Rehab 4 Addiction

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, also commonly known as weed or pot, is an illegal class B drug. The substance is derived from a species of plant which belongs to the nettle family and is the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK.

Cannabis can be ingested in a variety of ways, and it’s often smoked (on its own or combined with tobacco), drank after being infused with water, or consumed after being mixed into food.

Cannabis can have a significant impact on your mood and behaviour once it’s consumed. The changes are caused by the chemicals within cannabis, which are called cannabinoids.

The two main cannabinoids in the drug are tetrahydrocannabinol which is known as THC, and cannabidiol which is known as CBD.

The two chemicals each have different effects on mood and behaviour.

THC is the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis. The chemical has several effects which can lead to an unwanted psychoactive impact, potentially causing hallucinations and heightening feelings of paranoia.

Different samples of cannabis have varying levels of THC and the higher the concentration of THC, the more of an effect the consumption of the drug will have on your cognitive state and behaviour.

The other main cannabinoid in cannabis, CBD, has very different impacts from THC.

When the concentration of CBD is higher in a sample of cannabis, the effect of THC is lowered due to CBD’s non-psychoactive properties which can include a reduction in feelings of anxiety.

The impacts of using cannabis can last for several hours and can be unpleasant.

The drug can alter the user’s perception of the world around them, and make it seem as if time is passing more slowly than it actually is.

It can also lead to hunger that is difficult to satisfy, as well as a drop in motivation, and disorientation.

In the long term, it’s possible to develop a tolerance to the drug which can lead to it being taken in higher quantities.

Is cannabis addictive?

A minority of people who frequently use cannabis can develop an addiction to the drug, becoming dependent on it for everyday functions.

The drug is especially likely to become addictive to people who begin using the drug early in their life; people who regularly take cannabis in their teens are most at risk of developing a cannabis disorder.

Cannabis addiction can lead to many nasty withdrawal symptoms. People who are dependent on the drug and then stop taking it have reported a wide variety of symptoms including an inability to sleep, a lack of appetite, restlessness, physical discomfort, irritability , and mood swings.

These withdrawal symptoms can continue for up to two weeks before they begin to subside.

Can cannabis impact my mental health?

Due to its unpredictable variety of psychoactive effects, cannabis can have a significant impact on the lives and mental health of users of the drug.

As well as its associations with depression and anxiety, the frequent use of cannabis has been strongly linked to the development of psychotic illness.

Psychotic illnesses are a group of mental disorders that can make it hard to separate reality from hallucinations or imagined perceptions.

They can cause confusion and delusion and can come in the form of hearing voices or seeing disturbing visions.

Large quantities of scientific research have examined the causes of the link between the use of cannabis and psychotic illness.

The development of psychotic illness is strongly correlated with the use of cannabis which has a higher concentration of the cannabinoid chemical THC.

This means that people who used high-strength cannabis, or who used it regularly, are more likely to develop symptoms of psychotic illness.

The exact reasons behind the link aren’t clear, however, there are several well-known ways in which psychotic illnesses can develop.

Does cannabis cause schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is one of the psychotic illnesses that can be triggered by the regular use of cannabis.

The illness inhibits the ability to distinguish between delusions and reality, and people who take cannabis are more likely to develop schizophrenia symptoms which include auditory and visual hallucinations.

These hallucinations can become hugely detrimental to a person’s overall mental health and wellbeing. Hallucinations are correlated with increases in the levels of paranoia and anxiety, which can make everyday functions and tasks more difficult to complete.

On top of this, the use of cannabis can cause a relapse into serious mental illness for a person who is managing schizophrenia through medication or other means.

In addition to the mental health implications, a diagnosis of schizophrenia is also linked with lower physical health outcomes and a lower life expectancy.

How can cannabis withdrawal symptoms affect my mental health?

For a person who is addicted to cannabis, quitting the drug isn’t straightforward. Cannabis’s wide variety of withdrawal symptoms can have a very real negative impact on mental health, due to their strength and the discomfort they can cause.

For example, the common withdrawal symptom of restlessness can persist for up to two weeks.

The symptom can disrupt sleep, work, and personal relationships. It can impact the motivation to complete tasks, and ruin the enjoyment of everyday activities.

These effects of the withdrawal symptom can contribute to stress and have strong negative impacts on mental health.

For regular users of cannabis, the drug itself can be the tool that’s used to relieve stress, which can make the withdrawal process even harder.

Other withdrawal symptoms, like physical discomfort, can impact mental health in a more direct way. A prolonged level of discomfort and pain can have severe repercussions on the quality of life, even over the short term.

For the impact of withdrawal symptoms to be managed, and to avoid them impacting mental health, it’s important to seek advice from a professional drug rehabilitation clinic.

What are the risk factors associated with cannabis?

The risk of developing schizophrenia in cannabis users is especially pronounced if the user of the drug has a family history of the illness.

It’s understood that this is due to a genetic vulnerability to the illness that the cannabinoids in the drug can have an important impact on.

The risk of triggering a psychotic illness through the use of cannabis is also dependent on the age of the cannabis user.

Like with addiction, if someone regularly uses cannabis in their teens, they are more likely to develop a psychotic illness than someone who doesn’t.

Age is a risk factor linked with the use of cannabis because teens are not yet fully developed.

The human brain does not finish its growth until a person reaches their twenties, and so the chemicals within cannabis are more likely to have a significant effect on a teenage brain.

The regular use or consumption of cannabis is more likely to alter the functioning of the brain of teenagers, and contribute to or cause mental illness.

In addition to age, if someone has already struggled with their mental health, the use of cannabis comes with extra risks.

While lots of people think that the use of cannabis will reduce stress, anxiety, and low mood this isn’t necessarily the case.

Due to its side effects, cannabis usage can make matters worse by amplifying feelings of panic and stress.

Will cannabis make me depressed?

Heavy use of the drug especially seems to have a relationship with depression, however, the exact reasons behind the link aren’t yet clear.

While some cannabis users believe the drug can alleviate feelings of depression, research has shown that the frequent use of the drug is linked with increased reports of depression.

Cannabis is also linked with unemployment and dropout rates from education, which could stem from the drug’s impact on motivation.

In addition to feelings of depression, users of cannabis are more likely to report suicidal thoughts and feelings than people who don’t use the drug.

Does using cannabis impact sleep?

Emerging evidence is highlighting the detrimental impact that the use of cannabis can have on healthy sleeping patterns.

Healthy sleeping patterns are really important to well-being and mental health. The recommended amount of sleeping time for an adult in the UK is between 6 and 9 hours, and people who sleep less than that are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, depression, and personal struggles with relationships and work.

People who have less than the recommended amount of sleep are also more likely to develop physical illnesses and have a shorter life expectancy.

One recent study highlighted cannabis’ negative impact on sleep. Compared to people who weren’t using the drug regularly, people who used cannabis 20 or more times in a month were 64% more likely to sleep for less than six hours a night.

This means that the use of cannabis is associated with a sleeping pattern that falls below what is recommended by health experts.

The consequences of an unhealthy sleeping pattern on mental health can be exacerbated by the impacts of cannabis, which can have similar psychological consequences.

The anxiety and depression that are linked with both a poor sleeping pattern and regular cannabis use can combine to have serious and negative effects on a person’s quality of life and mental health.

How can I stop taking cannabis?

Like with many addictive substances, there is a large number of people in the UK who are undergoing rehab for addiction to cannabis.

The drug can have a serious and negative impact on a person’s life, and it’s important to seek professional help when support is needed.

There are many reasons why someone might need support, for example, if the drug is causing hallucinations or depression.

Rehab can help a heavy cannabis user to break an addiction, and learn techniques to stop the use of cannabis and avoid relapses in the future.  

Rehab can provide an effective healing environment, with private rehab clinics achieving higher levels of success than NHS practices which have long waiting lists and can have overcrowded treatment sessions.

A summary of cannabis and its effects

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK.

Cannabis contains two primary chemicals THC and CBD. THC is a chemical that causes unwanted effects, such as paranoia and hallucinations.

Cannabis can have varying levels of strength depending on the concentration of the THC and CBD chemicals.

If the concentration of CBD is higher, the drug is likely to be less strong and have fewer negative impacts.

The drug can be addictive for a minority of users, and dependency can impact the ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

For people who experience addiction to the drug, withdrawal symptoms can be strong and unpleasant, lasting for a significant period of time.

Research has shown that the use of cannabis can have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing, with users of the drug having: higher rates of depression, the risk of relapse into mental illness, and links to the development of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.

Regular use of the drug is shown to be associated with a decline in healthy sleeping patterns, which can have knock-on effects on physical and mental health.

The risk factors are more acute when the drug is used at a young age, as the chemicals within the drug can impact the development of the brain, which is still growing throughout the teenage years.

The risk of developing mental illness is also increased when there is a family history or genetic vulnerability to the illness.

The heavy use of cannabis is also linked with higher rates of depression.

Rehab clinics can help to break the cycle of cannabis use, and beat an addiction to the drug.

References

[1] https://rapm.bmj.com/content/early/2021/11/24/rapm-2021-103161

[2] https://www.irishpsychiatry.ie/external-affairs-policy/public-information/effects-of-cannabis-on-mental-health/the-effects-of-cannabis-on-mental-health/#1613137927636-393f0e96-cb31

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425748/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124674/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414724/

[6] https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/parents-and-young-people/young-people/cannabis-and-mental-health-information-for-young-people

 

 

boris

Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.