Cannabis derives from a plant (Cannabis sativa) and comes in many different forms, herbal, resin, powder and oil. It has many names that you may or may not be familiar with including dope, hash, grass, weed and pot, amongst others. Many believe that it is harmless to smoke and that you cannot become addicted to it. But is this the truth?
Is Cannabis Addictive?
Working for Addiction Helper has made me acutely aware that Cannabis addiction is a huge concern for today’s society. I have received many calls from people who have habitually smoked this “harmless” and “non-addictive” recreational drug for many years, who find themselves wanting to give it up but are unable to. Given that cannabis is not meant to be physically addictive, it begs the question – why is it so difficult to stop for so many?
In my view, the effects of Cannabis are psychologically as well as physically addictive. Cannabis is used as a relaxant; it lowers the user’s inhibitions and increases their self-confidence. It produces the effect of the user feeling mellowed and at ease. It can help with sleeplessness and anxiety, temporarily increase libido and make the user feel inspired, talkative and happy. With effects such as these, how can there not be some kind of physical addiction involved as well. Many who have become addicted to Cannabis and try to stop of their own accord, suffer adverse withdrawal effects such as, increased anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, agitation and depression. It stands to reason that if you use a substance to produce positive effects and emotions, the removal of this substance will cause a negative imbalance to the person’s general wellbeing.
There seems to be two schools of thought on the use of Cannabis as a recreational drug, one school may argue that it is a herbal substance that has medicinal properties and is completely harmless. The other school, may argue, that vast sums of money on the NHS have to be spent each year in treating individuals that suffer from Cannabis induced psychosis and paranoia.
The reality is, the more Cannabis you smoke, or the stronger you smoke (i.e. Skunk), the more at risk you could be from addiction and unwanted side effects such as psychosis, schizophrenia and paranoia. Throw in to the mix someone who may be suffering from an underlying mental illness already, and the risk is vastly increased. Skunk, is a very potent form of the drug and is 3 times stronger than Cannabis; its hallucinogenic properties are far greater, and so are the associated risks that it carries. It saddens me that such debilitating mental illnesses can be caused by what is perceived to be a natural and harmless drug, and in many countries has been legalized. Thank fully we at Addiction Helper do recognise that this drug, like so many other recreational drugs, can be harmful and addictive, hence we can provide a treatment program to help with this, as do the vast majority of the rehab clinics that we work with.