Cannabis is a drug that is perceived largely as harmless and is widely accepted around the world; many countries legalised its use. As a class B drug in the UK, it is illegal to possess and supply it. Possession of a classified drug can carry a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment. Yet despite the drug being classified under the law; it is still very much available in the UK with dealers even growing the drug on their own property.
Thanks to the numerous pro-cannabis sites and articles, the drug tends to be seen through rose-tinted glasses and only for its beneficial effects. Little is publicised on the damaging and long term implications smoking cannabis can have. Just because it is commonly used and easy to obtain, much like alcohol, if used to excess, it can be extremely damaging, particularly to the user’s mental health.
Most cannabis users will give any number of reasons why they believe it is safe to use, and so justify continuing to use it. However if the individual is an addict, as with any other substance, they will use cannabis to excess and as a solution to how they feel inside. It is the excessive use and the lifestyle that they tend to submerge themselves into that causes no end of problems.
Cannabis isn’t physically addictive as such, the dependence tend to be psychological for its effects. For any addict, of any substance, whether it be alcohol, cannabis or a class A drug, the problem centres in the individual’s mind and not the actual drug itself. Think about it: Why is it most individuals can safely drink and use drugs without enormous consequences? Yet for others the drug becomes “their everything” and yet takes everything from them.
Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease; even when the consequences of the addiction have devastating effects to the user’s mental, physical, emotional, social and financial well being, they are compelled to carry on with their addiction. Whilst there is no medical detox for cannabis addiction as such, Primrose Lodge recognise that withdrawal from cannabis is likely to cause some anxiety and insomnia. We therefore assess each individual comprehensively on admission and where there is a need, our doctor will prescribe the patient a short medical detox to assist with the withdrawal symptoms. Our patient’s safety and comfort is paramount, so we take every measure possible to ensure this.
All forms of cannabis are derived from the Cannabis plant, and there are many. Cannabis can come in a grass-like form, liquid oil or solid form. It is known under many different names on the street such as: Hash, Marijuana, Blunt, Blow, Pot, Weed, Dope, Joint, Blunt, Spliff, Gunja and Hashish.
As well as pure cannabis being available, synthetic cannabis is produced under many different names and forms as Legal Highs. Legal highs are just, if not more, dangerous. They lull the user into a false sense of security, as they are taking a drug that is legal and therefore believe it must be safe. An example of this is the synthetic cannabinoid – Spice. Spice has received a lot of negative press and attention due to it having extremely addictive properties. Many individuals started to smoke Spice under the illusion that it was a safe legal drug. The reality is that users find it incredibly difficult to stop, with the withdrawal effects resembling a heroin detox. Users of synthetic cannabinoids, never actually know what they are smoking. As many forms of Spice became classified as a class B drug, the manufacturers altered the chemical compound a fraction and released it under a different name as a legal drug again. This is how the legal high manufacturers stay one step ahead of the law.
Cannabis in its legal and non-legal forms causes huge problems when the user develops an addiction. All forms of cannabis contain the psychoactive chemical THC, in varying amounts. Below are the 3 main forms of pure cannabis, derived from the cannabis plant:
Cannabis Resin– Usually smoked in a joint or through a bong, cannabis resin comes in a solid pressed form and in varying shades of brown/black in appearance. This form is commonly known as hash or hashish. As well as being smoked, it can also be added to food and eaten. Resin is taken directly from the Cannabis plant
Herbal Cannabis – Herbal cannabis is taken from the flowers of the Cannabis plant. Its appearance is similar to that of dried grass and often has a very pungent smell that lingers. Often referred to as weed, skunk or grass, it comes vacuum-packed, in small bags or wraps. The user of this form will usually mix it with tobacco and smoke from a joint or a pipe.
Cannabis Oil – The dark sticky oil is the least common form out of the three types, but it is also the most potent in terms of the plant’s psychoactive substance THC. Usually it is added to food, ointments and to potions. Taken from the sticky buds of the Cannabis Sativa plant, cannabis oil tends to be used more for medicinal purposes, whereas the other two forms are popular for recreational use
Out of the three main forms of Cannabis, Skunk (Herbal Cannabis) tends to cause the most problems, due to its high levels of THC. Smoking Skunk carries a higher risk of developing mental health issues than the weaker strains available.
Smoking Cannabis regularly or excessively carries the risk of developing a mental health illness; not only in the short term whilst the drug is being used still, but also in the long term…long after the drug has been stopped. Used through the ages for its medicinal properties, cannabis is widely used recreationally for its relaxing and mind altering effects. Seen as harmless by many users, it is often referred to as a natural and herbal drug. For individuals with addictive tendencies, it is anything but safe. They will find it almost impossible to stop without the aid of professional help.
Scientifically, it has been proven that users who start smoking in their teenage years are at the highest risk of developing mental health issues and a lowered IQ. This is due to the fact, that up until early adulthood, the brain is still in its developmental stage and is particularly vulnerable to substances. Teenagers in particular and those who have a predisposition to developing addiction or other mental health related disorders are at high risk of developing illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. For some, these conditions cannot be reversed, even when the cannabis has been stopped, permanent changes to the brain remain.
If you are wondering if you or a loved one may have an addiction to cannabis, there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for. Users of Cannabis will present a glazed, red and droopy-eyed appearance. They are likely to smell of the drug, as it clings to clothes, hair and furnishings. The effects produced by cannabis on the user are often referred to as being “stoned”. Those under the influence will have slowed and slurred speech, their emotional and physical reactions are delayed and they will suffer a decrease in motivation. Heavy users or users of a concentrated form will often appear confused, unfocused, and may even struggle to hold a conversation. They will lose periods of time and become extremely forgetful. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, addiction is a progressive illness with ever-increasing consequences. Delaying treatment can lead to the development of an irreversible mental health condition; leading the sufferer to become very depressed, isolated and even suicidal. If you or your loved one are experiencing any of the following, it is vital that you seek professional help and treatment without delay:
If cannabis is causing you or a family member distress, please call our clinic and ask for help. We provide a full cannabis rehabilitation and relapse prevention program. Primrose Lodge use the latest in proven and highly effective cannabis addiction treatments. Our highly trained and dedicated counsellors and therapists will devise a personalised care plan, designed to treat the root causes of the addiction and the individual’s thinking. Our prescribing doctor will conduct a full assessment and treat any mental health issues that are presenting accordingly. Our rehab programme is designed to restore the individual to full physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Whilst undergoing treatment, you or your loved one will be in the safe hands of our professional, medical and therapeutic staff. Please speak to a member of our clinical team for more information.
“When I was admitted to Primrose Lodge I was smoking skunk daily; I was completely paranoid and felt very, very scared. I had attempted to stop several times, but failed; I knew it was killing me yet couldn’t help myself. The staff were amazing, so understanding and caring. Something magical happened whist I underwent treatment; the obsession to use left me and has never returned. I now live my life free from cannabis and embrace every moment as a second chance. I was ready to take my own life; thanks to them, I am learning to live again”