Despite being one of the most commonly used drugs in the UK, cannabis can be addictive. Drug addiction can impact all areas of your life, having negative consequences on your physical health, mental health, finances, family, relationships, and overall well-being.
If you think you or a loved one has a problem with cannabis use, keep reading this page. On this page, we will be exploring cannabis addiction – including the effects of cannabis, signs and symptoms of cannabis addiction and cannabis withdrawal symptoms.
We will also be exploring the ins and outs of cannabis addiction treatment, including detoxification and cannabis rehab. Likewise, we’ll be explaining how our friendly team of addiction experts at Help4Addiction can help you overcome your addiction to cannabis.
Our aim at Help4Addiction is to help you overcome your addiction in the right place – which is why we work to find people the right treatment plans at the right rehab facilities. Continue reading to find out more.
Cannabis is an illicit drug that comes from cannabis plants. Although you can find hybrid varieties, there are three main varieties of the cannabis plant – cannabis Sativa (from the Cannabis Sativa plant), cannabis Indica (from the cannabis Indica plant), and Cannabis Ruderalis.
Marijuana 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 – it is one of the most widely used drugs.
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 when smoking the drug – 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 400 chemicals, with over 100 that are related chemically to THC. These are called cannabinoids.
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Cannabis can have a range of negative effects – it 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.
Cannabis affects many cannabis users’ perception of time. The effects can vary from person to person, depending on a range of factors such as:
This means that you have a different experience from somebody you’re with who is smoking the same cannabis as you – you may have a negative experience despite your friend 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.
Many people notice feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as a heightened sensory perception. For example, colours may appear brighter. Likewise, people may laugh more – this is informally referred to as ‘the giggles’. Some people use cannabis to treat pain due to its calming effects.
It’s important to be aware of the health risks that may occur when you smoke marijuana over time. 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.
At Help4Addiction, we have helped many tobacco smokers overcome their nicotine addiction, and can help you too.
The risk of experiencing unpleasant negative effects generally increases the more you consume cannabis – or if you’ve never tried cannabis before.
Some negative short-term effects of cannabis may include:
There can also be long-term effects of cannabis abuse. Using cannabis frequently for long periods can cause impaired coordination and performance, as well as impaired memory.
Abusing cannabis may also impact your mental health – certain effects being amplified by psychosocial and demographic factors. Consuming cannabis may not only resurface but cause mental health issues and mental illness; for example, anxiety, psychotic symptoms, mood disorders, and suicidal tendencies.
Over time, smoking cannabis can lead to cannabis use disorder and cannabis withdrawal syndrome when you stop taking the drug.
Because cannabis is illegal in the UK, cannabis use is a form of drug abuse. Continue through this page to learn more about cannabis addiction.
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. However, 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.
Cannabis misuse and addiction can have a negative impact on your life; but is marijuana addictive?
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.
Frequent cannabis use can lead to you developing a tolerance to the drug, as well as a psychological addiction.
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. It can also impact your finances – you may experience financial difficulty trying to source cannabis.
Ultimately, cannabis addiction is characterised by the lack of control over taking cannabis. If you are addicted to cannabis, you may struggle to stop smoking it.
If you think that cannabis use is taking over your life, we can help. Continue reading to learn more.
There are several signs to look out for that could indicate you have a cannabis addiction – the key sign being that you are unable to control your cannabis use. You may have the desire to control or cease your cannabis use, but have trouble doing so, or end up relapsing.
You may also notice a loss of interest in activities and hobbies you once enjoyed, or experience problems concentrating on everyday activities and tasks. This can impact performance at work, and cause other difficulties in your day-to-day life.
Marijuana abuse can also impact relationships, whether it be with family, friends, or romantic relationships. Other symptoms of cannabis addiction may include an increased tolerance, excessive cannabis use, withdrawal symptoms, as well as impacted mental health.
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. This may include a range of psychological symptoms and physical symptoms.
Within a week of cannabis cessation, you may experience restlessness, anger and irritability, as well as loss of appetite and weight loss. Cannabis withdrawal can also negatively affect your mental health – you may experience depression or anxiety.
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. The general rule of thumb is that the stronger the addiction and the more ‘weed’ consumed, the stronger the withdrawal symptoms.
Drug addiction can be difficult to overcome, especially without the right treatment. At Help4Addiction, we believe everybody should receive the treatment they need to overcome their addiction and live a sober life.
Knowing what to expect from treatment can make the process less daunting and overwhelming. The first decision you should make is whether you wish to undergo cannabis rehab on an inpatient basis or an outpatient basis.
Many people have successfully overcome their cannabis addictions on an outpatient basis, but others feel more comfortable undergoing residential rehab. As an inpatient, you will reside in a rehab facility, with your meals and accommodation provided as part of the cost of rehab.
The first stage of cannabis addiction treatment involves detoxing from the drug. This can be a particularly difficult process as you may experience strong cannabis cravings as well as a range of unpleasant or uncomfortable 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 option – as addiction 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.
At Help4Addiction, we can source a range of cannabis detox treatment options for you- whether you need a 7-day program, a 14-day program, or a 28-day program. That being said, 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 addiction treatment. Cannabis abuse and addiction 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.
Different rehab clinics will offer different therapies. 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.
The treatment and support you receive don’t have to end once you leave the gates of rehab. You may be worried about returning to cannabis use after leaving rehab, which is why most rehab centres offer secondary treatment – also known as aftercare. But what exactly is secondary treatment?
Secondary treatment essentially refers to ongoing support on an outpatient basis. This may include telephone support, online support, continued therapy or counselling.
Many people find support groups helpful too – engaging with other individuals in recovery can be encouraging and motivating, helping you stay on track.
At Help4Addiction, we understand the difficulties that people face when dealing with addiction to cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs. This is why we have spent years helping people with addiction receive the treatment they need.
We can help you get your cannabis use under control and live a sober life. We are connected with treatment centres all around England and Wales.
Whether you’re looking for a luxury rehab clinic, private rehab, or NHS-operated rehab, we can find the right place for you to receive ‘weed’ addiction treatment.
During our initial discussion, we will talk about your preferences and requirements, and outline the best options available to you. For example, you may wish to undergo rehab on an outpatient basis, or you may be better suited to residential rehab/ inpatient rehab.
Contact our experts today to get the ball rolling on your recovery journey. Remember, nobody should deal with cannabis addiction alone; we are here to support you.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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