Some recovered individuals wonder if smoking pot after completing drug or alcohol addiction treatment will lead to relapse. For many, pot is considered a “soft” drug, and it’s easy to rationalize away marijuana use—especially if it was not your drug of choice to begin with. However, even a single use of marijuana can lead to relapse into drug or alcohol addiction—largely because it indicates incomplete recovery took place during the addiction rehab process. In fact, a recent study shows that people who smoke pot are more likely to relapse with first year after treatment than those who do not. If you find yourself smoking pot after undergoing alcohol or drug addiction treatment, it is important to seek out further addiction help so you can root out any unresolved issues in order to prevent full-blown relapse.
Chemical Imbalances and Marijuana
Smoking marijuana after drug or alcohol treatment may indicate the presence of a lingering chemical imbalance in the body. Drugs by nature alter the chemical balance of brain chemicals—known as neurotransmitters—in our bodies. As such, feeling a physical urge to escape with marijuana may indicate that a biochemical imbalance was overlooked during your first treatment endeavor at your drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility. Additionally, marijuana use itself can further alter brain chemistry and disrupt neurochemicals responsible for facilitating communication in the brain that help to regulate everything from memory, thought, and feelings. The lingering effects of marijuana on the brain can lead to further feelings of emptiness, anger, lack of focus, or depression, causing the urge to escape again with more pot smoking.
Masking Unresolved Root Causes
Beyond the chemical changes that marijuana can induce, smoking pot after drug or alcohol recovery can indicate problems that are more emotional or psychological in nature. While marijuana is not thought of as a highly physically addictive drug, it has been widely recognized as psychologically addictive. Like other drug or alcohol addictions, there is often a root cause that leads us to use in the first place.
Even after recovery, some people turn to pot smoking to avoid intrusive thoughts, reminders of past traumas, or low self esteem. Others use marijuana to mitigate anxiety and tension, or to escape emptiness or loneliness. Pot use only serves to evade these issues, which naturally worsen over time. When addiction issues have been fully resolved in drug or alcohol addiction rehab, the need to escape with any substance should be eliminated. Any desire to smoke pot in the time after recovery indicates that inpatient drug or alcohol counseling failed to reach and resolve the underlying emotional issues that needed healing most.