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Decoding Cannabis Addiction: Understanding the Basics

In recent years we have seen a shift when it comes to thoughts and perceptions around cannabis. What was once considered an illegal substance is now considered a “soft’ drug and has gained popularity in both medicinal and recreational use. Now, it is widely accepted, often thought of as “cool”, and there are misconceptions that it is completely harmless. 
Cannabis addiction

We often hear people say, “I just use it to relax. I’ve been smoking for years, and I am fine. It’s not a serious drug.” etc etc. But when you can’t go a day without it, you have a problem. You are no longer in control; the drug is! Often cloaked in myths of harmlessness, the reality of cannabis addiction is a huge concern and affects people across various demographics and walks of life.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is known by many names like marijuana, weed, pot and dope and is a psychoactive substance derived from the hemp plant. It is generally smoked and added to food – from cakes and biscuits to sweets. 

Containing THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), it produces effects that can range in intensity depending on quantity and strain. Cannabis gives feelings of euphoria alongside physical relaxation. This may sound fabulous, but behind that lurks a path of self-destruction that is challenging to overcome. 

We should never underestimate the potentially devastating mental addiction risks that come with cannabis use, especially when used excessively. 

Cannabis Addiction: The Reality Behind the Smoke

Cannabis addiction, while often underestimated, is a genuine and significant condition. It’s characterised by a pattern of compulsive use, despite the negative consequences on one’s health, social life, and overall well-being. As cannabis becomes more accessible and socially acceptable, understanding and acknowledging the potential for addiction is crucial.

Psychological Effects

The psychological grip of cannabis addiction can be profound, and users often experience the following effects:

Mood fluctuations: These can range from temporary euphoria to deep states of depression when not used.

Increased anxiety: Ironically, while many people use cannabis for its calming effects, chronic use can actually exacerbate anxiety disorders and even cause paranoia.

Cognitive impairments: Excessive cannabis use leads to difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and diminished cognitive functions. These are all common among long-term users.

Motivational syndrome: Users often experience a significant decrease in motivation and interest in activities they once found enjoyable.

But perhaps most alarming is the risk of cannabis-induced psychosis with symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of touch with reality. Furthermore, research suggests that cannabis use, especially in young adults, can precipitate the early onset of schizophrenia for those at risk.

Physical Consequences of Cannabis Addiction

The physical effects of prolonged cannabis use should never be overlooked, and they often include some of the following:

Respiratory issues: Similar to tobacco, smoking cannabis causes harm to your lungs, leading to chronic bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

Altered brain development: Research shows that adolescents who use cannabis may experience altered brain development, affecting cognitive function and emotional health.

Dependency: Just like any drug, you can easily become dependent on cannabis. In other words, your body may crave cannabis to feel normal. This can lead to physical withdrawal symptoms like irritability, sleep problems, and appetite challenges when you stop using.

Social and Behavioral Impact: Life in the Weeds

Any substance abuse doesn’t just affect the user; it impacts those around you. When you suffer from a cannabis addiction, you are likely to have strained relationships, experience an impact on your professional life and your financial situation. This can all be attributed to your compulsion to prioritise your cannabis use over any other responsibilities you may have.

Relationship strain: Withdrawal from family and friends, often due to time spent using or obtaining cannabis.

Academic or professional decline: Decreased performance and interest in studies or work.

Financial issues: Problems may arise due to the financial cost of sustaining your addiction.

The Road to Recovery

Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward recovery. Fortunately, there are various treatment options, including therapy and support groups, that can help anyone struggling to overcome a cannabis addiction. Recovery is a personal journey, one that requires support, patience, and resilience.

Cannabis addiction is a complex issue and is not defined by the substance alone but by your relationship with it. We need to remember that behind the cloud of cannabis smoke lie real people facing real challenges. 

Cannabis Addiction: What to expect on your road to recovery

Embarking on the journey of recovery from cannabis addiction is a significant step towards regaining control over your life. It’s a path marked with challenges, learning, and profound personal growth. 

Beginning the Journey

Acknowledgement and Decision to Change: Recovery starts with acknowledging the problem and making a conscious decision to change. This crucial first step requires courage and honesty.

Detoxification Phase

Physical Withdrawal: The initial phase involves detoxification, where your body adjusts to the absence of cannabis. Symptoms may include restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, and cravings. This period is challenging but remember it is temporary.

Rehabilitation Process

Emotional and Psychological Support: After detox, the focus will shift to understanding the root causes of your addiction. Therapy sessions, whether individual, group or family-based, will go a long way to helping you address the underlying issues and teach you coping strategies.

Developing New Habits

Building a New Routine: Recovery involves creating a new, healthy lifestyle. Filling the void left by cannabis and reducing your risk of relapse is critical. This can be achieved by incorporating regular exercise, hobbies, and social activities into your new lifestyle!

Support Systems

Leveraging Support Networks: Strong support from friends, family, and support groups like Narcotics Anonymous is invaluable. We have found that sharing experiences and struggles with those who understand can provide comfort and encouragement.

The journey of recovery from cannabis addiction is unique for everyone. It’s a road that tests limits but also reveals untapped strength and resilience. While challenges are part of the journey, the rewards of a healthier, more fulfilling life are beyond measure. With the right support and a commitment to change, anyone can navigate this path successfully.

Our approach

At Connection Mental Healthcare, we provide professional support for individuals struggling with cannabis addiction: an issue that can have grave psychological and physical consequences.

Our committed team takes a hands-on approach to help our clients break the cycle of dependency and reclaim their lives. Through personal guidance, effective treatments, and medical care – recovery is always possible.

You are not alone on this journey. As South Africa’s top rehab, Connection Mental Health Care is here to provide the highest standard of care and support as you embark on the path to recovery. Your well-being is our top priority, and we look forward to being part of your transformative journey.

Contact Us:

Reach out to our caring team today. We’re ready to listen, understand your unique needs, and guide you toward a brighter, healthier future.

Support a Loved One:

If you have a family member or friend who is battling an addiction, let them know that they don’t have to face it by themselves. Encourage them to seek help from professionals who care.

At Connection Mental Healthcare, we’re committed to providing the resources and support needed for individuals and their families navigating the challenging journey towards recovery. Let’s work together to break the stigma and create a pathway to healing.

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