Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug across the UK, with over 5 million people admitting to having consumed cannabis between April and June 2019. The long-standing argument about whether cannabis should be legalised in the UK is ongoing, with many believing there are no real negative side effects of the drug. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the most common misconceptions about cannabis and debunking them.
You Can/Can’t Get Addicted to Cannabis
Whilst many people believe cannabis is not an addictive substance and therefore you cannot become addicted to it, this is false. Users of cannabis can, and do, become both physically and emotionally dependent on the drug over time.
Unfortunately, cannabis addictions can go much more unnoticed than addictions to other drugs such as cocaine or heroin as regular consumption of weed is becoming more and more normalised, particularly among younger people and the withdrawal symptoms are far less severe than stronger drugs, though this does not mean that they aren’t very real and very difficult to cope with for many people.
Common Signs Of Cannabis Addiction Are:
- Continuing to misuse cannabis despite any negative repercussions
- Trying but failing to stop or reduce cannabis use
- Using cannabis even in unsafe circumstances, such as when driving
- Becoming secretive or lying to hide drug use
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Spending time with new groups of people who frequently use cannabis
- Lack of hygiene and effort made towards physical appearance
- Problems with concentration and focus
- Delayed responsiveness
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal symptoms
When chronic cannabis users stop using, they can experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, cold sweats, stomach pains and headaches, This is because the brain’s reward circuit adapts to the supply of HTC and develops a tolerance to it over time, meaning the brain must readjust back when the supply is stopped, resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Medicinal Cannabis is the Same as Recreational Cannabis
Medicinal cannabis is GMP certified, ensuring the highest quality with a known composition and potency of THC:CBD. Additionally, the regulation and licensing of cannabis-based medicinal products in the UK is carried out by the Home Office Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency.
Cannabis bought on the street or from an unlicensed provider for other purposes such as recreational use is not regulated and the composition and potency of THC:CBD is usually unknown. In addition, unregulated cannabis may contain harmful contaminants e.g. heavy metal, pesticides and mould as many dealers wish to make more money with a lack of care for the consumer.
Cannabis is Harmless
Those in favour of the legalisation of cannabis frequently argue that cannabis isn’t harmful or that it is far less harmful than alcohol and should therefore be made legal, however, this isn’t entirely true.
Research into the long-term effects of cannabis over 30 years has found that cannabis does in fact have negative long term effects, particularly on those who begin to use the drug during their teenage years.
According to the NHS, smoking cannabis increases the risk of developing mental health problems such as schizophrenia, with those who used cannabis over 50 times before the age of 18 becoming three times more likely to develop schizophrenia around the age of 45.
The frequency of use and the potency of the drug is also believed to be a contributing factor in the risk of developing psychosis. This comes after King’s College London conducted a study that found that those who smoke high-strength cannabis on a daily bases were five times more at risk of developing psychosis due to the way in which the white matter in the brain is subtly changed when cannabis is consumed, impairing communication between the two sides of the brain.
This is down to the way in which cannabis produces the high. THC is the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis and it latches onto the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found in the part of the brain which is responsible for coordination and movement. Frequent use of high-strength THC can overstimulate the endocannabinoid system, interfering with the brain’s functions, leading to long-term effects.
Amir Englund, a cannabis researcher at King’s College London, said:
“Too much activity usually leads to what we call down-regulation of the system. This can be a way in which the endocannabinoid system gets disrupted by heavy, long-term use of stronger cannabis, and is less able to function as it should.”
The risk of long-term effects is even greater for those under the age of 25, due to the fact that their brains are still in the process of developing and cannabis can interfere with this process, leading to problems with memory, problem-solving and concentration.
Cannabis use in excess has also been linked with other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and paranoia, especially for those who are more genetically vulnerable i.e. have a family history of poor mental health. For many, the short-lived pleasant feelings of a quick high aren’t worth the long-term risks of psychosis or disabling disorders such as schizophrenia.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know may be addicted to cannabis, get in touch with Acquiesce today for a free consultation to discuss the recovery options available to you.