Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Medication for Marijuana Addiction

Table of Contents

Around 30% of people who use marijuana have a substance use disorder related to marijuana use. It’s important to know how to get help if you or someone you care about is struggling with marijuana use disorder. Many treatment options are available today, and medication can be a part of the treatment process for marijuana addiction.

Marijuana Addiction and Its Impact on Mental Health

Marijuana addiction, also known as marijuana use disorder, can affect your life in many ways. For some people, smoking marijuana can lead to negative consequences, like problems at work, school, or in relationships. Others might have health issues, like lung infections or mental health conditions. Research suggests there’s a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Treatment for Substance Abuse

If you’re struggling with marijuana addiction, seeking treatment is important. A professional treatment center or mental health services administration can provide support and guidance. These centers offer many marijuana addiction treatment options, including medication for marijuana addiction, group therapy sessions, and family therapy sessions.

Available Medication Options for Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Various medications can provide relief from the often challenging symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, such as sleep disturbances, decreased appetite, and other uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. More specifically, medications like Naltrexone and Bupropion have shown promise in reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms, while others like Sativex or even medical marijuana may also be employed in specific situations. The choice of medication is typically tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

What Is Marijuana Addiction?

Defining Marijuana Addiction and Its Classification as a Substance Use Disorder

Marijuana addiction happens when a person can’t stop using the drug even though it’s causing problems in their life. The person might want to stop using marijuana, but they find it hard to do so. This is known as marijuana use disorder or cannabis use disorder. The more marijuana a person smokes and the earlier they start, the more likely they are to develop this disorder.

Exploring the Effects of Marijuana on the Body and Brain

Marijuana comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and is commonly smoked or ingested in food or drinks. The primary psychoactive component in marijuana, THC, interacts with different parts of the brain. These effects include:

  • Pleasure: THC can stimulate the brain to release dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria or a ‘high.’
  • Memory: Regular marijuana use can affect the brain’s ability to store new memories.
  • Thinking: THC can disrupt thought processes, making it difficult to focus or learn new information.
  • Coordination: Marijuana use can impair motor skills, affecting balance and reaction time.
  • Perception: Some users might experience altered perceptions of time and space.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to other health risks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it can contribute to respiratory issues, especially in marijuana smokers who inhale marijuana smoke. Additionally, some research suggests that regular use of this drug, especially among daily cannabis users, can lead to impaired brain development and functioning.

Common Symptoms and Withdrawal Effects Associated with Marijuana Addiction

People who regularly use marijuana might develop cannabis use disorder, a type of drug addiction. This means they continue to use marijuana despite the negative consequences it has on their life. They might also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. These can include:

  • Irritability: People might feel more easily annoyed or angered.
  • Trouble sleeping: They may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Decreased appetite: They might eat less than usual, leading to weight loss.
  • Restlessness: They may feel a constant need to move or struggle to relax.
  • Physical discomfort: Some might experience symptoms like stomach pain, shakiness, or sweating.

These withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to handle without help, increasing the risk of relapse. This is why seeking treatment, such as inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or intensive outpatient programming from rehab centers, is crucial.

With professional support, people can safely navigate the marijuana detox process, manage withdrawal symptoms, and learn strategies to prevent relapse. Treatment often includes a combination of medical care and therapy, such as group therapy sessions, to help people better understand their addiction and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Treatment Approaches for Marijuana Addiction

Overview of Different Treatment Approaches for Marijuana Addiction

There are several approaches to treating marijuana addiction, providing comprehensive support for those seeking to overcome their dependency. These approaches include:

  • Outpatient Treatment: This allows individuals to continue living at home while receiving structured care and treatment, usually in a clinic or rehab center.
  • Residential Treatment: This involves living full-time in a treatment center while receiving intensive support and care.
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT): This combines the use of FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A form of psychotherapy that teaches individuals how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET): A counseling approach designed to create an internal motivation to change behavior.

Role of Medication in Comprehensive Treatment Plans

Medication plays a vital role in managing cannabis withdrawal and curbing the increased risk of marijuana abuse. Specific functions of medication in treatment include:

  • Mitigating Withdrawal Symptoms: Certain medications can help alleviate both physical and psychological symptoms associated with cannabis withdrawal.
  • Reducing Cravings: Some drugs are designed to lower the drug craving that individuals might experience during the recovery process.
  • Facilitating Mental Stability: Certain medications can help stabilize an individual’s mental state, allowing them to better engage in their recovery.

Therapy Options such as Family Therapy and Group Therapy Sessions

In addition to individual treatment methods, involving the patient’s social network can be beneficial for recovery. The two primary approaches are:

  • Family Therapy: This approach involves family members in the recovery process, educating them about addiction, its effects, and how they can best support their loved one.
  • Group Therapy Sessions: These sessions provide a supportive community where individuals can share experiences and learn from others facing similar struggles with addiction. Group therapy sessions can play a crucial role in normalizing the recovery experience and providing peer support.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Marijuana Addiction

Concept of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) represents a holistic approach to managing substance use disorders, including marijuana addiction. In this treatment methodology, medications are used in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies to create a multifaceted treatment plan tailored to an individual’s needs.

Together, these elements of MAT work synergistically to provide a more effective treatment plan for some individuals, addressing not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the mental, emotional, and social factors.

How MAT Can Be Used to Address Marijuana Addiction

The purpose of the medication in MAT is to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and normalize body functions, creating a stable physical platform from which individuals can tackle their addiction. On the other hand, counseling and behavioral therapies aim to address the psychological and social aspects of addiction. They provide tools for individuals to cope with cravings, mend broken relationships, and reintegrate into society.

Benefits and Limitations of MAT in the Treatment Process

MAT can improve the chances of recovery for many people. However, it’s not a cure for addiction. It’s a tool that can be used as part of a broader treatment plan. Just like any other treatment, it may not work for everyone, and it should be tailored to the needs of the individual.

Are There FDA-Approved Medications for Marijuana Addiction?

At the moment, there are no FDA-approved medications specifically for marijuana addiction. However, some drugs used for other conditions can also help with the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal and dependence.

The two most commonly used medications in this regard are Naltrexone and Bupropion. These are not FDA-approved specifically for marijuana addiction treatment but have shown promise in studies.

Naltrexone is often used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction, but research suggests it could also be beneficial for marijuana addiction. Bupropion is an antidepressant; some research has shown it could help people stop using marijuana.

Like all medications, these drugs can have side effects. It’s important to discuss these potential side effects with a healthcare provider.

Naltrexone and Bupropion for Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Naltrexone and Bupropion work by changing how the brain responds to marijuana. Here are some of the ways these medications work:

  • Naltrexone and Bupropion can lessen the cravings associated with marijuana use.
  • These drugs interfere with the euphoria or pleasure derived from marijuana, thereby weakening the drug’s hold over the user.

How These Medications Interact with the Brain and Reduce Cravings

The interaction of Naltrexone and Bupropion with the brain serves to reduce the desire for marijuana in several ways:

  • Naltrexone functions by blocking the effects of marijuana in the brain, reducing the cravings for the drug.
  • Bupropion, on the other hand, helps mitigate withdrawal symptoms and suppresses the urge to smoke marijuana.

Discussing Potential Benefits and Risks Associated with Their Use

While the use of Naltrexone and Bupropion can provide significant benefits in the treatment of marijuana addiction, they also come with potential risks. Key points to consider are:

  • These medications can be a potent part of a comprehensive treatment plan for marijuana addiction.
  • However, potential side effects or interactions with other substances should be thoroughly discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure their use is safe and effective for the individual’s specific situation.

Sativex and Medical Marijuana for Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Sativex is a medication made from the cannabis plant. It’s used in some countries to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but it’s not approved in the United States. There’s ongoing research on whether it could be used to treat marijuana addiction. Medical marijuana is also being studied as a potential treatment.

Components of Sativex and Their Effects on Marijuana Addiction

Sativex encompasses two primary constituents from the cannabis plant, THC, and CBD, both of which interact with the brain in ways similar to marijuana:

  • The presence of THC and CBD in Sativex implies that it might potentially aid in managing withdrawal symptoms, thus facilitating the treatment for marijuana abuse.
  • However, research into the long-term effects of Sativex and its efficacy in treating marijuana addiction is ongoing.

Examining the Legal and Ethical Considerations of Medical Marijuana Use

The application of medical marijuana, especially in the context of addiction treatment, poses several legal and ethical considerations:

  • While the use of medical marijuana is legal in certain states, it remains illegal at the federal level, presenting a complex legal landscape.
  • As its use for addiction treatment is not universally accepted, ongoing research, as well as discussions at the intersection of law, ethics, and healthcare, continue to shape its role in this context.

As always, the course of treatment for marijuana addiction should be determined in consultation with healthcare professionals. These potential treatments are part of ongoing research and have yet to become standard practice.

Other Medications and Emerging Treatment Options

Ongoing research is assessing the potential of several alternative medications in treating marijuana addiction. Some noteworthy drugs under investigation include:

  • Antidepressants: These are explored for their potential in managing mood changes associated with marijuana withdrawal.
  • Mood stabilizers: Research suggests they could help manage the emotional instability often accompanying marijuana withdrawal.
  • Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications: These may alleviate some of the neurological and psychological symptoms associated with cannabis withdrawal.

Reviewing Research on Potential New Treatments and Therapies

Investigations into potential new treatments and therapies for marijuana addiction are underway, including:

  • CBD: Studies are exploring the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, in managing marijuana addiction.
  • Natural remedies: Some researchers are focusing on the potential benefits of various plant-based substances and their extracts for treatment.

Exploring the Role of Holistic Approaches and Complementary Therapies

Holistic and complementary therapies can provide supportive care alongside traditional treatment methods. These approaches include:

  • Yoga and meditation: These practices can help manage stress, enhance mental resilience, and promote overall well-being.
  • Acupuncture: Some studies suggest that acupuncture may help alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

These emerging treatment options underscore the multi-faceted approach required to address marijuana addiction effectively. As always, individuals should consult healthcare professionals to design a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

Challenges and Considerations in Medication-Based Treatment

Some people are concerned about replacing one drug with another. Others worry about the potential side effects of medication. It’s important to understand that medication is just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

While medication can be a helpful tool, it’s most effective when used with other treatments like counseling and behavioral therapies. These treatments can help individuals learn new skills and strategies to manage their addiction.

Every person is unique, so their treatment plan should be too. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to have a personalized treatment plan that considers the individual’s needs, preferences, and circumstances.


Just as a key fits into a lock to open a door, medication can be the right tool to open the door to recovery from marijuana addiction. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but when used in a tailored treatment plan, medication can greatly help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

Take Control of Your Life Today: Reach out to NuView Treatment Center

Marijuana abuse and addiction, like any other substance abuse, is a serious issue that requires comprehensive treatment. It can affect all aspects of a person’s life, from physical health, including the immune system, to mental health conditions. Whether you’re a daily marijuana user, someone who recreationally uses marijuana or other drugs, or you’re struggling with alcohol abuse alongside marijuana use, the help you need is within reach.

NuView Treatment Center provides a wide array of services to help you break free from the cycle of abuse. We understand that every individual’s journey is unique, and we offer personalized, comprehensive addiction treatment that takes into account your specific needs and circumstances.

  • Specialized Group Therapy Sessions: Engage in meaningful discussions with others who are going through similar experiences. Sharing in a safe, supportive group environment can help you understand you’re not alone in your journey.
  • Skilled Mental Health Services: Address any co-occurring mental health conditions that can complicate your path to recovery.
  • Extensive Support Network: Take advantage of our vast array of support groups, where you’ll learn coping strategies, receive encouragement, and form lasting connections.
  • Family Involvement: We acknowledge the significant role family members play in recovery. At NuView, we involve your loved ones to create a supportive environment conducive to your recovery.

At NuView Treatment Center, we help you overcome not just the effects of marijuana use but also the underlying issues contributing to your addictive behavior.

Don’t let the adverse effects of marijuana and other illicit drug use dictate your life. Take that crucial first step towards reclaiming control. Reach out to NuView Treatment Center today at (323) 307-7997 or send us a message from our contact page and let us guide you on your journey towards recovery. You are more than your addiction. Let’s work together to carve out a path toward a healthier, substance-free future.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, combining marijuana with other drugs can increase the risks of adverse health effects and complicate the addiction treatment process. Mixing substances can heighten the effects of each drug and can lead to unpredictable and potentially dangerous outcomes.

Chronic marijuana abuse can exacerbate existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. It’s also associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, especially in those with a predisposition to such conditions.

Support groups offer a space for people to share experiences, learn from others, and provide mutual encouragement. They serve as a vital resource during recovery, offering practical advice for dealing with cravings and emotional support in moments of struggle.

While the general approach to treatment remains the same—focusing on behavioral therapies, counseling, and support—the intensity and specifics of treatment might differ based on the severity and frequency of use. Heavy, regular users may require more intensive interventions compared to recreational users.

Research on the effects of marijuana on the immune system is still ongoing, but some studies suggest that chronic marijuana use may impair immune system function, making the user more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Marijuana, often labeled as a “gateway drug,” can increase the likelihood of using other illicit drugs, though this isn’t always the case. Factors such as social environment, family history of substance abuse, and individual vulnerability play a significant role.

Rehab centers provide comprehensive treatment programs that combine medication, behavioral therapies, and support groups. They offer personalized care designed to meet the unique needs of each individual, helping them overcome addiction and learn strategies to maintain long-term sobriety.

Yes, many treatment programs, including those at NuView, recognize the critical role family can play in a person’s recovery. Family therapy sessions can be included as part of treatment, helping family members better understand the situation and how they can offer supportive care.

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NIDA. “Is marijuana addictive?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 Apr. 2021, Accessed 30 Jun. 2023.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Mental Health | Health Effects | Marijuana.” CDC, 22 Apr. 2022,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana Research Report. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020,

Penetar, David M et al. “Bupropion reduces some of the symptoms of marihuana withdrawal in chronic marihuana users: a pilot study.” Substance abuse : research and treatment vol. 6 (2012): 63-71. doi:10.4137/SART.S9706

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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