With the growing legalisation of marijuana across the world, the popularity of CBD products and increasing tolerance towards the drug, you could be forgiven for wondering exactly how addictive and harmful cannabis or marijuana actually is.
While it is less immediately addictive than most other illegal drugs, and people often manage to use cannabis without developing a dependency, cannabis addiction is absolutely a real thing and can be as life-changing and dangerous as other addictions.
Regular, ongoing use of cannabis can lead to something known as marijuana use disorder, which is essentially a milder form of addiction. While not able to cause physical withdrawal symptoms, marijuana use disorder can still have many damaging effects such as:
- Difficulty regulating cannabis use
- Increased tolerance leading to consumption of larger amounts
- Prioritising cannabis use over other activities and responsibilities
- Continuing to use despite financial issues
While in most cases this can be more easily controlled than addiction to drugs like cocaine, heroin or even alcohol, in the most severe cases marijuana use disorder can lead to full-blown marijuana addiction, withdrawal symptoms and all.
When this happens, it is important the cannabis dependent person gets professional help in order to aid their recovery and regain control.
Marijuana Addiction Effects and Risks
The common effects of marijuana use include:
- Higher pulse rate
- Bloodshot eyes
- Increased appetite
In less common circumstances these can also become:
- Short term memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Perceptual distortion
- Psychological distress and panic attacks
It should also be stated that smoking cannabis can lead to lung and throat damage and even lung cancer, in a similar manner to smoking tobacco.
Even further, it is common for cannabis smokers to mix tobacco into their cannabis to make it easier to smoke, but this drastically increases the addiction potential, as the brain learns to associate the “reward” of feeling high with the hit of nicotine, and begins to crave both.
Increasing THC Content
While “CBD” is a substance present in the cannabis plant that is both legal and growing in popularity as a health product, THC is it’s illegal brother and the substance responsible for the “high” feeling and addiction risks of the plant.
With illicit cannabis growers constantly trying to make a more powerful drug, the THC content of street cannabis has increased by over 300% since the 1960s, which makes it more dangerous and more addictive than ever before, and has a direct impact on the tolerance and expectations of the regular cannabis user.
How Cannabis Addiction Works
When you smoke cannabis, cannabinoid receptors in the brain are activated. These receptors are usually activated by neurotransmitters such as Anandamide. THC blocks the actions of these neurotransmitters by mimicking Anandamide.
When this happens over a long period of time in habitual smokers, the body ceases producing enough Anandamide, meaning the brain now needs cannabis to feel normal and operate in a regular manner.
When we then stop using cannabis, we experience withdrawal symptoms, not due to the lack of THC but due to the lack of Anandamide. This is how cannabis absolutely does have addictive qualities and withdrawal symptoms despite many people claiming otherwise. The confusion is likely caused by the cases where a quitting smoker still has Anandamide present in the brain, meaning these lucky individuals are able to get off without experiencing too many withdrawal symptoms.
For the rest of us, cannabis addiction has a major impact on our quality of life, with consequences including:
- Strained relationships due to prioritising drug use over other appointments and responsibilities
- Issues at work or school
- Financial problems
- Difficulty learning new things or retaining memories
Loss of Motivation
Many people start using cannabis because they believe it can help them to manage stress. Indeed, in the early stages, the feeling of relaxation and contentment experienced when smoking cannabis can appear to help with this.
Unfortunately, this is actually one of the most dangerous aspects of cannabis, because when regular smoking becomes addiction, contentment and relaxation often become a complete lack of motivation or willingness to improve one’s life.
When you add sleepiness, financial issues and loss of memory to this situation, many cannabis smokers lose years of their lives without even realising it.
Getting Help with Cannabis Addiction
Do you or a loved one use cannabis regularly?
Have you tried to stop but failed?
Do you prioritise smoking cannabis over attending previously organised social events?
If so, you may well be suffering from cannabis dependence or addiction.
Our friendly, experienced staff are waiting to give you expert advice on how to overcome your addiction and regain control of your life. We have spent years researching the most effective ways to detox from marijuana and overcome marijuana addiction, and in the process built the UK’s first cannabis detox from home service.
This allows you to recover from cannabis dependency in the comfort of your own home with all of the support you’d usually receive from an inpatient rehab facility such as:
- GP appointments
- 24/7 access to doctors, nurses and professional advice
- Therapy sessions and holistic treatments
- Support groups
- CBT and other therapy
Get in touch today and see how we can help you regain control for good.