While the effects of cannabis use aren’t considered as serious as other drugs, it can still create problems in the personal lives of some individuals, including addiction. If you believe you or a loved one is living with a cannabis addiction, then there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. If you spot these, it may be time to seek help.

Signs You May Have a Cannabis Problem

It is believed that around 9% of cannabis users become either dependent or addicted to the drug. This means they cannot stop using the substance despite it having a negative effect on relationships, finances, or health. Below are five signs that may indicate a cannabis addiction.

You Are Having Relationship Issues

Maybe you find yourself distancing yourself from loved ones who disapprove of your drug use. If you are putting less effort into your relationships with family, friends, or romantic relationships because of the drug, then this is a key sign of a substance abuse disorder.

You Have Lost Interest in Activities

Cannabis can decrease your motivational levels and interfere with your decision-making; this can result in a loss of interest in recreational activities and social outings.

You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are dependent on cannabis, then you may notice withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop using the drug. This includes feeling irritable, restless, anxious and having sleep or eating problems.

You Are Unable to Cut Down or Stop Taking the Drug

Individuals who are dependent on any substance often find it difficult to stop taking the drug despite the adverse effects, such as a difficulty in maintaining responsibilities.

Your Tolerance Has Increased

As you smoke cannabis regularly and if you become dependent on the drug, your tolerance will increase, which means you will need more of the substance to feel the same effects.

Recognising Unhealthy Cannabis Use in Family Members or Loved Ones

It can be scary to notice that a loved one is abusing cannabis. You may be worried about both their physical and mental health and the effects that excessive use of the drug is having on their life. Many people consider the drug to be relatively harmless, however research has found that it may reduce memory, thinking, and learning functions. It’s important to know the signs of cannabis use to offer support in seeking help. However, someone could be living with a cannabis addiction and may not display these signs or symptoms.

What Changes in Mood or Personality Can Be Seen in Family Members or Loved Ones?

When someone is smoking cannabis, they often find it difficult to engage and hold a conversation. This is because cannabis affects an individual’s ability to focus, with users often drifting into other topics, commonly unrelated. If a loved one has lost interest in activities they once enjoyed or were once an important part of their lives, this could signal cannabis use as it decreases motivation and an individual’s ‘get up go’ greatly. Maybe a loved one has become extremely paranoid; suspicious thoughts and feelings are common for cannabis users. Alternatively, when someone is high on cannabis, it’s common for them to laugh at times at something that may not even seem funny; this can happen at any point, even at inappropriate times.

Changes in Appearance and Health

People who smoke cannabis often experience a similar set of physical symptoms that can be spotted, and these include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot / red eyes
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Impaired balance
  • Increased appetite
  • Lack of attention to hygiene or grooming
  • Poor coordination
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns, including inability to sleep
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms if cannabis has not been consumed for a specific amount of time

Changes in Social Interactions and Friendships

People who are addicted to any drug often change their circle of friends to accommodate their drug use. By surrounding themselves with other users of cannabis, it is often easy to dismiss and normalise the addiction as everyone around them is also using the drug. This can result in an individual withdrawing themselves from loved ones who disapprove of their cannabis use so they can avoid dealing with the problem at hand, often choosing the drug over causes of concern. It can be difficult to not take these actions personally as it’s disheartening watching a loved one withdraw because of drug use. However, dependency on a substance can alter a person’s way of thinking and their current actions do not reflect them or you, just their drug use. It’s important to remember that with the correct help and support, many of these changes can be reversed.

Recognising When It’s Time to Get Help

If cannabis is negatively impacting the ability to live a happy, healthy, and productive lifestyle for either you or a loved one, an intervention may be the best way to help facilitate the start of change. Often, when people have become addicted to a substance, especially cannabis, they do not believe it to be a hindrance or a problem and may need the assistance and advice of someone on the outside to help them see the problem. This can involve a loved one’s meeting to discuss, educate, and explain the potential dangers of cannabis and how it is negatively impacting your or your loved one’s life.

The first step in any recovery journey is the admittance and acknowledgement of abuse of the chosen substance. You cannot start rehab for cannabis addiction unless you are ready to admit to the problem, so you can commit to changing your lifestyle and behaviours to accommodate a new way of living. If you are unsure whether you do have a substance abuse disorder, then there are a range of screening tools that are available for further clarity. A popular choice is CAGE: Cut, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye. Keep in mind, however, that while there is no formal detoxification for cannabis use, if you are abusing multiple substances, there might be a need to cleanse your body from these substances. Rehabilitation works best when the mind and body are clean off any harmful chemicals.

The CAGE assessment is for regular drug users and focuses on four questions. The answers will help indicate whether you or a loved one is living with a substance abuse disorder, although it is not a diagnosis tool. Alternatively, it is always best to contact your GP to discuss any troubles you may be having. You are not alone, and help is available at every stage of your addiction.

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