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Marijuana Abuse Responds to Psychotherapy, Overall Is Hard to Treat

entions, especially CBT. Among these:

--In the study of 450 users that showed the greatest benefit of CBT, marijuana use was lower for those who received sessions of CBT or MET, and at four months, 22.4 percent of those in one-on-one CBT intervention had been abstinent for the previous 90 days compared with 8.6 percent of those treated with MET.

--Another study of 212 users showed those who received CBT or social support had a reduction in marijuana use throughout the post-treatment follow-up period and at 12 months; about 14 percent reported abstinence from marijuana use and 19 percent reported use at 50 percent or less of their pretreatment levels.

--A smaller CBT-MET study rewarded users for staying clean. Some of the 60 participants received vouchers exchangeable for retail items contingent on them submitting negative urine specimens. However, results showed no clear benefit with either treatment, although participants who received vouchers were more abstinent than those who did not.

CBT emphasizes the role of how people think, rather than external influences, in causing negative feelings and behavior, and encourage patients to make positive changes. MET seeks to enhance motivation for behavior change by working with and resolving ambivalence, while family therapy focuses on changing the interaction patterns within a patient’s entire family.

New drug therapies may be needed to help abusers who don’t respond to psychotherapy, according Auriacombe.

“The high relapse rate and number of cannabis dependent individuals suggests the importance of developing pharmacotherapies for patients who may be less responsive to other treatments,” Auriacombe said. “In general, the problem in treating cannabis-dependent individuals has been less that of treating and more of preventing relapse.”

In terms of the improving low abstinence rates, Auriacombe said, “Alcohol research has suggested that the
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