Cannabis is the most commonly consumed illegal drug in the UK, with 7.2% of Brits aged 16 to 59 (around 2.4 million) using it in the last year. It has long been established as a relatively socially acceptable (to the extent that a strong popular movement for its legalisation has existed for many years) illicit alternative or supplement to alcohol as a means of relaxation and of enjoyment, and there is a popular belief that cannabis is a “harmless” drug whose suppression by the state is archaic and unjust. However, cannabis can and does ruin lives; countless users find themselves psychologically dependent upon the drug and the effects of long-term consumption can leave people isolated, apathetic and depressed.
Fortunately, plenty of resources now exist around the UK which can help people whose lives are being blighted by the problematic abuse of cannabis. If you feel you or a loved one need help to stop using the drug, reach out today and let an addiction specialist assist you getting back on the path to a healthy, happy, drug-free life.
In the simplest terms, you need treatment for cannabis addiction if you feel that your consumption of cannabis is having a detrimental impact upon your life; you would like to stop; and you have tried to stop but have been unable to do so.
Cannabis is psychologically addictive: that is, its consumption has the potential to become habitual, and users may find themselves feeling reliant upon cannabis to feel “normal” – and feel a compulsion to continue consuming it despite the negative consequences for them associated with that consumption. Their brain’s reward system adjusts to the regular presence of cannabis (more correctly, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC) in the system, and repeated consumption of the drug triggers the release of chemicals such as dopamine which create feelings of contentment and wellbeing; conversely, the absence of cannabis causes a deficiency of those chemicals, which leave a cannabis addict feeling emotionally down and irritable until they are able to consume the drug once more.
If you experience such an emotional downturn – or display any other recognised withdrawal symptoms, which can include aggression and sleep disorders – in the absence of consuming cannabis, or if your cannabis consumption is having deleterious effects on your relationships with others, your job, your financial circumstances, your physical or mental health, and/or your self-esteem, and you have been unable to stop consuming it when you have tried to do so, you need to get treatment for your cannabis addiction.
There are a great many approaches to the treatment of addiction, as a quick search on the internet will reveal – but only some of these are approved by medical professionals (whilst some are downright dangerous for the patient), and some tend to result in only short-term success, with the addict relapsing before much time has passed. The most effective treatment, resulting in long-term success, is generally considered to be residential rehabilitation (“rehab”).
Rehab offers addicts the opportunity to begin their recovery from addiction in a dedicated facility, away from the temptations of the outside world and their cannabis-consuming and -supplying network. The first stage in every treatment programme is a period of detoxification (“detox”), in which the user’s system is cleansed of cannabis and any other substances of abuse; detox can also be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms, some of which may pose a danger to the addict, so this phase should always be undergone with the assistance of medical professionals: at rehab, such assistance is onsite 24/7.
Once detox is complete, rehab patients can begin therapy, whilst enjoying the benefits of a calm, secluded setting in which they can focus fully on their recovery. They will also receive bespoke dietary and fitness plans – a healthy body being a vital corollary to a healthy mind – and may attend group workshops – all in a completely confidential environment, so they need not worry about their situation becoming common knowledge outside the facility.
At Primrose Lodge, our world-class addiction treatment facility in Surrey, patients enjoy luxurious surroundings and a cutting-edge cannabis treatment programme run by highly experienced staff. A broad range of therapy models are available, included the standard cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), 12 step therapy and group therapy as well as less mainstream options such as art therapy; as each patient is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all therapy template and our specialists will work with each patient to develop the therapy programme which is right for them. As part of our programme you will undergo a medical drug detox to rid yourself of cannabis before embarking on your recovery.
Primrose Lodge also provides a unique Family Recovery Programme aimed at rebuilding a loving family environment in which an addict’s recovery can continue. Families often suffer terribly due to the addiction of a loved one; our Family Recovery Programme offers family members individual therapy with a qualified addiction counsellor and the addict, in order to let everyone concerned have their say about the troubles of the past, and begin to work together to ensure a happier and more loving future.
Roughly speaking, a ten-day stay at Primrose Lodge rehab costs somewhere between £3,500 week, depending on a number of factors. The overall cost of rehab depends, logically, on how long a patient stays at the facility: a typical stay would be 30 days, but many patients end up remaining in rehab for up to three months or even longer, if they feel that they are not yet far enough along the recovery path to deal with the temptations of the outside world.
Nobody should contemplate rehab in the belief that it is an inexpensive option: quality treatment and round-the-clock care do cost money, and for some people that cost can initially be daunting. However, the cost of an addiction – which may last years – will inevitably be significantly greater – and that is only in financial terms. The intangible cost – to health, relationships and life prospects – is unquantifiable, and rehab is likely to be one of the greatest investments you will ever make.
Some of the advantages of rehab include:
Some disadvantages include:
Private rehabs are not the only option for people struggling with cannabis addiction: the NHS has a range of services to help those with substance abuse disorders, while various charities also work in this field (and some may provide funding for private rehab itself).
Your first port of call should always be your GP, who can assess your situation and discuss the options available to you in your area. While NHS funds are increasingly limited, and waiting times can be very discouraging, it’s always a good idea at least to get an understanding of what services you may be able to access.
Compass is a registered charity that works in communities across the country to provide support and wellbeing services to people of all ages struggling with substance misuse; see www.compass-uk.org for more. Meanwhile, CGL (Change, Grow, Live) is another charity, providing support, treatment and rehabilitation programs for people with drug addictions; see www.changegrowlive.org.
If you visit your GP seeking help with a cannabis addiction, you can ask to be referred for counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, local drug and alcohol services and even rehab; even if you don’t request this, your GP may refer you if s/he thinks you are in a sufficiently parlous state to require treatment. However, unfortunately this is by no means a “magic wand” which can resolve all your problems: a referral can take a very long time – possibly several months depending on the demand for services in your area – before you are able to see a counsellor or get an assessment for other services. Moreover, the counsellor to whom you are referred may not specialise in addiction treatment.
In the case of cannabis, there is no medicine which a doctor can prescribe which can “cure” an addiction; resolving that condition almost invariably requires therapy (which is why that is such an important aspect of rehab). However, certain medication may be prescribed to treat some of the mental health issues which can arise from cannabis addiction (or contribute to its development), and/or which emerge during withdrawal. For example, those struggling with depression might be prescribed a course of anti-depressants; sleep disorders may be treated with certain benzodiazepines; in the most serious cases, anti-psychotics may be prescribed to deal with psychosis which may have been brought on or exacerbated by heavy cannabis use.
Some of the advantages of medication are:
Some disadvantages include:
Drug addiction is a widespread illness and recovering and former addicts are to be found throughout the country. Many get together on a regular basis in fellowship groups to provide each other with emotional support against temptation, to provide advice on continuing to lead a healthy and drug-free life, and simply for companionship and mutual enjoyment.
Some fellowship groups focussing on substance abuse have been around for many years and have great experience in providing support to recovering addicts. Two of the most prominent which may be of particular interest and use to cannabis addicts are Marijuana Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Both these groups follow the 12-step program which is the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the oldest and best-known fellowship group, and have helped many thousands of users since their inception. They provide free meetings throughout the UK and the only requirement for attendance is a dedication to stop using cannabis.
MA and NA provide a non-judgemental environment in which recovering cannabis addicts can discuss their situations, open up about difficult and challenging experiences, and ask for advice on particular situations which they are finding difficult. Those attending can feel confident that those they’re speaking with truly understand what they have been through and the nature of their daily struggles, and may feel much more inclined to speak frankly and place trust in others than they might in a group comprising people who have not lived the life of a cannabis abuser. They can also develop relationships with people who can act as sponsors or emergency support if they feel that they are likely to relapse: sometimes merely phoning a friend for a chat can dispel that craving.
Some of the pros of support groups include:
Some cons include:
Alongside therapy at rehab facilities or that provided by the NHS, a large number of independent private addiction counsellors operate in the UK, treating patients from all demographics. Addiction counsellors offer a range of different therapies (with some specialising in niche approaches which may benefit addicts who have failed to find benefits from mainstream therapy) and may provide both one-to-one talk ad behavioural therapy and group settings (with patients potentially attending both types). Counsellors may or may not be medically qualified; addicts should research the credentials of anyone they are contemplating seeing before beginning any treatment.
Some counsellors operate completely independently, while others are members of networks with centralised marketing and admin; either way, patients usually pay by the session, typically for one session a week (although this may vary significantly). There may be a minimum commitment (six sessions is not uncommon) and payment for those sessions may be requested upfront. Counsellors are sometimes happy to make themselves available on an emergency basis, but in general their services are usually limited to appointments within office hours. Addiction counsellors are typically considered most useful for people attempting to manage an addiction rather than overcoming it, or for people in recovery who need ongoing support.
Some of the advantages of private addiction counselling are:
Some disadvantages are:
Finding the right service for the treatment of an addiction can be extremely intimidating – especially when you are wrestling with the problems caused by the addiction itself. Most people find consulting their GP or an addiction specialist to be a useful starting point.
While every case of addiction is unique, and each individual addict responds differently to different therapies, it is generally accepted that rehab provides the most successful treatment in terms of positive long-term results and permanent abstinence from cannabis, even on the part of very long-term users. The presence of highly trained medical personal as you go through detox and withdrawal; the ability to relax in beautiful and peaceful surroundings as you focus on your recovery; the assurance of complete confidentiality; the provision of bespoke dietary and fitness plans; comprehensive family support; and full free aftercare are all benefits which only rehab can provide.
Whatever the approach you settle on in the end, your long-term recovery plan should always incorporate attendance at and participation in fellowship groups; the support – and perhaps friendship – of peers who understand your experience and your struggle is truly invaluable in ensuring you stay on the road to recovery and do not allow yourself to be derailed by relapse.