Cannabis is one of the more popular recreational drugs because it is considered not to be highly addictive. However, not highly addictive does not mean non-addictive. It has been estimated that as many as 10% of all regular cannabis users are either abusers or addicts. Even abusers can suffer from a less severe condition known as marijuana use disorder.
Most cannabis users are able to stop using the drug as easily as they would stop drinking coffee or eating chocolate. Some don’t have it that easy. If you find yourself struggling with cannabis to the point that you cannot stop, you may already be addicted. We can help. An Addiction Helper counsellor can walk you through the details of cannabis abuse and help you find a treatment programme in your local area.
What You Need to Know about Cannabis
Cannabis, or marijuana as it’s also known, comes from the hemp plant. It is normally used by means of smoking it in a pipe or as a cigarette. However, marijuana can also be mixed into food or hot drinks. More concentrated forms of cannabis exist (think hashish) that can also be smoked or ingested.
Using cannabis results in an intoxicating high, not unlike the feeling you get from drinking excessively. And while cannabis is not highly addictive physically, the intoxicating high it produces makes it is a very good candidate for psychological addiction. A person who is psychologically dependent is someone whose mind depends on the drug as a primary source of pleasure.
Marijuana works by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for a number of things including memory, concentration, motor movements, and feelings of pleasure. Cannabis is often the first drug a person will use on the way to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
A marijuana addiction can be harder to spot than other kinds of addictions because of a lack of physical dependence in some cases. Nonetheless, the signs and symptoms will eventually manifest themselves if persistent use of cannabis continues over an extended period of time. Among the most common signs and symptoms are the following:
- Using marijuana is no longer ‘fun’; it has become a necessity
- Marijuana use determines friendships and social interactions
- Using marijuana as a means of escaping problems
- Marijuana use is a means of avoiding negative feelings
- A tendency to use marijuana alone
- A tendency to live in one’s own, private world (psychologically)
- A tendency to plan one’s day around marijuana use
- Anxiety or irritability when marijuana supplies run low
- And inability to imagine living without access to marijuana
- Routine complaints from family members or friends regarding marijuana use.
Exhibiting one or two of the symptoms could indicate you have a problem with cannabis. If you exhibit three or more, it is important that you undergo an evaluation to determine whether you are addicted. If you are, you need treatment to get well.
Long-Term Consequences of Cannabis Use
Modern society has had a difficult time convincing cannabis users to stop because there is a persistent misconception that using the drug is harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marijuana may be less harmful compared to crack or meth, but it is not completely harmless. Every psychoactive substance impacts the brain and the rest of the body to some degree. The damage done can be permanent if cannabis use is allowed to persist.
Some of the long-term consequences of persistent cannabis use include:
- Mental Illness – Long-term use of marijuana can lead to a number of mental illnesses including clinical anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even schizophrenia.
Cognitive Impairment – Long-term use can cause physical damage to the brain, resulting in cognitive impairment. Marijuana users can suffer from memory problems, an inability to concentrate, and even bouts of confusion.
Physical Damage – Other parts of the body are affected by long-term cannabis use as well. People who use the drug are prone to respiratory problems, hypertension, lung disease, and loss of sexual function.
For many marijuana users, it comes down to a question of risk versus reward. Are the risks of long-term cannabis use serious enough that they make the short term rewards not worth it? We would say yes. We have worked with enough cannabis users to know that those who develop a dependence on the drug regret having allowed it to take over their lives.
One last point about the dangers of cannabis use before we move on: the use of marijuana recreationally leads to many of the same kinds of societal and cultural problems linked to alcohol. Drug driving is but one example. Marijuana is not as harmless as people make it out to be. Use of the drug leads to all sorts of injuries, property damage, relationship problems, etc.
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
When both physical and psychological dependence exists, a patient will need to undergo detox in order to fully recover. Detox should always be undertaken in a medically supervised setting in order to protect against injuries that may result through withdrawal symptoms. In cases where only psychological dependence is observed, patients can skip detox and move right into rehabilitative counselling.
Rehabilitative counselling can run from 3 to 12 weeks, depending on the seriousness of the situation. Counselling therapies are often combined with other kinds of things including support group participation, exercise, and skills building sessions. The ultimate goal is to help the patient reach a place where marijuana is no longer needed to enjoy a happy and productive life.
One of our jobs and Addiction Helper is to keep track of all of the treatment options throughout the UK. When you contact us for help, we walk you through your treatment options. We will do whatever we can within the scope of our mission to ensure you get the treatment you need. If you are struggling with cannabis, contact us right now.