Cannabis is a psychoactive drug derived from any of the three varieties of the cannabis plant – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis – that is usually smoked, eaten or vaped by users for recreational or social purposes.
Ingestion of cannabis in any form can induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria due to the levels of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), which interact and bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Other names for cannabis include:
- Mary Jane
Although many people believe that cannabis is not addictive, almost 55,000 people in England received support for cannabis dependence in 2017-18. 
Thankfully, support is available for anyone struggling with cannabis addiction or dependency. This article will give an overview of cannabis addiction including the warning signs, long-term effects and potential withdrawal symptoms. It will also go into detail about the process of rehabilitation to help you make an informed choice about your recovery.
Symptoms of cannabis addiction
Cannabis addiction can present a number of physical, mental, behavioural and social symptoms.  You do not need to have all or even most of these symptoms to be diagnosed with cannabis addiction.
Physical symptoms of cannabis addiction include:
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Poor grooming and hygiene
- Dry mouth
- Bloodshot eyes
- A strong smell of cannabis on clothing and possessions
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Increased appetite
- Persistent cough
Mental symptoms of cannabis addiction include:
- General confusion
- Seeming more anxious or depressed than usual
- Memory loss
- Impaired judgement
- Difficulty understanding the concept of time passing
- Feeling irritable and agitated
- Making poor decisions
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks or conversations
Behavioural symptoms of cannabis addiction include:
- Being unable to reduce or completely stop using cannabis
- Suddenly becoming secretive and private
- Lying and being deceptive about location or daily activities
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
- Possessing cannabis paraphernalia even if this is illegal
- Experiencing negative consequences due to cannabis but being unable to stop
- Low performance at school or work
- Unexplained absences
Social symptoms of cannabis addiction include:
- Withdrawing from friends and family members
- Making excuses to leave social events earlier in order to ingest cannabis
- Suddenly associating with a new group of friends
- Being unable to attend social events without using cannabis during or beforehand
If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about is struggling with a cannabis addiction and is displaying a number of the above symptoms, reach out for help straight away.
Long-term effects of cannabis addiction
If a cannabis addiction is not properly treated, particularly at a young age, it can lead to serious long-term effects that can impact the individual for years to come.
Long-term effects of cannabis addiction include:
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
- Disrupted brain development, particularly in younger people
- Higher risk of respiratory illnesses
- Increased risk of schizophrenia and other psychosis disorders
- Risk of child development problems if the individual is pregnant
- Extreme paranoia and hallucinations
Any one of these symptoms can have a pronounced negative impact on a person’s daily life and future outcomes. Thankfully, many of the long-term effects can be avoided with a successful rehabilitation programme as early on in the addiction as possible. It’s never too late to make a change.
Is there a difference between addiction and dependence?
Many people use the terms ‘addiction’ and ‘dependence’ interchangeably, when in fact they have broadly different definitions. It is possible to be dependent on a substance without being addicted.
An addiction can be defined by the inability to stop using cannabis despite negative consequences. Long-term use of an addictive substance can physically change the way our brains work, and we can become hard-wired to seek out cannabis regardless of the harm it may cause. In this way, addiction can be characterised by a change in behaviour related to cannabis. 
On the other hand, dependence can form even when the individual is using a substance exactly as prescribed. It is usually categorised as physical dependence and does not necessarily constitute an addiction.
When someone is addicted to cannabis, it will often consume their life. Their main priorities will consist of finding cannabis, purchasing it and then ingesting it. When someone is dependent on cannabis, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop using it but ultimately it does not dictate their life.
Do I need to go to cannabis rehab?
Due to the social acceptance of cannabis throughout most of the world, it can be difficult to realise and accept that you may have a problem. When you are surrounded by friends, family or media influences who openly use cannabis on a regular basis it can very quickly become normalised and any worrying side effects may be ignored in favour of fitting in.
Alternatively, if you use cannabis in secret it can be impossible for other people to spot the warning signs. Dependency can form before anyone realises that you need help, making it difficult to reach out for support.
If you can relate to any of the statements below, it might be worth examining your behaviour and thought patterns around cannabis and considering a form of treatment.
- I continue to use cannabis despite experiencing negative consequences directly related to the drug
- I have tried to reduce or completely stop my cannabis intake but have been unable to do so
- Everything is easier when I use cannabis
- I find it difficult to imagine my life without cannabis
- I have taken days off work or school in order to use cannabis
- I feel more anxious and paranoid than I used to before I started using cannabis
- I find it difficult to function at social events or around friends and family without using cannabis
- Other people have commented that I may have a problem with cannabis, or that I use it a lot
- I have developed new side effects that I didn’t notice before, such as hallucinations or memory loss
There is no shame in seeking treatment for cannabis dependency or addiction. As cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK, it stands to reason that there will be many other people in your shoes. Do not let shame or fear stop you from taking that first step on the road to recovery.
How does cannabis rehab work?
During recovery from cannabis addiction within a specialised rehabilitation centre, the individual will be closely monitored throughout the initial detoxification phase. This ensures that any potential complications are reported straight away and assistance can be provided in a timely manner.
They will also receive support and guidance from expert medical professionals to help them through the detoxification process, which can be unpleasant and difficult to go through alone.
Once the body has been physically cleansed of cannabis, the psychological aspect of recovery can begin. Generally, a combination of individual and group therapy will be offered, which provides an opportunity to challenge negative thoughts and behaviours and develop healthier coping skills that can be utilised for years to come.
Types of cannabis rehab treatments
Cannabis rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each person will respond differently to various methods, and as a result, there have been a number of treatment methods created with the aim of helping people through the recovery process.
1. Inpatient treatment
The most effective form of rehabilitation treatment, inpatient treatment provides 24/7 support and guidance to patients recovering from addiction. With personalised treatment programmes and close monitoring of withdrawal symptoms, this is an opportunity to recover in a safe and secure environment.
2. Outpatient treatment
If the individual would prefer to undergo the recovery process at home, outpatient treatment can be an effective option. They can continue to attend work and pursue their normal life with the added benefit of rehabilitation treatment for their addiction. However, inpatient treatment has been proven to be the most effective method of recovery with a higher success rate.
3. 12 Steps treatment
This programme can be intense and vigorous, with the individual encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts openly and surrender themselves to recovery. With guidance from trained professionals, this can be an extremely effective method of cannabis treatment.
4. Individual or group therapy
Therapy is invaluable throughout the recovery process, as it provides a chance to drill down into the root cause of the addiction and understand the thoughts and behaviours that lead to the use of cannabis as a coping strategy. Different types of therapy used in addiction rehabilitation include cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and contingency management.
Cannabis withdrawal symptoms
While a rehabilitation programme is able to guide and support individuals throughout the recovery process, there is no surefire way to avoid cannabis withdrawal symptoms.
The following withdrawal symptoms may feel unpleasant, but they will eventually pass. Depending on the extent of the addiction and the amount of cannabis consumed on a regular basis, individuals may experience more or less severe withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include:
- Feeling irritable, angry and aggressive
- Extreme anxiety and feelings of depression
- Decreased appetite, potentially leading to weight loss
- Disturbed sleep including insomnia and nightmares
- Excessive night sweats
- Frequent headaches
- Intense cravings for cannabis
- Flu-like symptoms such as body chills and muscle aches
No one needs to deal with cannabis addiction alone. Get in touch with our team at OK Rehab today – the chances of long-term recovery are much greater under the guidance of experienced medical professionals.