The Truth About Marijuana & Mental Health
Following changes in Canadian law, there has been an increase in marijuana use amongst Canadians. For some, this has been a welcome change that has allowed them to improve focus, lower anxiety, and better regulate their emotions. For others though, unregulated access to marijuana has caused a downturn in mood, thinking, and daily happiness levels.
It should be said that same effects can be associated with excessive use of almost anything: fatty food, sugar, alcohol, or just about anything else we put into our bodies. Marijuana use is not a ‘boogeyman’ that we should single out for its potential for harm.
Coming from the point of view as a therapist, the important thing to note is whether a substance has become a ‘FREE’ substance in the thinking of the user. What this means is, are people using something with no thought of the consequences or possible dependency associated with it?
One principle that I often highlight with clients to help determine whether or not their marijuana use has become habitual is to imagine abstaining from it for a period of time (say for a week, or a month). How does the idea of that feel? Does the thought prove anxiety, even as you ponder it? That might indicate that you have developed a dependency.
Another concept I share with clients is the idea of ‘conscious smoking.’ This is a harm reduction technique where people are encouraged to become aware of their mind and body before they smoke, while they are smoking, and how they are impacted afterward. By adding this kind of awareness, clients are better able to evaluate the effects and remain in control of their marijuana use.