Cannabis-Related Disorders Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 23, 2017
  • Author: Lawrence Genen, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
  • Print

Medical Care

Acute intoxication of cannabis usually resolves unremarkably within 4-6 hours and is best managed by the following measures:

  • Frequent reassurance and maintenance of a nonthreatening environment

  • Minimal stimuli

  • Use of a specifically assigned nurse to calm the patient

  • Judicious use of benzodiazepines when significant anxiety is present



People who use marijuana and are suffering from biological, psychological, or social impairment from marijuana use should be evaluated and, if necessary, treated by a psychiatrist.

The treatment of marijuana abuse follows the general principals of substance abuse, with particular attention to psychological and social aspects. Marijuana may be one of many drugs abused, and total abstinence from all psychoactive substances (with the exception of caffeine) is the treatment goal. Interventions may include psychiatric evaluation, occupational and family assessment, and implementation of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Psychological issues (eg, denial, minimization, rationalization) must be confronted. Often, cessation of drug use and subsequent cognitive improvement result in self-motivation and changes in the occupational and social well-being of the patient. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding drug-related situations, may be encouraged.

Identify and address low self-esteem, mood disorders, family problems, and other stresses.

One-to-one therapy, group therapy, and even hospitalization may be necessary components of the treatment plan. (Patients with uncomplicated marijuana use in the absence of other psychiatric or medical problems are rarely hospitalized.)