Those who have never had any experience of cannabis addiction, or those who are campaigning for the drug to be legalised, will probably be heard saying that it is not possible to become addicted to the substance; however, the reality is that it is entirely possible to become addicted to cannabis.
Many people, especially young teenagers, struggle with cannabis addiction, and it can get to the point where it is destroying their lives. New research has shown that smoking excessive amounts of cannabis during the teenage years could eventually result in an early death. It has also been revealed that teenagers are more likely to develop an addiction to cannabis than older users are because of the way the youngsters’ brains are structured.
With so many people advocating the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, it will come as no surprise to learn that there have been many studies over the years into the short- and long-term effects of this Class B drug.
Scientists in Sweden have just published the results of a 42-year study into the effects of cannabis. The study commenced in 1969 and analysed data from more than 45,000 men who took part in mandatory military training during 1969 and 1970. The study showed that those who used cannabis heavily during their teenage years were forty per cent more likely to die by the age of sixty. The study also found that there was a proportionate link to marijuana use during teenage years and the risk of death due to suicide or accident.
Other research has found that teenagers who use marijuana are more likely to suffer long-term effects because their brains are still developing. Adults that regularly used cannabis as teenagers are often affected by a noticeable decline in their IQ.
An article published by The Influence news site told the story of Nina, who spoke about her addiction to cannabis and the effect it had on her life. She said that smoking cannabis was once a relaxing habit, but when she started a new job, her habit began to cause problems. She said, “I began smoking before work in the morning, and became increasingly paranoid that someone would smell it on me once I got there, but I couldn’t not smoke before work. I would carry it with me to work and sneak out for a break to smoke. I felt as though I couldn’t get through the day without smoking something.”
The stress of her habit and trying to hide it from colleagues meant her work life suffered. She said, “I became antisocial, stopped going out for lunch with colleagues in order to sneak away and smoke alone, and sometimes stopped home during work errands to smoke more.”
Nina said that she tried to quit smoking cannabis but found that she couldn’t. She had developed an addiction and was unable to stop. She said that her boyfriend was concerned that she would not be able to quit smoking cannabis in order to have a child, so he broke up with her. It was at this point that she realised she was in trouble and reached out for help. She enrolled in an outpatient rehab programme.
Nina is proof that cannabis addiction is a very real problem. While most people who smoke the drug will never become addicted, for some it can cause major problems. Like any other addiction, a cannabis addiction can have devastating consequences.
Those who abuse substances such as cannabis may begin by experimenting with the drug. If they like it, they might smoke it again and again. Before long, their body will come to expect the drug and will adapt in anticipation of it. The user may find that he or she needs more of the drug to get the same effects as before.
As this individual increases the amount taken, their body will react again. And once addiction kicks in, he or she may experience a physical or psychological need for the substance. Some users will suffer withdrawal symptoms when not using. Others may become anxious or irritable when they cannot get their hands on the drug. At this point, they will find it almost impossible to quit, even if they want to. Despite the drug causing obvious detrimental harm to themselves and those around them, they will be unable to stop without help.
As with many other drug addictions, a cannabis addiction is typically treated with abstinence and therapy. Patients attending rehabilitation clinics will be expected to quit the drug and will then be given a combination of treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, 12-step work, and one-to-one counselling to help them deal with their addictive behaviours.
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