About Cannabis Addiction
Cannabis is viewed as low-risk and medically beneficial, but it is restricted in the UK. Despite claims of non-addiction, cannabis addiction can be risky for users and finding support can be challenging
Reviewed by our drug and alcohol lead Matthew Molyneux
A high level of use can cause physical dependency. The psychoactive substance in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol, which creates the feeling of being ‘high’. Having bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and an increased appetite are all associated with the effects of cannabis. Long term use means that Tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient that remains in the system for longer causes a low mood effect, which creates a craving for more Tetrahydrocannabinol. Research suggests approximately 10% of those that try cannabis are at risk of becoming addicted.
Frequent and recreational use can have a harmful effect on mental health and can cause symptoms such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, irritability, and mood swings. All of which can be challenging to manage. It may be that it starts to have negative effects on memory and interfere with work or family life too. Cannabis addiction can also have a negative behavioural and social effects. Causing some people to avoid contact with friends and family leading to isolation and others may be more vulnerable to engaging in risk taking behaviour.
Adolescents are also at risk of the harmful effects of cannabis.
Cannabis use in Adolescents
Research suggests that cannabis use in Adolescents can have harmful impacts long term as the human brain can continue developing until early to mid-twenties. Exposure during this time to drugs can be harmful to brain development, there have been links between teens using cannabis and memory use and IQ being negatively impacted.
Adolescents may also be at an increased risk of addiction during teen years and later in life. Those that begin using before age 18, are 5 times more likely to become addicted, this can interfere with their education, social life, mental health and career prospects.
Risks Around Cannabis Addiction and Dependence
The Psychological Dependence Of Cannabis Addiction
One of the biggest problems is that many clients find that they need to use more to get ‘high’ or find that they are using more often than they want to or feel comfortable with.
With regular use cannabis tolerance can build and then the user needs to use again to avoid negative experiences such as anxiety, irritability and low mood. This is viewed as psychological dependence and needs to be treated as seriously as any other substance abuse issue.
It takes between 7 and 10 days to remove a physical dependence however it can take months to disengage from the psychological dependence. We strive to work with the individual to understand the causes of their cannabis use and to utilise more effective coping strategies.
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