Cannabis addiction is very common, but most see it as a harmless addiction. Most Cannabis users will give any number of reasons why they believe it is safe to use, and so justify continuing to use it. However if the individual is an addict, as with any other substance, they will use Cannabis to excess and as a solution to how they feel inside. It is the excessive use and the lifestyle that they tend to submerge themselves into, that eventually leads no end of problems for themselves and also for their family.
Cannabis is a drug that is perceived largely as harmless and is widely accepted around the world; many countries have legalised its use. It is currently classified as a class B drug in the UK; it is illegal to possess and supply it. Possession of a classified drug can carry a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment. Yet despite the drug being classified under the law; it is still very much available in the UK with many dealers even growing the drug on their own or rented property.
Thanks to the numerous pro-Cannabis sites and articles, the drug tends to be seen through rose-tinted glasses and promoted for its pain relieving and relaxing beneficial effects. Little is publicised on the damaging and long term implications smoking Cannabis can have. Just because it is commonly used and easy to obtain, much like alcohol, if used to excess, it can be extremely damaging, particularly to the user’s mental and emotional health.
Cannabis isn’t recognised a being physically addictive as such; the dependence tends to be more for its psychological effects. However if someone who is addicted tries to stop, they will experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia. This is perfectly normal and usually passes within a week or two.
For any individual with the illness of addiction, any substance, whether it be alcohol, Cannabis or a class A drug, they will continue to use it to the detriment of their health, mental and emotional wellbeing, relationships and finances. The problem is not the drug itself, but lies within the individual. Addiction centres in the individual’s mind, in their belief systems, thought processes and inability to manage life and emotions on a daily basis without a substance or addictive behaviour. Think about it: Why is it most individuals can safely drink and use drugs without enormous consequences? Yet for others the drug becomes “their everything” and yet takes everything from them.
Addiction is recognised by Public England Health as a “chronic relapsing brain disease”; even when the consequences of the addiction have devastating effects to the user’s mental, physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing, they are compelled to carry on with their addiction. Cannabis when used excessively and over a long period of time, can cause severe mental health issues; some of which are reversible by stopping Cannabis, and some of which will require further treatment. We are experienced in treating clients with dual diagnosis and co-occurring illnesses, so you can be assured of the best medical attention and professional support whilst under our care. Whilst there is no medical detox for Cannabis addiction as such, Oasis Bradford recognise that withdrawal from Cannabis is likely to cause some anxiety and insomnia. We therefore assess each individual medically and comprehensively on admission and where there is a need, our doctor will prescribe the patient a short medical detox to assist with the withdrawal symptoms. Our patient’s safety and comfort is paramount, so we take every measure possible to ensure this. Our abstinent and supportive environment, will allow the individual to withdraw from Cannabis safely, without temptation or pressure from the outside world
All forms of cannabis are derived from the Cannabis plant, and there are many. Cannabis can come in a grass-like form, liquid oil or solid form. It is known under many different names on the street such as: Hash, Marijuana, Blunt, Blow, Pot, Weed, Dope, Joint, Blunt, Spliff, Ganja and Hashish.
As well as pure Cannabis being available, synthetic Cannabis is produced under many different names and forms and was initially sold as “Legal Highs”. These synthetic forms are just, if not more dangerous. They lulled the user into a false sense of security, that they were taking a drug that was advertised as legal and therefore believed it to be safe. An example of this is the synthetic cannabinoid – Spice. Spice received a lot of negative press and attention due to it having extremely addictive properties and dangerous side effects. Many individuals started to smoke Spice while it was sold as a legal high, under the illusion that it was a safe legal drug. The reality is that users find it incredibly difficult to stop, with the withdrawal effects resembling a heroin withdrawal. Spice has now been classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act and is no longer a legal drug. Users of synthetic cannabinoids, never actually know what they are smoking. As Spice became classified as a class B drug, the manufacturers responded by altering the chemical compound a fraction and releasing it under a different name as a legal drug again. This is how the legal high manufacturers stayed one step ahead of the law.
On the 26th of May 2016 the law recognised the dangers of illegal highs and in response to this a new “Psychoactive Substances Act” came into force, thus making legal highs illegal to supply for human consumption. The welcomed change in the law means that it is now an offence to sell or give psychoactive substances to anyone for free. Legal High shops as a result have now been closed down, but substances can still be obtained through dealers and over the internet (although not legally)
Cannabis in all of its forms causes huge problems when the user develops an addiction. All forms of Cannabis contain the psychoactive chemical THC, in varying amounts. Below are the 3 main forms of pure Cannabis, derived from the cannabis plant:
Cannabis Resin– Usually smoked in a joint or through a bong, Cannabis resin comes in a solid pressed form and in varying shades of brown/black in appearance. This form is commonly known as hash or hashish. As well as being smoked, it can also be added to food and eaten. Resin is taken directly from the Cannabis plant. Generally it is the weaker strain of the drug with lower THC levels.
Herbal Cannabis – Herbal Cannabis is taken from the flowers of the Cannabis plant. Its appearance is similar to that of dried grass and often has a very pungent smell that lingers. Often referred to as weed, skunk, cheese or grass, it comes vacuum-packed, in small bags or wraps. The user of this form will usually mix it with tobacco and smoke from a joint or a pipe. THC levels vary greatly and some forms are extremely strong and mind altering.
Cannabis Oil – The dark sticky oil is the least common form out of the three types, but it is also the most potent in terms of the plant’s psychoactive substance THC. Usually it is added to food, ointments and to potions. Taken from the sticky buds of the Cannabis Sativa plant, cannabis oil tends to be used more for medicinal purposes, whereas the other two forms are popular for recreational use.
Out of the three main forms of Cannabis, Skunk (Herbal Cannabis) along with synthetic Cannabis, tends to cause the most problems, due to its high levels of THC. Smoking Skunk and synthetic Cannabis carries a higher risk of developing mental health issues than the weaker strains available.
Smoking Cannabis regularly or excessively carries a high risk of developing a mental health illness; not only in the short term whilst the drug is being used still, but also in the long term…long after the drug has been stopped. Used through the ages for its medicinal properties, Cannabis is widely used recreationally for its relaxing and mind altering effects. Seen as harmless by many recreational users, it is often referred to as a natural and herbal drug. For individuals with addictive tendencies, it is anything but safe. They will find it almost impossible to stop without the aid of professional help.
Scientifically, it has been proven that users who start smoking Cannabis in their teenage years, are at the highest risk of developing mental health issues and a lowered IQ. This is due to the fact, that up until early adulthood, the brain is still in its developmental stage and is particularly vulnerable to substances. Teenagers in particular and those who have a predisposition to developing addiction or other mental health related disorders are at high risk of developing illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Paranoia, Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. For some, these conditions cannot be reversed, even once the Cannabis has been stopped, and permanent changes to the brain remain.
If you are wondering if you or a loved one may have an addiction to Cannabis, there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for. Users of Cannabis will present a glazed, red and droopy-eyed appearance. They are likely to smell of the drug, as it clings to clothes, hair and furnishings. The effects produced by Cannabis on the user are often referred to as being “stoned”. Those under the influence will have slowed and slurred speech, their emotional and physical reactions are delayed and they will suffer a decrease in motivation. Heavy users or users of a concentrated form will often appear confused, unfocused, and may even struggle to hold a conversation. They will lose periods of time and become extremely forgetful. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, addiction is a progressive illness with ever-increasing consequences. Delaying treatment can lead to the development of an irreversible mental health condition; leading the sufferer to become very depressed, isolated and even suicidal. If you or your loved one are experiencing any of the following, it is vital that you seek professional help and treatment without further delay:
If Cannabis is causing you or a family member distress, please call our clinic and ask for help. We provide a full Cannabis detoxification and relapse prevention program. Once detoxed, we strongly recommend that each patient then goes on to one of our specialist addiction rehabilitation centres to complete a comprehensive treatment programme. Our rehab centres only use the latest in proven and highly effective Cannabis addiction treatments. Our highly trained and dedicated Counsellors and therapists will devise a personalised care plan, designed to treat the root causes of the addiction and the individual’s thinking. Our doctor will conduct a full assessment and treat any mental health issues that are presenting accordingly. Our rehab programmes are designed to restore the individual to full physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Whilst undergoing treatment, you or your loved one will be in the safe hands of our professional, medical and therapeutic staff. By undergoing a full rehabilitation programme, the individual’s chances of staying clean off Cannabis are vastly improved. Treating just the physical aspect (detox) is not sufficient. The psychological aspect of the disease of addiction, essentially the driving force, must also be treated comprehensively.
Please call and speak to a member of our clinical team for more information on how we can help today.