Cannabis is one of the most popular drugs in the world, and the chances are that you know someone who smokes it.
Almost 8% of people in the UK reported using cannabis in 2020. Cannabis-related hospitalisations rose more than 50% between 2013 and 2018, as cannabis addiction can creep in while people still think they are in control of their intake. By learning to recognise the signs and risks of cannabis addiction, you will be well-equipped to take the first steps toward recovery.
What Is cannabis addiction?
Cannabis addiction involves the compulsive use of cannabis despite any negative consequences it may have. The drug is made from the psychoactive parts of cannabis plants, which can create feelings of relaxation. You may feel like you have to smoke it to get through the day or become stressed out when you don’t have any. Continuing to smoke even though it impacts negatively on your life is a sign of cannabis addiction.
Spotting the signs of cannabis addiction
Cannabis addiction is caused by mental and emotional reliance on the drug. Signs to look out for that show whether you’re addicted to cannabis include:
- Regular and unexplained absences from work or education
- Irritability, agitation and paranoia
- Anxiety when not taking cannabis
- Having bloodshot eyes
- Impaired balance and coordination
- Excessive sleepiness
- A lack of attention to personal hygiene or grooming
- Impaired ability to track the passing of time
- Dramatic mood swings
- Possessing paraphernalia such as rolling papers or water pipes
- Lying or deceiving others about whereabouts or activities
- Using larger amounts of cannabis over time or smoking more often
- Attempting to stop using cannabis but not being able to
- Losing interest in activities
- Social withdrawal from people who are not using cannabis
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to access cannabis or when trying to quit
- Diminished self-esteem and a persistent sense of hopelessness
What are the long-term effects of cannabis addiction?
MRI scans have shown changes in the grey and white matter and connectivity in the brains of people suffering from cannabis addiction. These alterations involve brain areas that help you carry out tasks. Some studies have found these changes to persist even after cannabis use has stopped.
Cannabis addiction can permanently affect how well you think and concentrate. It affects short-term memory, making you forgetful while also affecting your motivation. Sleep problems are common, alongside losing appetite, feeling tired and irritable and experiencing mood swings. Long-term use can lead to low energy, low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with life.
Cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco. Long-term use carries the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and respiratory cancers.
Smoking cannabis with tobacco puts you at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, compounding the difficulties you may face when trying to quit alone.
Cannabis addiction and mental health
Memory loss, anxiety, and panic attacks are common results of cannabis addiction.
Most cannabis sold illegally in the UK is a strong kind known as skunk, linked to a higher risk of mental health episodes. Heavy, regular use of skunk can cause short-lived paranoia severe enough to require hospital treatment. It can also send you into a psychotic state.
Cannabis increases your risk of developing mental illness, especially if you use it at a young age.
Linwood House can help you with cannabis addiction
If you have tried to quit cannabis and have been unable to stop, Linwood House is here to help. At our treatment centre, you can quit cannabis and learn the skills needed to combat cravings. We understand that addiction is complex, affecting both the body and the mind. Get in touch to ask questions and find out about support for cannabis addiction.