Cannabis and Coronavirus: When a Habit Becomes an Addiction

Although marijuana has become more accepted in society, we should not ignore the damages it can cause in the lives of those who use it. This current pandemic has exacerbated many mental health problems, and those seeking to solve those issues through self-medication may do themselves more harm than good. Keep reading to learn more about why marijuana use surged throughout the pandemic and how marijuana detox and recovery can look.


These days, marijuana appears to be gaining a better reputation. Many people argue for its medical benefits, and when compared to alcohol or tobacco, the damages caused by marijuana at first seem negligible. It’s also true that CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, is being used more and more to treat illnesses ranging from anxiety to cancer. 


During the pandemic, marijuana use has increased. Some states have seen a 20% spike in sales, and the number of sales increases even more when including edibles. Many seem to think that this increase happened when people planned to hunker down at home for several weeks. People bought toilet paper, food, and many included cannabis on their list of essential items.


Marijuana has been traditionally a drug used in a relaxed setting, mostly used privately at home, both for legal reasons and for the high it offers. Because the pandemic calls for people to stay at home and to social distance, for many, it was the perfect moment to take a step back and relax with the help of marijuana. 


However, marijuana use during the pandemic is not healthy and carefree. Although some substances cause more physical damage, it’s still important to talk frankly about marijuana use during the pandemic, why people might use it and how it can affect your mental health. 

Marijuana is Still Addictive

The first point we have to make is that although many states have decriminalized and even legalized marijuana, this does not mean that it is not dangerous. While even the stigma surrounding marijuana has lifted in many parts of the country, there are still potential negative effects of prolonged marijuana use. Those who thought marijuana could play the role of short-term relief during the pandemic may find themselves with lasting impacts. 


For instance, using marijuana to curb the symptoms of mood disorders like anxiety and depression is a common form of self-medication. This pattern is consistent with other types of addiction, where we turn to alcohol or other drugs in times of high stress and anxiety to numb and dissociate from what we’re experiencing. 


Eventually, this repeated behavior leads to addiction, which then requires substance abuse treatment to quit. Marijuana might not be as physically addictive as other drugs like alcohol, but there is enough evidence to claim that marijuana creates a psychological addiction. Here, self-medication patterns become cemented. Those who turn to marijuana to cope with mental health problems never address or heal the underlying issues and must always rely on the drug as a means for escape. 


Furthermore, while perhaps not as prevalent as after-school specials might make you think, marijuana can still act as a gateway drug. It can lead people to more dangerous substances to cope with the acute pangs of anxiety, depression or any underlying trauma or co-occurring mental health concern.


Quick Facts:

  • 1 in 10 people become addicted to marijuana
  • 17% of young people who smoke marijuana become addicted
  • Those who use marijuana at an early age often experience cognitive impairment

Increased Risk

When it comes to the pandemic, marijuana users might be in for a rough awakening as well. While studies are trying to show a positive connection between marijuana and COVID recoveries, the evidence is scant. 


There is, however, some evidence to suggest that marijuana might make people more susceptible to the virus. A recent study found a correlation between cannabis and an increased risk of becoming infected with the disease. The research also shows that people who smoke have a 14% higher risk for pneumonia and are 14% more likely to develop a severe or deadly COVID-19 infection. In other words, this form of self-medication can actually make the pandemic’s effects worse. 

Creating Dependence

As we have mentioned above, marijuana is popular as a form of self-medication for mood disorders like anxiety or depression. During the pandemic, everyone experienced a wave of anxiety and stress, putting a strain on our mental health. People reported overwhelming real-life stressors, such as uncertainties about health and safety, fear of infection, uncertain job status, financial worries, and general anxiety about the future. 


Those who live alone felt these symptoms even more severely because isolation is a powerful factor contributing to mental health and substance abuse problems. Understandably, many people flocked toward marijuana to help them relax and ease their anxiety. 


Even marijuana use that starts as a benefit like helping  you fall asleep can later lead to issues. After prolonged use of marijuana as a sleeping aid, stopping can cause changes in REM sleep, increased sleep disruption, and a lengthening of the time it takes to fall asleep. 


Others may use marijuana to enjoy chores or activities more during the quarantine. Over time, as you build tolerance, smoking can become almost meaningless and not be as powerful when it comes to blocking anxiety or depression. Even though it might help in the short-term, it might be hurting you in the long-run.

Withdrawal from Marijuana

While marijuana detox may not be as dangerous as it can be with other drugs, you will still experience withdrawal symptoms. 


These include:

Psychological Symptoms Medical Symptoms



Lack of concentration or focus

Mood changes


Headaches or dizziness

Elevated heart rate

Sweating or chills

Muscle tension or aches

Nausea or vomiting


These symptoms can range from mild to more severe, and they vary from person to person. They may not be serious or dangerous, but they can be unpleasant. The longer a person uses marijuana, the more likely they are to experience withdrawal symptoms. 


What Makes A Successful Marijuana Detox?

At Washburn House, we can help you complete marijuana detox successfully. We offer 24/7 monitoring, medication-assisted treatment, and comfortable facilities. We also provide holistic treatment to help you with discomfort and soreness.


We help you detox in a way that encourages a successful long-term recovery. Marijuana detox begins with clearing the body of the effects of the substance. With marijuana especially, this can be a drawn-out process, as THC, the psychoactive component, stays in your body long after you have stopped using it. For daily users, traces of marijuana can still be detected in your system for several months after the last use.


While your detox experience will not necessarily last for as long as you test positive on a drug screen, the length of your stay is determined by your history, frequency and length of use. Treatment recommendations are made based on the underlying patterns that fuel the addictive cycle.  


Detox continues with a regimen created to bring your body back to a healthy state. Exercise, diet and hydration play a key role during detox. For instance, cardio can help increase the rate at which your body can release stored THC metabolites. 


During a marijuana detox program, your body cleanses the toxins out of your system as it readjusts to being without the substance. 

What Happens After Marijuana Detox?

After detox, the work of recovery is not necessarily over. For those who used marijuana daily in higher doses, detox represents a new beginning, and the post-detox treatment gives you the support and information you’ll need to avoid relapse. 


At Washburn House, we rely on effective treatments and will help support you in the long-term, which is why treatment with us is both evidence-based and holistic. 

Evidence-Based Treatment

Evidence-based addiction treatment will typically include talk therapy, either during individual counseling sessions or in group therapy for addiction. You will spend time talking through the patterns that led you to self-medicate and discover solutions that address your addiction and any mental health needs. 


Some examples of evidence-based treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy or psychotherapy. At our Worcester, Massachusetts location, we will match you with a therapist specially trained in these modalities, which will help you look inward, identify barriers and plan a course forward. 

Holistic Treatment

When considering recovery from marijuana addiction, holistic treatment is necessary to find healing for each part of you. Working from a holistic framework helps you address and improve different areas of your life. For example, if you once used marijuana to help you fall asleep at night, a portion of treatment will be discovering new ways and developing the skills needed to get a good night’s rest. 


You may also address things like nutrition, finances, physical health, social skills or the ability to focus/concentrate. Holistic treatment can also include yoga, meditation, exercise or engaging in recreational activities to help fill your time with positive actions.

Aftercare Treatment

Once you complete detox and rehab, you may want to continue to receive treatment and support. At Washburn House, we offer a wide range of aftercare options to those in the surrounding community here in Worcester, Massachusetts, such as 12-step programs, support groups, and membership into our alumni network. Many of our programs are also now available online through virtual meetings held on our zoom platform.

Marijuana Detox at Washburn House

We at Washburn House can help you take the first step toward long-term addiction recovery. We provide a more effective solution than quitting drugs or alcohol on your own. We have the facilities, treatment programs, and experienced staff to help you get through your withdrawal symptoms and understand why you can’t break the habit on your own. 


Once you complete marijuana detox at Washburn House, you will be ready to enter into rehab and on to recovery. At our detox center in Worcester, Massachusetts, you can feel confident that you will receive first-rate care. Compassionate treatment professionals use a various treatment methods to give you all the support you need to find lasting recovery. Contact us now, and begin the first step to recovery today!

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