Sobriety Home Foundation

Cannabis (Marijuana) Addiction

Sobriety Home Foundation offers patients effective treatment plans for cannabis dependency. At Sobriety Home Foundation, patients are part of the decision-making process when finding the best treatment plan for them. All individuals have access to evidence-based treatment options with a comprehensive plan in order to move towards a cannabis-free life.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant that consists of two sub-species: hemp and marijuana. While hemp is mostly used for utilitarian purposes, marijuana is a plant with psychoactive properties. It appeared in North America during the early 19th century through travelers and labourers and gained popularity among writers and artists. It can be consumed in a variety of diverse ways and is produced as hashish, hash oil, or marijuana (dried leaves). The most common being the latter. Marijuana is typically administered through smoking with a pipe, bong, or joint but it can also be consumed as an edible- in which it is baked into food. This manipulates the active cannabis ingredients available to the brain.

Cannabis, also known as Marijuana, in a jar.

What does Cannabis Addiction Look like?

Despite widespread belief, cannabis has the potential to be an addictive drug. Albeit, physical addiction is less pronounced in use of this drug, psychological addiction is powerful and well-documented. It is believed that some individuals who consume this drug do so to improve social interactions or to enhance already pleasant experiences. Others may use it to expand their awareness (Simons et al., 1998). However, the strongest predictor for marijuana use is coping with negative life experiences. This can lead to eventual impairment. As it happens, marijuana dependence is similar to other substance use disorders within a clinical setting (Budney, 2006). Those with a cannabis dependency continue to consume the drug in spite of the social, cognitive, and physical impairments that are associated with it. These can include problems with sleeping, unstable relationships (e.g., family), trouble with money, low energy, problems with memory, and low self-esteem (Gruber et al., 2003). In fact, this drug is the most-used illegal drug in Canada with 34.5% of users consuming it daily.

A Cannabis, or marijuana, joint being rolled.

Short-Term Effects of Cannabis Use

The short-term effects associated with this drug depend on the potency of the drug (i.e., amount of THC) during consumption. Short-term effects can include:

  • Altered state of conscious
  • Euphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Pleasant sensations
  • Extreme relaxation
  • Decreased coordination
  • Impaired judgement
  • Impaired memory and learning
  • Uncontrollable appetite (i.e., munchies)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and panic attacks (with large amounts)

Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Use

  • Tolerance to THC
  • Physical dependence
  • Psychological dependence
  • Decreased or delayed cognitive performance
  • Lung cancer
  • Respiratory and immune system disorders

Pharmacology

Naturally occurring cannabinoids and their receptors are widely distributed throughout our bodies and make up the human endocannabinoid system. This system contains four types of receptors: CB1, CB2, AEA, and 2-AD, all of which are vulnerable to the effects of cannabis. CB1 receptors are clustered within the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens, cortex, basal ganglia and spinal cord- all of which play a role in memory, cognition, and movement. When an individual smokes cannabis, active ingredients travel to the brain rapidly (e.g., Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) which then bind to the previously mentioned receptors. This creates a variety of behavioural and psychological side effects (e.g., paranoia, euphoria, munchies, etc.). The effects of marijuana (when smoked) typically begin after 15 minutes and last 30 – 60. However, this drug can remain stored in the body’s adipose tissue as long as 30 days after consumption which can cause secondary effects associated with the drug which are mostly cognitive.