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Giving up Cannabis - The Facts

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK. Almost half of all 16 to 29-year-olds have tried the drug at least once. It is reckoned over 2 million people regularly smoke cannabis in the UK.

Natural doesn't mean safe

Many people don't see cannabis as dangerous and see it as a harmless, relaxing pursuit, despite information being freely available about the risk to health. Research by the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows that one in 10 marijuana smokers have had bad experiences whilst taking the drug including symptoms such as hallucinations, panic attacks and short-term memory loss. Using cannabis over an extended period of time can cause depression. This so-called "soft" drug can cause or trigger other psychotic conditions, for example schizophrenia in those who have a genetic disposition to mental illness.

Trying to give up cannabis can be very difficult.  Common symptoms include

  • mood swings
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite/weight loss
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • hot flushes
  • panic attacks

The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are similar to nicotine. It is seen as clinically significant as it may impede on the everyday life of the addicted user and the chance of relapse is high. Someone withdrawing from cannabis may find it hard to focus and may suffer from a decreased attention span.

Many people see cannabis as natural and therefore not harmful addictive. Of course, this is far from the case and heavy cannabis users soon find that their use of the drug spills over into all areas of their life. Motivation can be at an all-time low, and the addict may pay less attention to their own personal appearance, hygiene and the general cleanliness and tidiness of their home.

There are different approaches to treating cannabis addiction. Cannabis addiction has a high relapse rate and it is a very hard habit to break. It is often the routine of smoking that The addict finds difficult to stop and may find themselves smoking cannabis "joints" as if they were cigarettes. Interestingly, and somewhat worryingly it has been noticed that those giving up cannabis will more than likely greatly increase their consumption of nicotine.

Helping Cannabis Addiction

When treating cannabis addiction, the addict may benefit from residential rehab. A course of treatment in a residential rehab centre will help break the physical and psychological addiction. Developing and teaching appropriate strategies to cope with triggers and resist relapse is one of the most important parts of rehab. Relapse rates area particularly high amongst habitual cannabis users and they may find temptation difficult to resist. Long term cannabis users may have very little regard for the future and be more inclined to habits which mean immediate gratification and may need help gaining perspective. Counselling will be the prime factor in any rehab program as the reasons underlying the addiction are identified and  addressed.

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