Drugs and your health Is cannabis addictive?

Signs, symptoms and advice

There is a long-held myth that, unlike cocaine and heroin, cannabis is not a habit-forming drug and that you cannot become chemically addicted to it.

While cannabis does not have the same intense addictive nature as some other illicit drugs, it is possible to become dependent on using it, which brings with it a large array of medical problems.

In short, cannabis can be addictive, especially after a period of prolonged or regular use. There is help available at a number of treatment centres in the UK, see here

What is weed?

Weed, as the drug is colloquially known, is derived from the leaves of the cannabis plant, which can be divided into the hemp and marijuana varieties, depending on their level of the psychoactive ingredient, THC.

While it is usually smoked, cannabis can also be brewed into tea or cooked into food. Because of the widely-known medical benefits of cannabis use in certain situations, the use of the drug does not carry the same social stigma as ‘harder’ illicit substances.

Regular, social use of marijuana can be seen as socially acceptable but can slide into addiction without any significant increase in use.

A different kind of addiction

Because the process of becoming addicted to cannabis is somewhat different to the process involved in acquiring a cocaine or heroin habit, it is worth considering that treatment might look a little different.

Spotting the signs of cannabis addiction may be more difficult because the physical symptoms are not as stark as those associated with cocaine, for example.

Long-term, however, the symptoms of marijuana use disorder (to give it its correct name) can include:

  • Organ damage
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Increased anxiety and low self-esteem
  • Breakdown of relationships
  • Lack of motivation and poor work performance

Treatment options

Depending on the severity of the addiction, there are several ways of treating cannabis misuse disorder:

The best first move, if you are worried that you or a loved one may be addicted to cannabis or misusing the drug to a problematic degree, is to contact your GP. Then, use available resources to learn more about the symptoms and potential treatments.