Is Cannabis Addiction Real?

The idea of cannabis being addictive is controversial; hence, many consider cannabis addiction a lie. While there are some people that claim the substance isn’t addictive, there are others that believe it holds high potential for dependency when it is regularly abused over an extended period of time.

Using cannabis on a regular basis can not only build up a person’s tolerance to the plant, but can make a person feel like they need to use it daily in order to function. There are countless people who feel they are unable to stop using cannabis when they want to.

Who Is at Risk of Cannabis Addiction?

People who become addicted to cannabis hold similar risk factors to those that make people more prone to other addictions. There isn’t a single risk factor for cannabis addiction, but there are certain elements that make an individual more prone to addiction in general.

  • Mental Health-People who experience mental health issues are at increased risk for developing an addiction to cannabis. Drugs and alcohol tend to work well for people who experience anxiety and depression. A person might take a few hits of cannabis and feel great. When they try to stop however, the anxiety and depression might get worse, creating a cycle of dependency that can be very difficult to stop.
  • Trauma-People that have experienced trauma in their life are more prone to cannabis addiction than others. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are all precursors to addiction and can increase a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction to cannabis. People with PTSD are also more apt to consume cannabis to the point of addiction.
  • Stress-People that experience high loads of stress are also more apt to develop a cannabis addiction. For those that are more prone to addiction in the first place, using cannabis as a stress release has the potential to turn into dependence. For people who have developed a dependency or addiction to cannabis, it can feel impossible to relieve stress without using the substance.

How Cannabis Addiction Works in the Brain?

THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is responsible for the euphoric high ingesting cannabis produces. THC affects the brain by releasing the chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s pleasure centres and reward response. It allows us not only to see rewards, but increases our action to move towards them. People with lower dopamine activity in the brain are known to be more prone to addiction.

image showing a man relaxing during his treatment for Cannabis Addiction
Why choose eata.org.uk?

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

When dopamine levels are increased in the brain, a person will naturally feel more pleasure. Cannabis abusers however, have shown to have a decreased response to dopamine. And while they’re not releasing less dopamine, the effect of its release tends to be weaker. It’s believed that because people who use cannabis have a dopamine system that’s less reactive, it makes them more susceptible to developing a dependency.

What Are the Risks of Cannabis Addiction?

While some people claim that cannabis isn’t addictive, to those that become dependent on this drug find it does interfere with their quality of life. The regular abuse of cannabis can cause learning problems, issues with memory, drastically affect a person’s mood, and lead to decreased social interaction. Regular cannabis abuse can also negatively alter a person’s perception of reality.

People that become addicted to cannabis will display compulsive behaviour to attain the drug, just as people do who are addicted to more “hardcore” drugs. Cannabis addiction can have negative consequences on a person’s relationships and recreational activity. It can also drastically decrease a person’s performance at work or school. A person with a cannabis addiction will continue to use despite the negative consequences caused by their use.

What Are the Signs of Cannabis Abuse?

Recognising an addiction to cannabis is the first step to overcoming it. If you are concerned a loved one has a problem with cannabis, it is important to know the common signs of cannabis abuse. These signs can include: bloodshot/glassy eyes, increased appetite, decreased motivation, trouble holding conversations, paranoid behaviour, acting nervous, delayed reaction time, and spending increased time isolated from others. Panic attacks are another negative side effect of increased cannabis consumption.

image showing young people enjoying their sober life after Cannabis Addiction Treatment

Perhaps the biggest sign of cannabis abuse is the need a person will display to get high, no matter what the consequences are because of it. This could include a decrease in productivity, using cannabis at work, feeling the need to use cannabis before performing regular daily activities, and not feeling normal without it. Someone with a cannabis problem might feel they need to use to get motivated to start their day.

The Symptoms of Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug worldwide. While many people use cannabis recreationally, there are a small percentage that develop a dependency on it. Cannabis dependence occurs in 9 percent of people who use it regularly. Symptoms of cannabis addiction include:

  • Trouble thinking and concentrating
  • Altered perception of reality
  • Difficulty learning
  • Problems focusing
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased Fear
  • Delayed Reaction Time
  • Poor memory
  • Decreased reaction time

Regular, long-term use of cannabis is most often what leads to abuse and addiction. Most people who smoke cannabis the first few times will not develop an addiction. When the use of cannabis becomes consistent however, it can easily lead to addiction in those who are prone to it.

Cannabis Withdrawal

People who have developed an addiction to cannabis may want to stop, yet find they are unable to do so. When people who have become dependent on cannabis try to stop they will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms could include:

  • Irritability
  • Inability to focus
  • Lethargy
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia

A 1979 experiment gave people a daily dose of 210mg or THC to a group of volunteers over a four-week period. After the experiment was over and the volunteers were no longer taking THC on a daily basis, they showed to be easily irritated, uncooperative, and “sometimes hostile.” It’s believed these symptoms that lasted approximately three weeks were due to withdrawal.

The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal will be different for everyone. While people with mild cases of cannabis addiction may be able to quit on their own, people who have been using for a long time could benefit from getting help. A medical detox can help those with critical cases of cannabis addiction as the first step to lasting recovery.

How Long Does Withdrawal from Cannabis Last?

The length a person detoxes from cannabis is dependent on their individual circumstances. Typically, withdrawal begins the first day after a person quits and can last from 24-72 hours. The first few days tend to be the most difficult, with all withdrawal symptoms ceasing after 3-4 weeks.

Why choose eata.org.uk?

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

Help for Cannabis Addiction in the UK

We understand that cannabis addiction can seriously interfere with a person’s quality of life and wellbeing. If you or someone you love is struggling with cannabis abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Whether you want to call our drug addiction helpline for a confidential chat to your questions concerning your cannabis abuse or are looking for different treatment options, we are here to guide you in the right direction.

No one should be subject to cannabis addiction. If you feel your cannabis use is out of control, there are ways to take your freedom back. We can answer any questions you have and offer the non-judgmental support you need. Understanding your cannabis addiction is the first step to getting over it. Please call us toll-free to see how easy it can be to overcome your cannabis addiction for good.