued cannabis use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
  • Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
  • A need for markedly increased amounts of cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
  • Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of cannabis.
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
  • The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis.
  • Cannabis (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

If you are taking cannabinoids, under appropriate medical supervision, an individual does not meet this criterion. Cannabis use disorder can include periods of cannabis intoxication and symptoms of withdrawal.

Cannabis Intoxication

Cannabis Intoxication causes significant psychological and social impairment. Signs of Cannabis intoxication are:

  • Recent use of cannabis.
  • Clinically significant problematic behavioral or psychological changes (e.g., impaired motor coordination, euphoria, anxiety, the sensation of slowed time, impaired judgment, social withdrawal) that developed during, or shortly after, cannabis use.
  • Two (or more) of the following signs or symptoms develop within 2 hours of cannabis use:
  • Conjunctival injection.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tachycardia.
  • The signs or symptoms that are not attributable to another medical condition are not better explained by another mental disorder, including intoxication with another substance.

Cannabis Withdrawal

Cannabis withdrawal occurs after the cessation of (or reduction in) heavy and prolonged cannabis use. The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include:

  • Irritability, anger, or aggression.
  • Nervousness or anxiety.
  • Sleep difficulty (e.g., insomnia, disturbing dreams).
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss.
  • Restlessness.
  • Depressed mood.
  • At least one of the following physical symptoms causing significant discomfort: abdominal pain, shakiness/tremors, sweating, fever, chills, or headache.

How to Approach a Loved One

There is no perfect way to approach a loved one that you assume or know is struggling with a cannabis use disorder. Many people with cannabis use disorder do not seek treatment, mainly because they don’t think it is a problem. Approaching loved ones to tell them that they do have a problem can be difficult. An intervention from loved ones can help some people recognize and accept that they need help. If you’re concerned about someone who may have a cannabis use disorder, ask a professional experienced in drug addiction treatment for advice on how to approach that person. You can not force someone to seek professional care, but you can always offer your support and encouragement.

Types of Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

There is no FDA-approved pharmacological treatment for cannabis dependence. Lifestyle changes are important in deciding to stop using cannabis. Reflecting on why you choose to use cannabis and the effects you seek from cannabis may help in your decision to stop using cannabis. Ensuring that your family and friends are aware that you no longer want to use cannabis and developing a support system of friends and family who can support your decision is important. If you have people in your life who continue to take cannabis and do not support your choice to stop using, it may impact your decision and ability to stop. Engaging in other healthy habits like good sleep habits, regular physical activity, meditation, and yoga can be used to replace your cannabis use.

Take the First Step Towards Change

Your decision to seek help for cannabis use disorder is a powerful step towards a brighter future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and embark on your journey to healing. Our dedicated team is here to support you every step of the way.

Cannabis Use Disorder Providers

Bryanna
Bryanna Tartt, LCSW
Therapy
Ross
Ross Pepper, MD
Psychiatrist
Jessica
Jessica Selk, LPC
Therapy
Anish
Anish Desai, MD
Psychiatrist
Sheena
Sheena Patel, PA-C
PA-C
Rebecca
Rebecca Helm, LSW
Therapy
Ryan
Ryan Atkins, PA
Psychiatry
Hannah
Hannah Wychocki, PA-C
PA-C
Lauren
Lauren Isdale, NP
Nurse Practitioner
Hope
Hope Hirsch, LPC
Therapist
Gabriella
Gabriella Lerner, PA-C
PA-C
Cyrus
Cyrus Ma, PA-C
PA-C
Maggie
Maggie Semprevivo, LSW
Therapy
Zubair
Zubair Khan, PA-C
PA-C
Nicholas
Nicholas Zaris, LPC
Therapy
Kumail
Kumail Hussain, MD
Young Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist
Jaimee
Jaimee Jaucian, LCPC, BC-DMT
Therapy
Megan
Megan Becker, PA-C
PA-C
Emma
Emma Arsic, PA-C
PA-C
Paul
Paul Bamberger, PA-C
PA-C
Tonie
Tonie White, LCSW
Therapy
Sankrant
Sankrant Reddy, MD
Psychiatrist
Stephanie
Stephanie Osborne, PA-C
Psychiatry
Ashley
Ashley Seredynski, PA-C
PA-C
Christine
Christine Lantin, PA-C
PA-C
Sudhakar
Sudhakar Shenoy, MD
Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist
Tara
Tara Ufer, LCPC, CADC
Therapist
Sharon
Sharon Koys, PA-C
PA-C
Reggie
Reggie Pacheco, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Sarah
Sarah Beerman, LCSW, CADC
Therapist
Sahar
Sahar Eftekhar, DO
General & Addiction Psychiatrist
Rebecca
Rebecca Gilfillan, MD
Psychiatrist
Rebecca
Rebecca Kuhn, PA-C
PA-C
Sonnie
Sonnie Cousins, MA
Therapy
Elana
Elana Horowitz, PA-C
PA-C
Pavan
Pavan Prasad, MD
Psychiatrist
Michael
Michael Colombatto, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Lovea
Lovea Smith, LCPC
Director of Therapy– Loop
Mariyah
Mariyah Hussain, MD
Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist
Khrystyna
Khrystyna Helner, LPC, MBA
Therapist
Laura
Laura Schroeder, LCPC
Therapist
Kiran Binal
Kiran Binal Maharaja, MD
Psychiatrist
Karen
Karen Richardson, LCSW, ICDVP
Therapy
Lizzie
Lizzie Ausland, LCPC, CADC
Therapist
Kalyan
Kalyan Rao, MD
Psychiatrist
Jonathan
Jonathan Kolakowski, MD
Psychiatrist
Judy
Judy Bitzer, LCPC
Therapist
James
James Histed, Clinical Intern
Therapy Clinical Intern
Jessica
Jessica Masbaum, LCSW
Therapist, Clinical Supervisor
Jeanette
Jeanette Marinier, PA-C
PA-C
Jamie
Jamie Schubert, PA-C
PA-C
Sherita
Sherita Hernton, PA-C
PA-C
Emily
Emily Street, PA-C
PA-C
Emily
Emily Shelton, LCPC, LMHC, CADC, CAGCS, CRSS
Therapy
Thomas
Thomas Thurlow, NP
Psychiatry
Savannah
Savannah Sullivan, PA-C
PA-C
Summer
Summer Slininger, PA-C
PA-C
Ravali
Ravali Poreddy, MD
Psychiatrist
Ariella
Ariella Panos, PA-C
PA-C
James
James Ham, PA-C
Psychiatry
Rayna
Rayna Gorstein, PA-C
PA-C
Daniel
Daniel Shuter, LSW
Therapist
Sierra
Sierra Purcell, PA-C
PA-C
Emily
Emily Hoag, MD
Psychiatrist
Grace
Grace Starrs, PA-C
Psychiatry
Cassie
Cassie Donahue, PA-C
Psychiatry
Gayathri
Gayathri Ganesh, PA-C
PA-C
Ryan
Ryan Watters, LCSW, CADC
Therapy
Samuel
Samuel Eckert, PA-C
PA-C
Nayeli
Nayeli Cruz-Castillo, LCPC
Therapy
Rafael
Rafael Lopez, MD
Psychiatrist
Kaitlin
Kaitlin Digrispino, LPC
Therapy
Scott
Scott Shadrick, PA-C
PA-C
Mira
Mira Ebalo, PA-C
PA-C
Mark
Mark Bey, LPC
Therapy
Miriam
Miriam Mixon, LCSW
Therapist, Clinical Supervisor
Mary
Mary Ivory, LCPC
Therapy
Justin
Justin Lee, PA-C
PA-C
Jordan
Jordan Valentic-Holden, MA
Therapy
Katherine
Katherine Cunningham, LPC, CADC
Therapy
Elia
Elia Narvaez-Mushtaq, LPC
Therapy
Sam
Sam Donham, LCPC
Therapy
Carol
Carol Briggs, LPC, NCC
Therapy
Emily
Emily Filip, PA-C
PA-C
Jenna
Jenna Jacobson, PA-C
PA-C
Dane
Dane Davlantis, LCPC
Therapist, Clinical Supervisor
Caitlin
Caitlin Daughtry, PA-C
PA-C
Camryn
Camryn Schmidt, PA-C
PA-C
Courtney
Courtney Daly, LCPC, CADC
Therapy
Christopher
Christopher Edwards, LCSW
Therapist
Abbey
Abbey DeBaene, LCSW, CADC
Therapy
Brittany
Brittany Wilson, LPC
Therapy
Brent
Brent Hope, LCSW
Therapy
Alexandra
Alexandra Gregor, PA-C
PA-C
Allegria
Allegria Knouse, PA-C
PA-C
Alyssa
Alyssa Bobak, PA-C
PA-C

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