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.
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:
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.
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 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 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:
- 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
- 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:
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
Cannabis addiction can have serious implications for your psychological health and wellbeing. Side-effects include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Elevated risk of depression and schizophrenia
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
- Mood swings
- 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.
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.
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.