The Truth About Marijuana Use & Mental Health  Rob Stanley, Registered Psychotherapist 

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Due to legalization, there has been a sharp uptick in marijuana use amongst Canadians. For some marijuana users, this has been a welcome change which has allowed them to improve focus, lower anxiety, and regulate emotions. For other marijuana users though, unfettered access has caused a downturn in their ability to regulate their moods, form cohesive thoughts, and monitor their daily happiness levels.

Now to be clear, the same downsides can be associated with fatty food, sugar, alcohol, anti-depressants, or just about anything else we put into our bodies. Marijuana use is not a stand-alone ‘boogyman’ that we should single out for its potential for harm, but because of its widespread use, it should cause us to look at the issue with a discerning eye.

As a therapist, the central point to note about anything we choose to indulge in whenever or not the substance has become a ‘FREE’ substance in our minds. What I mean by this is, are we partaking of something with absolutely no thought of the negative consequences associated with it.

-If we place chocolate cake in a ‘FREE’ category…then our insulin levels and overall health might eventually become an issue
-If we place red wine in a ‘FREE’ category…then depending upon our genetics and personality, we might find ourselves creating a dependency
-And, if we place marijuana in a ‘FREE’ category…then we might find ourselves with cravings and the inability to regulate normal bodily functions without it

One principle that I often highlight with clients to help them determine whether or not marijuana has become normalized in their bodily functions is to imagine abstaining from the use of it for 7 days. Our reaction to this simple visualization step can help us discern the role that marijuana plays in our life.

Another principle that I share with clients is the idea of ‘conscious smoking.’ This is a technique that’s borrowed from the harm reduction approach to alcohol use where clients are encouraged to become acutely aware of their mental state before they smoke, while they are smoking, and how their life is either improved or lessened by the experience afterward. By adding a level of conscious awareness to marijuana use, clients are better able to evaluate the effects on themselves, and most importantly, remain more in control of their use.

If you or someone you love is facing this, or any other mental health concern, please feel free to reach out to us for professional psychotherapy services. We employ a team of dedicated therapists who are eager to support you using an approach personalized to your specific personality and concerns.

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