Cannabis Addiction and Abuse

What Is Cannabis Addiction?

Some people can use cannabis intermittently and stop but one in every ten users, or 9%, will become addicted. Addiction is a chronic but treatable disease and brain disorder that is typified by using cannabis compulsively, even when the negative consequences are clear. Cannabis abuse can exist without a dependency, but using it often leads to addiction. Cannabis abuse is easier to manage and treat before you develop a dependency or addiction.

Cannabis Addiction Symptoms

One of the clearest signs of a cannabis addiction is your loss of control not to use it, even though you are aware that it has adverse effects on your life. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Developing a higher tolerance

As your cannabis dependency grows, you need to use more to experience the same effects. An increased tolerance is a clear indication of a dependency.

Losing motivation and interest in social activities

People who develop a cannabis dependency find it difficult to make decisions and be motivated to set goals. You may stop enjoying activities you once found pleasurable or lack the motivation to do them.

Your relationships suffer

You may withdraw socially or isolate yourself from friends or family who disapprove of cannabis use.

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use cannabis

If you do not use cannabis for 24-hours, you are likely to experience psycho-emotional and physical cannabis withdrawal symptoms.

Defining Cannabis

‘Cannabis’ refers to the products that are derived from the female cannabis sativa plant. THC is found in the dark resin that covers the plant’s furry leaves and the brown-green flowers of the female plant. Other cannabis products include

  • Hash, which can be black or brown and soft or hard in consistency.
  • Cannabis oil, which is dark and sticky.

Cannabis contains over 500 chemical substances

There are more than 500 cannabinoids in the female cannabis plant. The cannabinoids of greatest significance are THC and CBD.

Cannabis has a half life of 2 hours

After smoking, cannabis can be detected in blood plasma within a few seconds and users will feel the effects within one to two minutes. THC levels peak within five to seven minutes of smoking cannabis.

Cannabis is used for its psychoactive and medicinal properties

People who use cannabis recreationally do so for the ‘high’ the drug induces. Users report feelings of relaxation and euphoria when they use it in small doses.

a lady talking to her treatment specialist regarding their cannabis addiction symptoms

The Dangers of Cannabis Addiction

Some of the long-term dangers of addiction include

  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Reduced dopamine production
  • Damage to your lungs and/or a cough
  • An elevated risk of heart attack, stroke and infection

This is why many will look for professional cannabis rehabilitation services, as within a residential center, they will receive full support and additional care.

What Is the Difference between Cannabis Addiction and Abuse?

You would be “abusing” cannabis when you use it too much or too often. You would be “addicted” to cannabis when you are unable to stop using it, even though it is having adverse effects on your life.
Some of the signs of cannabis abuse include

  • Missing work, school or social events
  • Missing your obligations and commitments to other people
  • Moodiness
  • Denial about a cannabis problem
  • Self-isolation

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Cannabis Effects

Cannabis affects the body and brain. Its effects can be experienced one to two minutes after smoking, and approximately 45-minutes after consuming it as an edible. The effects may last from 40 minutes to two hours.

While many users report positive short-term effects, long term cannabis use has been documented to affect executive cognitive function, which includes faculties like concentration, inhibition, impulsivity, attention, decision making, risk taking, reaction time, working memory and verbal fluency.

Emotional effects

Cannabis results in short-term euphoric feelings due to a dopamine release, but this sensation becomes more difficult to access when your tolerance increases.

A study conducted by research psychologists at the University of Colorado suggests cannabis impacts on your ability to process emotions, by intensifying negative and positive emotions. Study participants who used cannabis demonstrated a reduced ability to identify emotions and empathize with others “on a deep emotional level”.

Physiological effects

Cannabis causes physiological effects like rapid changes in your heart rate and a decreased respiratory rate. Your eyes will become bloodshot and your mouth and throat are likely to feel dry.

Because your blood vessels dilate, your blood pressure is likely to decrease. An increased appetite is a common after effect.

Psychological effects

The THC in cannabis has a psycho-active effect on the brain. Research indicates that some first-time cannabis users can experience temporary psychosis (paranoia, hallucinations, and distortions of reality). Cannabis use has also been linked to schizophrenia.

Using cannabis affects your capacity for concentration and memory. It has also been linked to depression, social anxiety and suicidal tendencies in users of all ages.

Cannabis use activates and alters your body’s stress response systems, and research suggests that long term and chronic use of cannabis can promote the continued use of it, as part of a dysregulated stress response.

Crime-related statistics

  • FBI data shows that 545 602 people were arrested for cannabis-related crimes in 2019. 92% of these arrests were for cannabis possession (as opposed to distributing or dealing).
  • There is an association between people with underlying psychological disorders who use cannabis and violence, and with violent behavior in adolescents. A 2012 paper detailing domestic violence among adolescents found that cannabis contributed to a doubling of domestic violence incidents. Other studies conducted on Chinese and British men found that cannabis use was linked to a five-fold increase in violence.

How Does Cannabis Addiction Affect My Family?

Cannabis dependencies affect interpersonal relationships, safety and finances, and put family members at an increased risk of abuse. A family home becomes an unpredictable environment when cannabis addiction is present, and family members go through daily challenges in the face of it. Parents who abuse cannabis give their children less guidance and support.

If a child has a dependency on cannabis, the parents worry and feel responsible or guilty. Some might withdraw emotionally while others might become overbearing and unintentionally enable the habit.

When a child is abusing cannabis the siblings might feel invisible or sidelined as the parents become preoccupied with the other child. Siblings may start using cannabis to get more attention from their parents.

Cannabis Overdose

Even though cannabis isn’t associated with overdose death, it can pose serious side effects.

The challenge in understanding cannabis overdose is everyone has a different tolerance, and levels of THC are not always known. It appears that edibles cause more overdoses than smoked cannabis. The effects from edibles may begin anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours after ingestion, so people eat more.

Mixing cannabis and alcohol or other substances may result in an overdose. It is possible to overdose after a period of abstinence, as your tolerance will decrease. This may occur during a relapse, particularly if you have abstained from using it for 24 hours or more.

About Our Drug Addiction Treatment Center

Our Drug Addiction Treatment Center offers a luxurious and non-judgmental space for clients who want to heal and move forward from a cannabis addiction. We have created a peaceful retreat for our clients to step away from your day-to-day stressors and into a supported environment where medical supervision is available 24-hours a day.

We use evidence-based therapeutic interventions to help you achieve your sobriety goals through residential in-patient programs and extended aftercare support. Our team is available to help you to learn healthy coping skills to lead the life you want.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, music therapy, nutrition programs and life skills programs are just some of the methods used to help you regain balance and pleasure in your life.

About United Recovery Project

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Drug Addiction and Abuse Treatment?

Our center has been designed for comfort and safety. We enable our patients to retreat into a luxurious and non-judgmental space where you receive 24-hour medical supervision and clinical interventions to help you forge your long-term recovery path. Once your drug detox is complete you can enroll for inpatient addiction treatment in a familiar setting as you learn the tools and coping skills required to address the underlying triggers that resulted in your drug addiction. Aftercare, support groups and sober living homes provide you with extended care programs that facilitate long term sobriety in an understanding community.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Cannabis dangerous?

Using cannabis carries acute and chronic risk, but the degree of risk is variable. Cannabis is dangerous for adolescents, who are at higher risk of developing an addiction. A small percentage of first-time users may experience temporary psychosis, and chronic and long-term use has been associated with anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

Is there help for Cannabis addiction?

Professional help for cannabis addiction gives you the best chance of long term sobriety. Because addiction is a chronic disease, you would need to address your physical addiction first with a detox.

After that, you can participate in an in-patient program in a stable environment that will facilitate your recovery using proven, therapeutic processes and provide medical assistance and support to help you avoid relapse. A residential program gives you 30 to 45 days of supported addiction treatment in a 12-step facility. Participating in aftercare programs and support groups is part of the extended program to assist you with long term recovery.

Can I quit alone?

Wanting to quit is an important step in your recovery journey and trying to quit on your own is better than continuing to use cannabis. If you have been using cannabis for a long time, have been using very potent strains, if your home environment is unstable, or if you are an adolescent, your prognosis is more favorable if you undergo medically assisted addiction treatment.

Participating in a professional addiction treatment program means you are monitored and supported through the most difficult moments.

How is Cannabis harmful?

High doses of THC that are ingested often can lead to a disruption of your endocannabinoid system. Your brain contains endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that communicate signals between your brain and other parts of your body. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating important bodily functions: appetite, sleep, metabolism, mood, immune responses like inflammation, memory and learning, pain, the reproductive system. These functions are disrupted when you use too much cannabis, because your system has been overloaded by the endocannabinoids in cannabis.

How to help if someone is overdosing?

If you suspect someone has overdosed on cannabis, you should call 911 straight away or take the person to an emergency room. Monitor the person for worsening symptoms while you wait for help. If you are the person who has overdosed, make sure there is someone to help you and do not drive yourself to the emergency room.

If possible give the patient fluids and tell the emergency responder what substances the patient has consumed, especially if alcohol and other substances were mixed with cannabis.

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