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Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis addiction is also known as 'cannabis dependence' or 'cannabis use disorder'. A cannabis addiction is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as the 'continued use of cannabis despite significant impairment'. This definition fits the mould of other addictions defined in DSM-5. Cannabis addiction generally ranges from mild to severe. Cannabis addiction is a progressive disorder. This means the longer you are addicted to cannabis, the more severe your addiction will generally become.

Cannabis addiction is psychological in nature. When you become addicted to cannabis, physical dependency does not arise. This means cannabis dependency is purely psychological in nature. For this reason, some experts have termed cannabis addiction a 'perceived' addiction.

Signs and symptoms of cannabis addiction

The signs and symptoms associated with cannabis addiction are not considered sufficiently serious to require urgent medical attention. This is because symptoms arising from a cannabis addiction are purely psychological in nature.

Symptoms indicating you could be suffering from an addiction to cannabis include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Reduction in appetite

If a cannabis addiction has arisen and you attempt to stop using cannabis, you will generally begin to experience some or all of the above symptoms within days.

Signs you could be addicted to cannabis include:

  • You spend a great portion of your time finding and then using cannabis
  • You spend a disproportionate amount of time recovering from your heavy cannabis use
  • You miss important events or activities due to your cannabis use
  • You struggle with relationships due to your cannabis use
  • You continue to use cannabis despite knowledge of the negative consequences of continuing to do so

Mental health problems due to cannabis addiction

Cannabis addiction gives rise to a number of highly negative mental health problems. This includes anxiety disorder, acute psychosis, depersonalisation, schizophrenia, mania, suicidal ideation and chronic psychosis.

The causes and risk factors of cannabis addiction

Cannabis addiction arises following long term exposure to the drug. Cannabis addiction also arises when strains of cannabis with high THC content are consumed. Use cannabis during adolescence also increases the risk of developing an addiction to cannabis.

One of the hallmarks of cannabis addiction is increased tolerance. Another hallmark is when you experience withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop using cannabis. Long term cannabis addiction causes changes in how cannabis is absorbed, metabolised and excreted in the body (known as pharmacokinetic changes). Due to prolonged use, the body improves its efficiency in eliminating cannabis from your system and means the user must take greater quantities of cannabis to achieve the desirable effects.

Secondly, long term cannabis use reduces the power of cannabis to stimulate pleasure producing neurotransmitters located in the brain. In order to experience the pleasure initiated by cannabis consumption, the long term user will be forced to consume greater quantities of the drug. This is known as pharmacodynamics changes to the brain caused by exposure to drugs such as cannabis.

How to treat cannabis addiction

Currently, there exists no medication capable of effectively treating cannabis addiction. A number of 'talking therapies' and cognitive models exist to help treat cannabis. This includes attending 12-step meetings help by Cannabis Anonymous or undergoing treatment via an inpatient or outpatient cannabis rehab centre.

Get in touch today

Cassiobury Court’s admission team is here on hand to assist your transition into recovery. For a free assessment and evaluation of your likely treatment needs, get in touch today. We offer free guidance and help. We also advise on the best possible residential treatment that’s absolutely tailored to meeting your needs during your cannabis rehabilitation programme.

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