The question of what is cannabis addiction and does it even exist often crop up when this drug is discussed. There are some who believe cannabis to be a harmless substance and who feel that it should be legalised, with users free to consume it in the same way that adults are free to use other chemical substances such as alcohol. However, there are others who strongly believe that cannabis should remain a Class B illegal drug because it has the potential to cause addiction and harm in those who use it. This is a debate that will undoubtedly rage on as it appears the UK Government has absolutely no plans to change the laws around this drug.
Cannabis is an illegal drug and although it has been the most widely consumed illegal drug in the United Kingdom for a long time, recent figures have shown that fewer individuals are using it than ever before. It is a naturally occurring substance and comes from the cannabis plant. It is this fact alone that often makes people assume it is completely safe to use.
Nevertheless, despite cannabis being a naturally occurring plant, it does contain a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol, which is this chemical that causes the hallucinogenic properties associated with the substance.
Those who take the drug tend to feel very relaxed and chilled out. Some people become very talkative or giddy and will find everything to be very funny. Others will become paranoid and will experience hallucinations that may cause them to become scared or agitated.
Recent studies have found that newer versions of cannabis known as skunk cannabis are much stronger than the drug used to be, and this is causing an increasing number of users to develop psychosis. In fact, experts have revealed that a quarter of all new psychosis cases can be linked to skunk cannabis.
Although cannabis is considered less harmful than other illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the fact remains that it is an illegal drug and, as such, use of it is punishable by fines and prison sentences. Those who are found in possession of the drug could face a prison sentence of up to five years while those found selling it or giving it to another person could be hit with an unlimited fine and up to fourteen years in prison.
There are some police forces however, namely Durham Constabulary, where officers have said they will not be prosecuting those found in possession of the drug. The police and crime commissioner Ron Hogg said that his force was moving away from targeting users of the drug as well as those growing it for their own use. This was met with fierce criticism by those who strongly believe the drug should not be decriminalised.
As well as the immediate negative impact for some individuals using the drug, there are longer term issues associated with cannabis use, namely cannabis addiction. But what is cannabis addiction? As with any other type of addiction, a cannabis habit becomes a problem when it starts to have a negative impact on the individual and the lives of those around them.
If use of cannabis starts to interfere with daily life, then it can be said to be an addiction. Nonetheless, while substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine typically cause both a physical and a psychological addiction, cannabis addiction tends to be psychological only. This means that those affected by it will feel a need to use the drug but they will probably not suffer any physical withdrawal symptoms when they are not using it.
There are negative consequences for those who use cannabis. As the drug is typically smoked with tobacco, the risk of lung problems increase; lung damage and even lung cancer can develop in long term users of the drug. There is also an impact on mental health, with problems such as depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, and dementia all linked to use of the drug.
However, those who have developed an addiction to cannabis will probably suffer in other areas of their aside from health. Those who have developed a dependence on the drug will begin to neglect important aspects of their life including school or work. Performance levels will drop as he or she finds everything but the drug irrelevant. Activities that were previously important to the individual will take a back seat to cannabis use, and even family members and friends will be relegated to second place.
This can have a devastating impact on relationships as loved ones struggle to understand why their addicted family member is acting in the way he or she is. There might also be an impact on the finances of the person, who will need extra cash to fund his or her habit. If sources of funds run dry, the cannabis addict may borrow or even steal from loved ones and friends, and some will resort to crime to get their hands on the money they need to buy the drug.
Although a cannabis addiction may not be as destructive as addictions to other drugs, it can spiral out of control and cause a number of consequences for the individual and his or her family.
It is often difficult for cannabis users to consider themselves addicts because many of them will also believe that the drug is harmless. Nevertheless, the only way for a person to get the help he or she needs to quit the drug is to accept when there is an issue. If, for example, your loved ones have suggested that you are smoking too much cannabis or smoking it too often, then it is worth looking at your habits and asking yourself a few questions so that you know for sure.
For instance, if you are smoking more of the drug than you did when you first started using it, it could be that you have built up a tolerance to it. Do you need more now than you did before in order to get the same feelings?
Are you experiencing psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety or mood swings when you have not had cannabis? If so, then it is likely that you are dependent on the drug. Another thing to consider is how much control you have over your use. If you are regularly smoking more than you planned to because you find it difficult to stop once you have started, you may need help.
If you do not believe that you have an addiction to cannabis, you are unlikely to want to stop smoking it, but there are many reasons to do so. If you have asked yourself what is cannabis addiction and could you be affected, it is probable that you know deep down you could be in danger.
Apart from the fact that you may already be addicted, think about the reasons you should quit. For starters, you are going to feel much better physically. If you are smoking the drug with tobacco, your lungs are undoubtedly working hard to clear out the chemicals and toxins. You will have more energy when you quit and you will be giving your lungs a chance to repair themselves.
If you have been struggling with mental health problems, you can look forward to these improving when you are no longer relying on cannabis. You will also have the chance to rebuild bridges with your loved ones and friends, and your finances can also start to recover.
When asking the question of what is cannabis addiction, the issue of how to end it usually comes up. The good news is that treatment is available for a cannabis addiction by way of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programmes.
Without a physical dependence on the drug, it is unlikely that you would need to complete a medical detox, so you could get started on a programme of rehabilitation immediately. Here at UKAT, we have a number of clinics operating around the UK where cannabis addictions are regularly treated.
Our state-of-the-art clinics give patients the chance to recover without distractions from the outside world. Moreover, with some of the best counsellors, therapists, and doctors on hand to help you overcome your illness, you have the best chance of a long-term successful recovery.
If you would like more information about UKAT and our clinics, please get in touch right now. You can call via our dedicated 24-hour helpline or we can call you if you leave your name and number on our contact page. We have experience in helping people to beat their cannabis addictions and we want to help you too. Do not delay any longer; think of the many benefits that await you when you say goodbye to cannabis for good.