TeenHealthFX agrees that you most likely have been self-medicating with the marijuana. Many people who use drugs like alcohol or marijuana are self-medicating. Whether they are using their drug of choice to mellow out their anger, elevate a depressed mood, escape from difficult stressors, or whatever else – the drug is used because it serves some purpose. The problem is that while the user may feel it helps in some area, there is also a terrible price to pay. The use of alcohol and drugs can negatively impact physical health, emotional health, school performance, job performance, family and friend relationships, and more – and it is the time in which the price to pay becomes so terrible that a person usually seeks out help.
It sounds like you feel clear why you depend on the marijuana in terms of your depression, but that the cons to the drug use are becoming so overwhelmingly problematic. But FX hears that you feel in a dilmma between staying with the drug and all the negative side-effects versus ridding yourself of the drug and dealing with some tough emotional states.
FX thinks that it is important for you to speak with a mental health professional about your concerns about stopping your marijuana use and where that will leave you as far as feeling depressed or suicidal. It is important for you to feel there is a plan in place for you in terms of dealing with the depression and suicidal ideation if you are not using pot. It does sound like rehab is where you need to be – so that you have safe environment and constant access to mental health providers while you are free from marijuana. But whether this plan is implemented or another plan is put into place, it is important that some kind of treatment plan be arranged between yourself, your parents/guardians, and a treatment professional.
FX also recommends that you speak to a treatment provider about your concerns about medication. You clearly have concerns about the side-effects of psychotropic medications, however, your preference seems to be to deal with the negative effect of the marijuana than to try and deal with the psychotropic medications. While FX can appreciate that people can have concerns about taking psychotropic drugs, it would be important and helpful for you to explore your preference of marijuana to medication given that your marijuana use is not exactly side-effect free.
For more information on marijuana, including how marijuana affects the brain, emotional well-being, and overall physical health, please go to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) webpage NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana. Also consider the following information taken from this webpage:
Marijuana and Mental Health
A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be a factor, where early use is a marker of vulnerability to later problems. However, at this time, it not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them, or is used in attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence. Chronic marijuana use, especially in a very young person, may also be a marker of risk for mental illnesses, including addiction, stemming from genetic or environmental vulnerabilities, such as early exposure to stress or violence. At the present time, the strongest evidence links marijuana use and schizophrenia and/or related disorders. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction; in addition, use of the drug may trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.
Researchers are testing different ways to help marijuana users abstain from drug use. Currently, no medications exist for treating marijuana addiction. Treatment programs focus on behavioral therapies. A number of programs are designed specifically to help teenagers who are abusers.
When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using marijuana, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also some resources that are anonymous—for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don’t just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect a caller with a professional close by. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) [http://www.samhsa.gov/centers/csat2002/csat_frame.html] offers a National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service that provides free and confidential information on hotlines and counseling services. CSAT's toll-free phone number is 1-800-662-4357; treatment centers by state can also be located at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
If you get to the point that you are seriously considering suicide or are afraid of your impulses then you need to seek help immediately. You can call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. In northern New Jersey you can also call the crisis hotline from Morristown Memorial hospital at 973-540-0100. Outside this area call the Suicide & Crisis Hotline, 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
You can also contact the National Institute on Drug Abuse & Alcoholism, 1-888-644-6432.