Cannabis Addiction – Symptoms, Side Effects, How to Get Treatment & Rehab


Help4Addiction is experienced in identifying the best possible treatment for cannabis addiction. There are a range of reasons why someone may be relying on cannabis use so we offer a range of treatments to help you kick the habit.

3ps-consultation Cannabis Addiction - Symptoms, Side Effects, How to Get Treatment & Rehab

Battling any kind of drug addiction can be mentally and physically draining. If you’re concerned that you have become addicted to cannabis, or you’re worried about a friend or a relative, you’re not alone. The sooner you seek help and advice, the better. At Help4Addiction, we provide tailored advice to help you access services and drug addiction treatment in your local area. Our free helpline is there to support individuals and families struggling to cope with the impact of cannabis addiction. If you need to talk, or you’re looking for information about cannabis addiction treatment options, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0203 955 7700 to speak to one of our experts.


What exactly is cannabis?

Before we talk about cannabis addiction, it’s useful to identify exactly what cannabis and how come cannabis can become addictive. Cannabis is a drug, which is derived from plants. It contains a number of compounds, but the most significant in terms of addiction is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is different to cannabidiol, or CBD, which is often known as medical marijuana. THC is responsible for the ‘high’ you experience when you consume cannabis. Cannabis is known by many names, including:

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Marijuana
  • Hash
  • Herb
  • Skunk
  • Bud
  • Ganja


Most people smoke cannabis, but it’s also possible to inhale it through a bong or to consume it through edible products, like cakes and brownies that contain hash. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular to vape cannabis.


Is cannabis addictive?

Many people question whether cannabis is addictive because it doesn’t seem to take hold of people in the same way as other drugs. Research suggests that around 10% of people who consume cannabis on a regular basis will become addicted. If you’ve smoked weed for a long time, and you started in your childhood years, the risk is higher. Around 1 in 6 people who start smoking cannabis in their teenage years will develop a cannabis addiction. Some people dabble with cannabis, and not everyone will get addicted to it, but it is important to realise that cannabis addiction is a real issue.


Why is cannabis addictive?

Your body and your mind can start to crave the euphoric or relaxed feeling achieved by consuming cannabis, and studies also suggest that the body suffers withdrawal symptoms when exposure to THC is ceased suddenly. Addictions can affect anyone, and a casual habit can quickly develop into something more dangerous and long-term. As your body becomes accustomed to cannabis, you may find that your tolerance increases, and you need to smoke or inhale more to achieve the same effects. If you crave the feeling cannabis gives you, or you experience physical urges to continue taking drugs despite the fact that you know that they are harming your health and wellbeing, this is indicative of an addiction.

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Cannabis addictive properties

Often, when people smoke weed or inhale cannabis, they assume that they won’t become addicted, but cannabis does possess addictive properties. It’s common to compare different types of drugs, and while cannabis may not seem as threatening as drugs like cocaine and heroin, it is crucial to understand that it can become addictive. This is largely due to the presence of THC, which impacts the body and mind in several ways. One consequence of smoking cannabis is increased dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical, which is found in the brain. Dopamine is often associated with feeling happy and content. If your body starts to connect cannabis with dopamine, you’ll start to crave that feeling more intensely. As your tolerance levels rise, you’ll need to consume more cannabis to achieve the same feelings, and your intake will probably increase.


Cannabis addiction

Cannabis is often considered in a different realm to ‘harder’ drugs, but research suggests that it can contribute to addiction. Addiction is not the same as a casual habit, and it is characterised by strong urges and a compulsion to continue to do something even when you know that it isn’t good for your health, your wellbeing, your financial situation, your relationships and your career. Any kind of addiction can take its toll on your health, as well as your quality of life. Cannabis addiction occurs when an individual is driven to take drugs by physical and psychological urges. If you’re an addict, drugs take over your life, and everything else seems to take a backseat. Even if you care deeply about your family, or you want to climb the ladder at work, you’ll find yourself putting drugs first.


When talking about cannabis addiction, it’s useful to explore different aspects of addiction, including physiological and psychological effects. When you have a physical addiction, you experience symptoms or effects as a result of your body being used to cannabis consumption. If your body is continually exposed to cannabis, this can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking drugs. Psychological effects impact your mind and your emotions and feelings. With cannabis, you start to long for the sense of contentment or the euphoric high you experience when you smoke a joint or inhale cannabis. This is due to the chemical properties of THC and the elevated levels of dopamine in your brain. Psychological symptoms of addiction can be difficult to quell, even after detox treatment, and often, long-term therapy is recommended.


What causes cannabis addiction?

There is no universal cause of cannabis addiction, but there are often factors that elevate the risk of several types of addiction. Cannabis addiction may be linked to:


If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you might find that smoking cannabis makes you feel better. You may feel more relaxed and at ease, or you may thrive on that temporary sense of contentment that cannabis gives you. In the short-term, you may feel that cannabis enables you to get through tough days at work or social situations that would otherwise make you feel anxious, but in the long-term, relying on cannabis is only going to make the symptoms of mental health illnesses worse. Cannabis can become a crutch for those who struggle with their mental health, and this can put people at greater risk of addiction.


  • Traumatic or stressful life events

Sometimes, life can throw up curveballs that are difficult to process, come to terms with or overcome. If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re experiencing money troubles, you’ve broken up with a partner or lost contact with your family, or you’re facing unemployment, you might turn to cannabis as a coping mechanism. If you’re upset, you’re anxious, or you’re agitated or restless, you might think that cannabis is a remedy that will help you to relax and feel more comfortable. The truth is that life can be incredibly difficult and cruel sometimes, but relying on cannabis is likely to cause more harm than good. What starts as a single joint in the evening after a long day can spiral into something much more intense and overpowering.


  • Genetics

Genetics can play a role in addiction. If you have a close relative who has experienced drug addiction, you may have a higher risk of developing an addiction yourself. Some people have more addictive personalities than others, and this can put them at greater risk of drug addiction.


  • Environmental factors and upbringing

Research suggests that people who start smoking cannabis at a young age are more likely to develop an addiction to cannabis. If you’ve grown up in an environment, which wasn’t ideally suited to a child or a teenager, you may be at greater risk of cannabis addiction. If your childhood was disrupted, you had negative experiences as a child, or you were exposed to drug addiction through parents who abused drugs, for example, the risk of addiction is likely to be higher. Peer pressure can also play a role, especially during the teenage years, when it can seem like there’s no alternative to trying to fit in with a particular clique.


  • Pressure and stress

We live increasingly hectic and stressful lives, and many of us resort to coping mechanisms to get by. For some, this means working out or meditating, but for others, dealing with stress can lead them to drinking too much or taking drugs. You might find that the first thing you want to do when you’ve worked late, and you’re desperate to block out work pressures and unwind is smoke cannabis. The trouble is that while one joint may not harm you, there’s every chance that you’ll develop a dependency, which could have serious implications for your wellbeing.


Signs of cannabis addiction

Addiction can impact people in many different ways. There isn’t a set of symptoms to look out for with cannabis addiction as such, but there are signs that may indicate that cannabis addiction is a threat or an existing problem. Symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Common examples of cannabis addiction symptoms include:


Psychological and social signs:

  • Changes in behaviour: becoming withdrawn and taking less of an interest in socialising or participating in activities
  • Missing college or work or falling behind
  • Lying and being secretive
  • Continuing to use drugs despite negative health and social consequences
  • Failing to be able to cut down or stop using drugs
  • Thinking about drugs all the time or putting them above relationships, your health or your work commitments
  • Taking risks you would never have considered in the past, for example, getting into the car and taking to the wheel after smoking cannabis
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of focus and poor concentration
  • Feeling irritable and agitated
  • Slower response and reaction times
  • Becoming more paranoid


Physical symptoms

  • Dry mouth
  • Red, bloodshot, irritated eyes
  • Feeling hungry and eating more
  • Sleeping more and feeling tired and listless
  • Lack of coordination and balance
  • Loss of interest in personal presentation and hygiene


Am I addicted to cannabis?

Abusing drugs and becoming addicted to drugs are very different propositions. If you’re addicted to cannabis, you’ll feel like you need to consume cannabis. You may experience both physical and mental urges that compel you to smoke, inhale or ingest cannabis even if you’re aware that taking drugs is damaging your health or putting your relationships with others or your job at risk. Here are some indicators of cannabis addiction:

  • You smoke frequently, often several times a day, and your consumption has been increasing
  • You’ve stopped socialising with friends or engaging in work events
  • You’re devoting more and more time to drugs
  • You’re taking less of an interest in hobbies
  • You’re putting drugs in front of your friends and family
  • You’re willing to steal or get into debt to buy drugs
  • You’re lying to loved ones to cover your tracks
  • You feel like you need to take drugs
  • Your tolerance has increased and you need to take more drugs or consume stronger cannabis
  • You continue to take drugs even though you know your health is at risk and you could lose your job and damage relationships with friends or family members


What are the side-effects of cannabis addiction?

Cannabis addiction can affect you in multiple ways. Here are some of the most common side-effects:


Physical side-effects

Consuming cannabis on a regular basis can put you at risk of a host of physical symptoms, including:

  • Coughing, wheezing and respiratory infections
  • Increased risk of lung and mouth cancer
  • Decreased fertility
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease


Psychological complications

Cannabis addiction can have serious implications for your psychological health and wellbeing. Side-effects include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Elevated risk of depression and schizophrenia


Social implications

Addiction doesn’t just affect physical and mental health, and it can impact more than one person. If you’re battling an addiction to cannabis, for example, this will undoubtedly affect those closest to you. If you have a partner, you have children, or you have a close group of friends, addiction will have consequences for everyone linked to you. You might find that relationships become strained as a result of changes in your behaviour, a lack of understanding about what you’re going through, lies and deceit, and arguments caused by paranoia or heightened irritability. In addition to putting relationships at risk, cannabis addiction can also affect your performance at work, and it may also hamper your social life. You might become withdrawn, and this could lead to you falling out or losing contact with friends or work colleagues.


How to beat cannabis addiction

Perhaps the hardest, but most crucial step towards beating cannabis addiction is admitting that you have a problem in the first place. Often, it can be incredibly tough to recognise the difference between a habit and an addiction, and this can lead to denial. You might feel like you have control over when you take drugs or the quantity of drugs you consume, but ask yourself if you really are in the driving seat? If you find that when you look closely, you have lost control, reaching out and asking for help is the best thing you can do. There are treatments and therapies out there, and at Help4Addiction, we can help you find suitable services in your local area.


Cannabis addiction treatment: which cannabis addiction treatment methods are available?

There are several treatment options available for those suffering from cannabis addiction. Examples include:


Cannabis rehab and detoxing

Drug rehab is often the best course of action for severe addictions. Rehab facilities provide intensive treatment programmes, which are designed to manage the processes of coming off drugs, adjusting to a drug-free life and looking forward to the future. Drug rehab often involves residential stays, which vary in duration. The first stage of a cannabis rehab programme is often drug detoxing. When you have an addiction to drugs, your body gets used to the drug, in this case cannabis, and when you withdraw that drug suddenly, the body reacts. This causes withdrawal symptoms. When you go to rehab, your detox will be overseen and monitored by a highly-trained medical team. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Cravings for cannabis
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite


Cognitive behavioural therapy

Once detox is complete, the focus of rehab treatment will switch to therapies that are designed to enable the individual to adjust to and embrace life without cannabis. Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to enable people to understand why they started taking drugs and why they continue to abuse cannabis, and allow them to adjust their mindset to adopt different coping mechanisms. If you come across a trigger, the aim of CBT is to enable you to overcome that source of potential stress or anxiety by finding alternative ways of coping that don’t involve taking drugs.


Group support

Many people find that being surrounded by others aids their recovery. It can be reassuring to feel like you’re not alone, and hugely beneficial to spend time with people who understand what you’re going through. Group support sessions are designed to facilitate interaction, build ties and provide support networks individuals can turn to and rely on if they’re struggling. There are online forums, as well as physical groups on offer.



Sometimes, counselling can be beneficial when an addiction is linked to a traumatic life event. Talking about tough times or incidents or periods of time that impacted your mental health can help you to process your emotions, understand your feelings and find a way forward. Counselling is available one-on-one or through group sessions.


The benefits of cannabis rehab

When it comes to figuring out how to overcome cannabis addiction, rehab is an option that should be considered carefully. Sometimes, there’s an assumption that cannabis addiction isn’t as serious as other drug addictions, but addiction by its very nature is hazardous. An addiction to anything can put lives at risk. If you’re struggling, and you don’t know how to fight cannabis addiction, cannabis rehab could be the best solution for you. The cannabis rehab process offers the following benefits:

  • Supervised treatment: in a rehab facility, you will be cared for by a team of experienced health professionals who will look after you through drug detox and prepare you for life after rehab.
  • Tailored care: every person is unique, and addiction can present itself in various forms and guises. A drug rehab centre will offer tailored care based on a personalised treatment plan, which caters for the needs of the individual.
  • Focus on recovery: residential programmes enable you to focus entirely on your recovery. While outpatient care and group support can be hugely beneficial, if you’re undergoing treatment at home, there are likely to be distractions. At rehab, you don’t have to worry about work, pleasing other people or potential temptations.
  • Support from others: many people meet new friends through rehab, and it can be really uplifting to have people to confide in or turn to if you’re finding life difficult.


Cannabis rehab cost

The cost of cannabis rehab varies significantly based on the facility you choose, and the type of treatment you undergo. Private rehab facilities typically charge around £1,000 per week for residential programmes. If you’re worried about the cost of drug rehab, we can recommend services and centres that are suited to your budget.

Read more: How much does Rehab cost?

Find a cannabis rehab centre

If you’ve decided that it’s time to seek help, and you’d like to find out more about cannabis rehab, Help4Addiction can help you find a cannabis rehab centre. We have an extensive network of contacts all over the UK, and we can make recommendations based on your needs, your location, and your budget. 

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Where to get help for cannabis addiction

Are you worried that you might be addicted to cannabis, or are you concerned about a friend or a relative? If so, why not contact Help4Addiction today? Our trained experts can provide you with information about how to get help for cannabis addiction. We offer a free helpline, and we have many years of experience in working with drug services across the UK. If you want to talk, or you need advice, we’re here to help you take the next step.


Call us today on 0203 955 7700 or request a free callback online.


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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.