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Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis although often portrayed as harmless is one of the most widely misused substances in the UK. Commonly referred to as ‘marijuana’, ‘weed’, ‘pot’, ‘skunk’, ‘grade’, ‘grass’ ‘ganga’ ‘hash’ ‘hemp’ cannabis can evoke feelings of deep relaxation and a sense of tranquillity and more often than not is thought of as harmless however repetitive cannabis consumption can be extremely addictive.
Typically it is smoked as ‘joint’ a hand rolled cigarette or in a pipe or a bong (water pipe) . It can also be ingested by mixing the leaves, flowers and seeds into food or brewed as a tea to drink.
Cannabis Addiction - Facing Addiction

The Effects of Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis contains the (mind altering) chemical delta – 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which when smoked passes rapidly from the lungs into the bloodstream which carries the substance to the brain and internal organs. When ingested through food or drink THC is absorbed more slowly.

Symptoms of cannabis addiction vary from person to person and are dependant upon on the amount of cannabis consumed and the frequency of use.

Psychological symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia and defensiveness
  • Feeling nervous and ‘on edge’
  • Agitation
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Increased temper and irritability
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Distorted perception of the passage of time
  • Poor judgement/ decision-making
  • Memory problems
  • Regularly consuming cannabis as a way to relieve stress
  • Poor focus or concentration
  • Intense cravings for cannabis
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health conditions

Physical symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Constant mucus filled cough
  • Dry mouth
  • Red blurry, bloodshot eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased appetite
  • Poor memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Anxiety paranoia or fear
  • Impaired balance, co-ordination and motor skills
  • Frequent chest illnesses
  • Slow/Delayed reaction time
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/ personal hygiene

Behavioural and social symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Apathy and a lack of motivation
  • Continuing to use cannabis despite negative repercussions
  • Using other drugs alongside cannabis
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty in thinking/problem solving
  • Lying/deceiving others regarding cannabis use
  • Using cannabis when dangerous e.g. before driving
  • Engaging in risky and reckless behaviour when using cannabis
  • Avoiding contact with family/ friends, isolating
  • Only spending time with other people who use cannabis
  • Lack of interest in previous hobbies/activities
  • Poor attendance/performance at work

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

Long term use can result in withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop.
  • Irritability, anger and aggression
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Restlessness
  • Depressed mood
  • Physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, shakiness/tremors/sweating. Fever, chills, headaches
The health risks associated with cannabis addiction are often related to heart and lung problems and mental health conditions such as:
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Fertility issues
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Kills brain cells and damages central nervous system

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