Learn all you need to know about cannabis addiction, rehab, and timelines here, including how to get help.
*This page was medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever in April 2021.
Many people have a misconception that you can’t get addicted to cannabis. Unfortunately, cannabis can be an addictive substance, especially for heavy users. As with most addictions, if you stop taking cannabis, you may experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms. [i] Some symptoms of cannabis withdrawal may be uncomfortable – for example, decreased appetite, nausea, and mood changes.
If you feel as though you may have a cannabis addiction, then it’s important that you get the help you need. Like all drugs, cannabis can begin to take control of your life and have negative physical, mental, social, and even financial effects. At Help4Addiction, we can help you find the right cannabis rehab treatment for you to help you beat the addiction and prevent relapse.
Knowing about cannabis addiction is an important step in recovering and getting the help you need. Read on to learn more about cannabis addiction, the cannabis addiction treatment process, and how we can help you at Help4Addiction. We have treatment centres dotted around England and Wales, so with our help, you’re sure to find the right treatment for you.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a drug that comes from an easily-grown bushy plant. Although you can find hybrid varieties, are three main varieties of cannabis – cannabis Sativa (from the cannabis Sativa plant), cannabis Indica (from the cannabis Indica plant), and cannabis Ruderalis.[ii]
It is often used on a recreational basis as it can leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in the UK, although many countries in Europe have started legalising the drug.
Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK, closely followed by powder cocaine, MDMA, ketamine, and amphetamine.[iii] However, some would argue that the effects of cannabis aren’t as severe as cocaine, ketamine, MDMA, and amphetamines.
Cannabis has many street names and can be known as mary jane, bud, weed, pot, grass, dope, and marijuana. People who consume cannabis may refer to the effects as being ‘high’ or ‘stoned’.
The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is responsible for the key effects that people seek – and is found in the resin produced by the cannabis leaves and cannabis buds (usually the female cannabis plant). As well as THC, cannabis plants contain over 500 chemicals, with over 100 that are related chemically to THC. These are called cannabinoids.
How is Cannabis Consumed?
Cannabis can be consumed in a variety of ways. Although cannabis is typically smoked, it can be mixed into foods, or brewed in tea. Cannabis users will often roll the cannabis into a joint (a cannabis cigarette) or a blunt. However, cannabis can also be smoked through a bong (water pipe) or a pipe.
When mixed with foods, it can often be mixed into butter to make brownies or cookies. It can also be made into a concentrated resin that contains high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient in marijuana. [iv]
Cannabis can also be placed under the tongue in the form of oil or hash oil. However, CBD cannabis oil is legal in the UK – as long as it contains a maximum of 0.2%. [v]
The Effects Of Cannabis
Cannabis can have slightly different effects depending on whether it is smoked or consumed in food and drinks. When cannabis is smoked, the THC and other active chemicals pass from the lungs to the bloodstream, quickly making their way to the brain.
The effects can vary from person to person, but many people feel feelings of calmness and relaxation, laughter (the giggles), increased appetite (the munchies), and a heightened sensory perception (e.g colours appear brighter). Perception of time can also feel different when ‘high’. It is also thought to temporarily relieve stress. [vi]
You may feel completely different effects from somebody using the same amount of cannabis as you – the effects you feel can depend on a variety of factors. For example, the mood you’re in, the type of personality you have, the environment you’re in, and your tolerance to cannabis. [vii] You may have a negative experience even if your friend is having a positive experience.
When smoked, the effects of cannabis can present within a matter of minutes, and last up to a couple of hours. However, when ingested in food and beverages, the effects may not present for between 30 minutes and 90 minutes. The effects tend to peak within three hours, with lasting effects of up to 24 hours. [viii]
Some negative short-term effects of cannabis may include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Feelings of panic
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
The chances of you experiencing negative effects from cannabis tend to increase if you take too much or if you’ve not tried cannabis much before. [ix]
There can also be long term effects of cannabis abuse. Using cannabis frequently for long periods of time can cause impaired coordination and performance.
Cannabis abuse can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health – with some effects being amplified by certain psychosocial and demographic factors. Cannabis abuse can cause and resurface mental health issues and mental illnesses – for example, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and psychotic symptoms, as well as mood disorders.
When cannabis is smoked, it can cause respiratory diseases and lung problems, as well as a nicotine addiction if smoked with tobacco. If you smoke tobacco with cannabis, you can become addicted to nicotine – and experience withdrawal effects from nicotine.
Long-term cannabis use can lead to cannabis use disorders, as well as cannabis withdrawal syndrome when you stop taking the drug. [x]
Cannabis – A Gateway Drug?
Cannabis is considered by many to be a gateway drug – which means that you try cannabis and go on to harder substances such as heroin. Although this is often brushed off as being untrue, statistics do show that people who try cannabis are more likely to go on to try other drugs.
A study that included adults aged 26 or older that tried cannabis under the age of 15 showed that 62% of them went on to use cocaine. 54% of them would go on to use prescription drugs on a recreational basis or abuse prescription drugs, and 9% of them would go on to use heroin at some point. [xi]
Cannabis and Drug Tests
Cannabis can show up on drug tests – with the detection window for just one cannabis cigarette being around three days. However, the detection windows can depend on how frequently you smoke.
For example, if you’ve smoked cannabis for the first time, it may show up on drug tests for three days – but if you smoke every day, then cannabis tests may pick it up in your system for around 30 days (or more!).
There are different types of tests – and the type of test can also determine the detection window. Urine tests can detect cannabis in your urine for anything between three and 30 days after use, whereas saliva tests can only detect cannabis for around 24 hours after use. However, some saliva tests will detect cannabis for up to 72 hours or your last cannabis cigarette. Blood tests only detect THC in your system for up to four hours.
The most sensitive drug test for detecting cannabis is a hair test. Hairs tests can detect THC for around 90 days after use. However, because hair tests are so sensitive, they may occasionally show a false positive. This means that if you come into contact with somebody who smokes cannabis, you could potentially test positive on a hair test. [xii]
Drug Addiction And Drug Abuse Facts
Addiction is considered a brain disease that is characterised by the lack of control over taking a substance, typically to the point where it can be harmful to your physical health and mental health. Although addiction is typically associated with gambling, alcohol, and smoking, it’s also possible to be addicted to cannabis. [xiii]
Addiction can quickly take over someone’s life – especially with drugs and substances such as cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. If you have a heroin addiction, an alcohol addiction, or a cocaine addiction, contact our friendly team at Help4Addiction today.
Although the initial decision to take drugs is usually on a voluntary basis, the level of control can be lost once you develop a dependence on the drug and become addicted. Relapse is often a part of addiction – it’s when you return to drug use while in recovery. This doesn’t mean that the treatment doesn’t work – treatment and recovery is an ongoing process that is different for everybody. [xiv]
Around 30% of cannabis users will develop symptoms that are consistent with cannabis use disorder or cannabis addiction. This typically includes craving cannabis, changes in lifestyle, as well as relationship problems. [xv]
Cannabis addiction or cannabis use disorder is characterised by the inability to stop using cannabis, which usually goes hand in hand with cannabis cravings. People with a cannabis addiction/ marijuana addiction will usually have to smoke or consume more cannabis than usual to feel the same effect, which can lead to them spending more and more money to source cannabis.
Some more symptoms of cannabis addiction may include:
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Cannabis use is affecting relationships (e.g family, romantic, friends)
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Regular and prolonged use of cannabis
- Increased tolerance
- Unable to stop using cannabis despite wanting to
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms when unable to use cannabis
Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms
If you stop smoking or using cannabis, especially if you’re a heavy user (e.g daily cannabis use), you may experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Within a week of cannabis cessation, you may experience:
- Mental health issues/ mental illness (depression, anxiety)
- Anger and irritability
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
Mental health issues can be a particularly debilitating cannabis withdrawal symptom, as can cannabis cravings.
People who are withdrawing or detoxing from cannabis often feel physical withdrawal symptoms such as abdominal pain and headache. These can cause significant distress and can affect social, occupational, and other areas of functioning.
Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within the first 24 hours of the last joint/ blunt/ etc, and peak around the third day. Depending on the intensity of the cannabis addiction, withdrawal symptoms can last for up to two weeks. Naturally, the general rule of thumb is that the stronger the addiction and the more weed consumed, the stronger the withdrawal symptoms. [xvi]
Cannabis Addiction Treatment
Just like you can have an alcohol addiction, a heroin addiction, or a cocaine addiction – you can have a cannabis addiction. If you smoke cannabis or use cannabis on a regular basis, it can be difficult to stop – even if you want to, you may struggle to stop.
It can be difficult to quit any drug alone – but at Help4Addiction, we’re here to help. According to the Office of Applied Statistics, the number of cannabis users seeking treatment has dramatically risen in recent years. This is expected to increase even more as more places legalise cannabis, and as the potency of cannabis increases. [xvii]
Read on to learn more about how Help4Addiction can help you, and all about the cannabis addiction treatment process – from detox to aftercare and recovery. With addiction treatment centres all over England and Wales, we can help you find the right local clinic for you.
The first stage of cannabis addiction rehab is detoxing from cannabis. This can be a particularly difficult process as you may experience strong cannabis cravings as well as unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, know that it is a part of the detox process – and we are here to support you. If you’re a long-term cannabis user, then you may be at greater risk of experiencing unpleasant physical symptoms during marijuana withdrawal.
Most people will choose to get help for cannabis addiction on an outpatient basis. However, we recommend that you chat with an addiction specialist to discuss your treatment options – as treatment on an inpatient basis may be the best option.
However, residential rehab isn’t usually required for cannabis addiction and medical supervision or time in a hospital is very rarely required to manage the withdrawal symptoms.
We offer three detox treatment options – a 7-day program, a 14-day program, and a 28-day program. However, the longer detox treatment options are generally recommended for long-term addiction to hard substances such as heroin.
After successfully detoxing from cannabis, you’ll begin the next stage of cannabis rehab. Cannabis abuse can be tough to overcome, but the negative consequences of prolonged marijuana use make the negative withdrawal effects worth it.
You may be offered behavioural therapy or talking therapy to help you gain an understanding of your thoughts and behaviour. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is common in cannabis rehab as it can help you understand your triggers and why you started using drugs in the first place. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are linked.
As well as CBT, you may be offered group therapy or one-to-one therapy with a counsellor or mental health professional. This can improve your overall well being, as well as decrease the chances of relapse.
Once you have successfully detoxed from cannabis and you’ve received the right therapy, you will continue receiving support to help streamline your recovery and lower the chance of relapse. We want you to have a cannabis-free life, so we don’t just wave goodbye once you’ve completed treatment.
At Help4Addiction, we can help with more than just cannabis/ marijuana addiction. We can help with a variety of addictions, whether it be prescription tablets, heroin addiction, cocaine addiction, ketamine addiction, or many more.
Our qualified addiction counsellors and addiction specialists can assist with a variety of addiction issues – so contact us today to get your life back on track.