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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Marijuana Dependence Treatment: Existing Efficacious Approaches

by Dennis Lee, PhD 5 CE Credits

Marijuana is the most available and widely used illicit psychoactive substance worldwide, with use more than twice that of all other drugs combined, including alcohol.  In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that there are over 15 million marijuana users, of which 4 million experience a cannabis use disorder. Treatment admissions for marijuana abuse/dependence have more than doubled within the last decade and admissions reflect an average of more than 10 years of daily use. These patterns confirm that marijuana abuse is a relevant public health issue not only among young people, but among adults seeking treatment for long-term use as well. This online course will help define the role of mental health professionals in treating marijuana addiction. Specifically, associated problems/symptom constellations, epidemiology, assessment, diagnosis and evidence-based treatment modalities for marijuana dependency/abuse will be discussed. Clinicians will be informed as how to integrate diverse psychosocial treatment regimens into their clinical repertoire and to recognize other therapeutic resources available to complement their care. Taken together, the information presented will enable clinicians to help their patients achieve a better quality of life, including cognitive, social and occupational functioning.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours, ASWB CE clock hours (Substance Abuse), and NYSED CE credit.


Course Sections/Outline:


  • Scope, Prevalence and Relevance
  • Risk Factors Related to Dependency
  • Short and Long-term Effects of Marijuana Use
  • Formal Diagnosis and Treatment Admission Criteria
  • Assessment Measures
  • Treatment Interventions
  • Intervention Efficacy Data
  • Barriers to Treatment and Clinical Issues
  • Clarification of the Treatment Goal: Abstinence or Titration?
  • Future Directions: Medical Marijuana Use, Possession and Legalization
  • Web-Based Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Articulate the scope of marijuana dependence, including etiology, prevalence, effects on the neurotransmitter system, and 4 common risk factors for this disorder.
  • Clinically differentiate between 3 types of users/abusers (casual, chronic and heavy) based on information pertaining to diagnostic criteria, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, comorbidity, medicinal applications and potency over time, including comparative addiction potential and toxicity.
  • Integrate elements from at least 3 evidence-based psychosocial interventions into their clinical work with clients, using 3 possible format modalities (i.e., short-term, group, family).
  • Identify 3 common clinical issues that serve as barriers and/or facilitators to treatment and recognize at least 3 available adjunct resources from pharmacology and structured peer support networks (e.g., NA or Narcotics Anonymous).
  • Discuss current legislation regarding medical use and future directions for focus.