Cannabis is a widely used drug which is both psychologically and physically addictive. The prevalence of cannabis in today’s society is high, though not everyone who uses it will develop a cannabis addiction. For many, smoking cannabis starts during the teenage years, as a recreational activity or an experiment with friends. Some people are able to use cannabis in moderation, but there is always the risk that it will turn into a dependency and an addiction, with darker and more harmful consequences. It is also widely accepted that cannabis is a gateway drug, which people use prior to moving onto other illicit and more dangerous substances, such as cocaine, heroin, and other Class A drugs.

Cannabis is a commonly abused drug, and the consequences are considered most severe for the under-25 age bracket, as the brain is still developing. Prolonged and repeated cannabis use creates a tolerance in the body: as it becomes more efficient at absorbing, metabolising and eliminating the drug from the system, the user will require greater quantities of cannabis to achieve the same effect. Similarly, using cannabis stimulates production of dopamine in the brain, which creates a pleasurable and relaxing effect. Over a period of time, the user’s tolerance increases, meaning they will need more and more cannabis to achieve the initial and desired effect. Whilst there is currently no medication that will effectively treat cannabis addiction or help with detoxing from the drug, most rehab clinics offer tailored cannabis rehab programmes, treating the addiction via talking therapies, cognitive behavioural therapies, and attendance at 12-step meetings.

If you’re worried that your cannabis use has progressed into more of a problem, please have a read of our FAQs on cannabis addiction and rehab below to find out more. Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to one of our specialist addiction counsellors you can call us today on 0800 955 0945 or fill out our quick and easy contact form.

Cannabis addiction

1. Is cannabis addictive?

Yes, cannabis is addictive. Despite this, not everyone who uses the drug will develop an addiction and some people can take cannabis recreationally. However, research has shown that using cannabis daily or near-daily over a prolonged period of time can lead to changes in the brain which create a dependency. The risk is especially heightened when use begins in early adolescence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 10% of cannabis users will develop a dependence but that figure rises to near 20% for people who start using the drug in their teens.

Signs of cannabis addiction include a difficulty to control your use of cannabis, finding you want to use the drug all the time, and despite your best efforts, becoming unable to stop using on your own. As the addiction takes hold, using cannabis will increasingly become the central focus of your life, and you will continue to use compulsively in spite of any negative or harmful consequences to yourself or those around you. Cannabis takes precedence over all other work or social commitments and relationships.

2. How addictive is cannabis?

Cannabis can be very addictive, and cannabis addiction is a very real illness. There is a perception in society that cannabis is a harmless drug or that it isn’t addictive, but this isn’t true. Research has shown that cannabis is a drug to which the user can definitely become addicted, both psychologically and physically. Whilst not everyone who uses cannabis will develop an addiction, it is possible to develop one at any time if there is repeated exposure to the drug over a period of time.

After a period of time, using cannabis will become the person’s coping mechanism and way to relax. The younger the person starts using cannabis, the greater the chances of developing an addiction. The health risks are also greater in young people, and these include a variety of mental health problems from schizophrenia and psychotic episodes, to social anxiety and depression. Whilst cannabis isn’t considered a hard drug in the same way as heroin or cocaine, the effects and consequences of use can be just as detrimental for everyone involved. 

3. Am I addicted to cannabis?

One of the hallmarks of cannabis addiction is developing an increased tolerance to the drug, as well as experiencing a range of cannabis withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop or decrease your use. There are a number of changes, both behavioural and psychological, which highlight the possibility that someone is suffering from cannabis addiction, and which can alert people that their loved one may have a problem which requires professional help.

Developing a cannabis addiction usually follows a similar trajectory to using other illicit substances. It might start out at first as a social activity, a bit of fun or an experiment with friends, but repeated exposure to the drug over a period of time can create a dependency in the brain. Other factors – environmental, psychological, genetic and social – will also play a role. The good news is, help is available, and every day people enter cannabis rehab programmes to deal with their cannabis addiction.

Individuals may exhibit some or all of the below changes to their mental health:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Sleep disturbance

Behavioural changes may include:

  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time seeking out and using cannabis
  • Spending a large amount of time recovering from using cannabis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased isolation
  • A lack of interest in sports and hobbies that they were previously passionate about
  • A deterioration in relationships
  • A continuation of cannabis use despite all evidence of the negative consequences

4. What are the cannabis withdrawal symptoms?

Stopping cannabis use after a prolonged period of time can lead to a range of cannabis withdrawal symptoms, especially after frequent or daily use. Symptoms can be mental as well as physical, and these are listed below. Remember that the intensity of withdrawal experienced will vary, depending on how much you’ve been using and for how long.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Low mood / Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness and agitation

Physical withdrawal symptoms: 

  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

5. What happens during cannabis rehab?

Due to the nature of the drug, detox for cannabis addiction is not usually required. However, individuals will require a detox is they are mixing their cannabis use with other physically dependent substances. For the most part, entering a cannabis rehab means you can get started straightaway engaging with the therapeutic treatments on offer.

Here at the Providence Projects we place great emphasis on group therapy, individual counselling and workshops, which will all help you explore and address the psychological factors which motivate your addiction. By exploring your past and understanding the often complex reasons why you use cannabis, you can begin to heal and move forward. Our cannabis treatment programme is comprehensive and intensive, and our structured timetable is intentional. We know how important routine and structure are when in cannabis rehab, helping recovering addicts to learn discipline and accountability, and to take personal responsibility for their recovery. View full details of our cannabis rehab programme.

Entering rehab for cannabis addiction is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you’re reading this and are worried about yourself or a loved one’s cannabis use, the good news is that there is help available. Recovery is possible and cannabis need no longer control your life, behaviours and feelings. In recovery you learn that you need never use drugs again.

If you’re concerned about your own cannabis use or are enquiring for a friend or loved one, please give us a call today on 0800 955 0945 or click here. Our skilled addiction counsellors are on hand to explain about cannabis addiction and the best treatment options available to you.

Cannabis rehab programme

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