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This page was medically reviewed by Stephanie Chick (FDAP), Senior ATP (Addiction Treatment Programme) Therapist at Priory Hospital North London, in July 2020.

Also commonly referred to as 'marijuana', 'grass' and 'weed', cannabis is a mixture of dried leaves, flowers and stems from the cannabis sativa plant and is the most commonly misused illegal substance in the UK. Cannabis is typically smoked, either in a cigarette form or via a pipe, while the drug may also be misused by brewing it in tea or cooking it in certain foods.

Cannabis affects your central nervous system to produce sensations including relaxation, mild euphoria, increased appetite and difficulties perceiving space and time. Many people mistakenly believe that cannabis is a safe or harmless substance, although if you misuse cannabis you expose yourself to both immediate harm and long-term damage, including the development of an addiction.

If you become addicted to cannabis, you will feel compelled to continue to misuse this substance, often in increasingly greater amounts, negatively impacting your physical and mental health. However, cannabis addiction treatment is available so curb those effects and get you back to a healthy version of yourself. 

Signs of Cannabis Addiction

As with all forms of substance misuse and addiction, cannabis misuse may reveal itself through a variety of signs and symptoms, and vary in appearance and severity from person to person. Weed can stay in your system for quite a long time too, so these symptoms of addiction can present themselves at different times; everyone is different.

The following are the more common signs of cannabis misuse.

Behavioural symptoms:

  • Frequent, unexplained absences from work or school
  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Losing interest in activities or events that were previously significant
  • Lying, secrecy or other forms of deception involving whereabouts and/or activities
  • Possessing rolling papers, water pipes and other paraphernalia
  • Continuing to misuse cannabis even after experiencing negative repercussions due to prior misuse of the drug
  • Trying but being incapable of stopping or reducing your cannabis use
  • Using cannabis when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as prior to driving a car
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Physical symptoms of cannabis addiction:

Those with a cannabis addiction often experience the following physical symptoms:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Impaired balance
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Lack of attention to grooming and hygiene

Psychological symptoms:

Psychological symptoms of cannabis addiction can include:

  • Problems concentrating or focusing
  • Delayed responsiveness
  • Poor judgement
  • Impaired ability to track the passage of time
  • Indecisiveness
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia

Social symptoms:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Associating with new peers
  • Struggling to keep up with workload and focusing on tasks
  • More likely to lose motivation and drop out of school or quit your job
  • Problems with finances due to regularly paying for the drug or as a consequence of becoming unemployed
  • Loss of interest in hobbies you previously enjoyed, as well as reduced desire to engage with partners or friends

Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

When you become dependent upon cannabis, your body will adapt to the presence of this drug in your system. When you then attempt to stop misusing cannabis, your body may react with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

As is the case with all aspects of substance misuse, cannabis withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person based upon several personal factors. However, the following are among the more common cannabis withdrawal symptoms:

  • Strong urges for cannabis
  • Sleep problems
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Problems focusing or concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Your potential for experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and their ability to push you back to using cannabis, are among the many reasons why choosing to enter an effective comprehensive treatment programme may be the ideal choice for you.

At Priory hospitals and clinics, you can participate in detoxification prior to starting residential treatment for your cannabis problem. During a drug detox, you will be in a safe environment under the care of experienced professionals.

Detox can help you to stop using cannabis with maximum safety and minimal discomfort. A successful detox experience can be an essential first step along your path to long-term abstinence from cannabis misuse.

Short-term Effects of Cannabis use

Cannabis use can have an impact on the mind and body, even if it's used infrequently. From a single use, you may experience:

  • Relaxed and positive mood
  • Become more talkative and prone to fits of laughter
  • Exaggerated feelings of hunger, otherwise known as ‘the munchies’
  • Amplified senses such as observing intensely vivid colours
  • Feeling as though time has slowed down
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling sleepy and lethargic
  • Feelings of confusion and panic
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Hallucinations

Long term Effects of Cannabis Misuse

Depending upon the duration and severity of your misuse of cannabis, you may experience the following negative outcomes:

  • Heart and/or lung problems
  • Delayed mental processing
  • Injuries from actions sustained whilst under the influence of cannabis
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems, including being arrested, fined and imprisoned
  • Family difficulties
  • Problems in friendships and other personal relationships
  • Diminished self-esteem and persistent sense of hopelessness

When you choose to enter a comprehensive treatment programme to get help for your cannabis addiction, you can avoid future damage and can begin to heal from any past harm that you have experienced. In addition to helping you overcome the compulsion to misuse cannabis, effective professional treatment can also help you to develop the skills that will empower you to pursue a much more productive and satisfying life.

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0800 144 8969 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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