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Marijuana Addiction in Coronavirus Times

Editorial Oversight by Brian Canfield, Ed.D.

Across the globe, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has presented a host of unprecedented challenges and disruptions to our previous patterns of daily life. In almost every sense, our definitions of normal have been turned upside down. Only recently have we begun to see a clear path to end the pandemic and its disruptions of our ways of life. For many, maybe yourself included, it can feel like there is no hope on the horizon. COVID-19 has been contributing to feelings of stress, hopelessness, and isolation. Others are suffering from depression because they’re out of work, worried about becoming ill, or sheltering in place alone. In these times, many people are turning to marijuana as a coping mechanism.

Increase in Substance Abuse During Disasters and Emergencies

There’s a reason for how widespread disasters and states of emergency fuel substance use. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been on a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from adrenaline to fear, grief, and anger. As the initial shock of the pandemic wears off, you may even begin to develop a sense of apathy as the days drag on. We desire a way to relieve these overwhelming emotions, and for many, marijuana provides that escape.

But as we’ve seen, to get the same level of relief over time, a person must consume more drugs, leading to both physical and mental dependence. So, long after the emergency has passed, the need to self-medicate can remain, and may even increase over time.

Numbers back increasing marijuana use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s easy to see how the buildup of stress leads to a desire to self-medicate. One study of 1,054 adolescents in Canada found that the percentage of users for most substances decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic—notably, however, the percentage of marijuana and alcohol users increased significantly (Dumas, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2020).

Again, this is likely reflective of more opportunities to use marijuana in the post-pandemic world, not to mention the added emotional burdens we continue to grapple with as pandemic wears on.

Getting Help

If you have found yourself using marijuana more and more amidst the uncertainty and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, recognize that you are not alone. Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of individuals are grappling with the disappointments and frustrations of our current world.

Even so, there is hope, and finding healthy, sustainable coping strategies during these uncertain times is the best way to ensure that, when COVID-19 is a story of the past, you emerge ready take on the joys and challenges of normal life. If you’ve fallen to using marijuana as a way to blunt your current anxieties, realize that this strategy has its limits. Acknowledging that your marijuana habit has reached an unhealthy level is the first step towards getting help with cessation and making healthier choices in your life.

If you’re interested in taking steps towards quitting or cutting down, check out The Weedless Guide or the section on marijuana addiction treatment. And remember, throughout all of this–you are one of many people having a difficult time this year, and we’re right here with you. Please remember to stay safe and stay strong.