Cannabis addiction

Cannabis or marijuana also known as weed, skunk, hash, dope, is derived from the cannabis plant. Is the most common recreational drug and usually smoked in spliffs, inhaled in bongs, or eaten (edibles) and more recently vaped. Cannabis has been more widely used for medicinal purposes for neurological disorders and has been legalised in an increasing amount of countries to date.

In the UK, there has been an increase in potency of THC in cannabis over recent years which have contributed to more mental health complications.

When someone smokes Cannabis, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain. THC acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain, producing a series of reactions that ultimately lead to the highs.

  • Symptoms

    How does it make you feel?

    The effects of cannabis can vary massively. Some people say feeling ‘stoned’ makes them feel chilled out and happy in their own thoughts, while others say it makes them giggly and chatty. But it can also make people feel lethargic, unmotivated and some people become paranoid, confused and anxious.

    It comprises of chemicals such as THC – the psychoactive component that can give rise to euphoria, altered mind state, but also can cause short term memory loss, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis and anxiety whilst other complication if smoked include chronic lung and heart disease.

    Whilst the helpful or therapeutic components are the cannabinoids like CBD which can help with anxiety, seizure disorders, nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy and pain management with increasingly wider and more mainstream use in the right quantities and ratios.

  • Effects and Health risks

    Abusing Cannabis can result in problems with memory, learning mood and social behaviour.

    It can interfere with family, school, work, and other activities. Research has shown that Cannabis has adverse impact on learning and memory that can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. Thus, a person who smokes Cannabis every day may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level all the time.

    Long-term Cannabis misuse can lead to addiction. Cannabis is also commonly referred to as a ‘gateway drug’ that destigmatizes or demystifies the idea of drug use, making cannabis users more susceptible to misuse other illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens or methamphetamines.

    Additionally, when long-term cannabis users try to stop, they often suffer with a number of unpleasant symptoms. The desire to stop these withdrawal symptoms leads many people back into ongoing cannabis use:

    • Irritability
    • Sleeplessness
    • Decreased appetite, which can trigger disordered eating
    • Anxiety
    • Drug craving

    Cancer of the lungs is also linked to cannabis use because unfiltered cannabis smoke has more cancer-causing ‘carcinogens’ than cigarettes.

  • Signs to look out for

    Behavioural changes that may be symptoms of Cannabis Addiction include:

    • Distorted perceptions
    • Impaired coordination
    • Difficulty in thinking and problem solving
    • Ongoing problems with learning and memory
    • Additionally,several other signs of Cannabis Addiction are frequently visible in users:
    • Red, blurry, bloodshot eyes
    • Constant, mucus-filled cough
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Hunger, referred to as munchies
    • Dry mouth
    • Anxiety, paranoia, or fear
    • Poor memory
    • Poor coordination
    • Slow reaction time
  • Detox and Withdrawal

    Cannabis withdrawal can be drawn out. Although physical symptoms may be predominant initially, it takes weeks for the body to be clear all traces of cannabis and reaching a new balance of chemicals in the brain and body may mean both physical and particularly mental health symptoms may take longer to improve.

    Physical

    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Nausea / decreased appetite
    • Abdominal pain
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Mental:

    • Irritability
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Restlessness
    • Cravings

    At The Bonds Clinic, we try hard to control the withdrawal symptoms from cannabis during a detox and we are proud of the feedback that our patients give us on the Bonds detox process. We specialise in detox usually over 1 week using non-addictive medication to make it as comfortable as possible. Published evidence shows that even an early version of the Bonds protocols was very well tolerated in opioid detox, for example, and opioid detox is notoriously unpleasant, often worse than a detox for cannabis: of note, 97% of patients did not report pain during a Bonds detox from opioids. (reference again as before: Beaini AY et al (2000, October). A compressed opiate detoxification regime with naltrexone maintenance: patient tolerance, risk assessment and abstinence rates. Addiction Biology, 1;5(4):451-62 ).

    Once the drugs are out of your system, you can then have oral naltrexone which can reduce cravings for cannabis and a wide range of other misuse, both prescription and non-prescription drug or alcohol misuse, and therefore naltrexone may be useful to support abstinence.

Advice from our consultant

Programme model

Programme model

Our programme model is tailored to the individual’s needs. Our detox varies depending on whether the substance is a lone problem or is accompanied by misuse of other substances, the amount the patient is using, and if there any underlying mental health issues. The internal audits of the BONDS treatment protocols of many years have shown that approximately 70% of patients with alcohol or substance misuse also have an underlying mental health disorder. This combination of addiction and a mental health disorder is called Dual Diagnosis. A typical detox program at The Bonds Clinic consists of a 7-14 day with dual diagnosis assessment, then an out-patient consolidation & relapse prevention stage including talking therapy, and often includes Naltrexone therapy.

View programme model

Meet the team

Our core multi-disciplinary team is led by a Consultant Psychiatrist, specialised GPs and includes a Registered Mental Health Nurse and a Substance Misuse and Dual Diagnosis Practitioner and Therapist. We also work with a network of highly skilled practitioners to develop a personal treatment programme to suit you.

Meet the team
Meet the team

Know someone with an addiction?

The BONDS Clinic work with you and your family, offering a comprehensive Family Support Program.It can be challenging if a loved one has an addiction; it can sometimes have a negative effect on relationships, home environments and family dynamics. It may be difficult to spot the signs and how best to approach them and help them on a path towards recovery. The BONDS Clinic feel that we should all be empowered to support and seek treatment for our loved ones when they need it most but also remember we are here for you as well. If you think a loved one may have an addiction, we are here to help.

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