SAMHSA Introduces Protocols For Marijuana Treatment Programs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) started its 11th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month by outlining five separate models for treating adolescent marijuana use.
According to SAMHSA data, admissions for marijuana treatment increased by 155 percent between 1993-98. The treatment protocols were used with 600 patients and their families by four separate drug counseling centers. When asked by NORML, a SAMHSA spokesperson estimated that half of the adolescents involved in the programs were sent there by the criminal justice system, in lieu of criminal charges.
“Let there be no doubt that marijuana is addictive,” said H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., CSAT director. “The experts who worked on this project consider it (marijuana) both psychologically and physiologically addictive. Over 52 percent of the youthful marijuana users in this study admitted to enough problems to be considered dependent, including 38 percent reporting physiological tolerance, which is needing more to get the same high, and 16 percent reporting withdrawal symptoms.”
The data presented by Clark differs from previous statements and studies presented by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Academy of Sciences have consistently reported that marijuana withdrawal, tolerance and dependence are the least serious compared to nicotine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol and caffeine.
The treatment programs, which range from 5 out-patient sessions to 12 with four home visits, six parent education group meetings and case management, are said to cost between $105 to $244 per week, depending on the treatment model used.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751. To learn more about the treatment program visit