You are here

Cannabis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Submitted by pesejab228 on Wed, 11/29/2023 - 05:39

Cannabis use can lead to numerous difficulties, including impaired cognitive function, social distancing and issues at school or work. Furthermore, cannabis can aggravate existing mental health conditions like anxiety disorders.

Studies of adults seeking treatment for anxiety revealed that regular marijuana users had poorer cognitive behavioral therapy outcomes compared to non-users, yet still saw substantial reduction in anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety can be defined as the sensation of worry, tension or fear that causes physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat and sweating. Anxiety disorders may also impede sleep, eating and concentration habits as well as increase drug and alcohol abuse risk and make treatment harder to access for other medical issues.

Many people with anxiety turn to cannabis to alleviate their symptoms. Studies indicate that both THC and CBD components of marijuana, which comprise its two components, can provide some relief; however it's essential that people speaking to healthcare providers first before considering this as a treatment solution for anxiety.

Researchers are conducting an investigation to understand if cannabis use alters cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) outcomes. They will compare motivation enhancement therapy combined with CBT with integrated cannabis and anxiety reduction treatment, known as ACCT for those living with chronic cannabis use disorder and anxiety disorder symptoms. Outcome measures will include cannabis consumption, cannabis-related problems and quality of life metrics as well as anxiety disorder symptoms and any outcomes of psychotherapy that differ based on whether participants with elevated anxiety levels experience better or worse results than those without elevated anxiety levels.

Depression is an all-too-common mental health condition that can be treated using medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, while some report using cannabis to alleviate their symptoms of depression; however, there is very limited research on this subject.

Cannabis may help treat depression and anxiety; however, not everyone finds success using it as treatment. There may be side effects such as changes to appetite or mood as well as interference with antidepressant or other medications being taken for these conditions.

Gates et al conducted a randomized controlled trial comparing nine 1-hour MI/CBT sessions delivered either by therapist or computer to a control group and found better outcomes among those suffering depression and cannabis use disorder (CUD). MI/CBT treatment also had lower cannabis use than CBT alone, as well as greater chances of remission from depression at 1-year follow up. This randomized controlled trial involved nine 1-hour sessions of MI/CBT delivered via either therapy provider or computer for one group (a control).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is characterized by cycles of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that negatively impact daily living. Affecting about 2-3% of the population, this mental health condition can be treated through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Unfortunately, one-third of those taking these SSRI medications don't see significant improvement with them reducing symptoms significantly.

Cannabis contains natural compounds that produce chemicals similar to serotonin. Furthermore, cannabis also possesses anti-anxiety effects and can calm racing thoughts that contribute to anxiety. Furthermore, CBD can help mitigate any side effects caused by other medications used for OCD treatment.

A recent study examined how cannabis use affected outcomes of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders. This research included 253 adults who self-reported their cannabis consumption; these participants were divided into non-users, infrequent users and frequent users and completed weekly symptom assessments during CBT.

Studies have established a clear link between trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) such as cannabis use disorder in general and cannabis specifically use disorder. Unfortunately, few studies have evaluated cannabis as an adjunctive therapy alongside traditional psychotherapies and pharmaceutical agents for treating co-occurring PTSD and SUD conditions.

Low quality evidence from observational studies demonstrates that cannabis use may help alleviate PTSD symptoms, improve quality of life and function, reduce substance abuse, and lead to reduced adverse effects and dropout rates. Adverse effects and dropout rates tend to be minimal.

Patients new to cannabis typically start off on a CBD only product at a very low dosage and slowly increase over the course of one month until reaching an effective relief dose with minimal side effects. Tinctures tend to work best since they offer long duration of action and easy adjustment options.