In the US, over 48.2 million people smoked marijuana at least once in 2019. Cannabis use disorder can arise from heavy cannabis usage. While it may not hurt to have a joint or two, doctors still advise against cannabis use for a longer period of time. Like any other drug, it messes with healthy brain activity and impairs cognitive functions. To understand cannabis use disorder in the best way, keep reading the article!
What is Marijuana?
Cannabis, sometimes known as marijuana or weed, is a member of the psychoactive drug subclass. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the two most well-known cannabinoids, are found in cannabis. The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes the “high” is called THC, whereas CBD is not psychoactive and has been found to have potential medicinal uses. There are several methods to ingest cannabis, including smoking, vaping, and edibles.
Understanding Cannabis Use Disorder
Cannabis use disorder, commonly referred to as marijuana use disorder, is a condition marked by troublesome and frequent cannabis use, despite the potential detrimental effects on a person’s life. In addition to cravings, tolerance, withdrawal, and difficulties in managing cannabis usage, it can range in severity from moderate to severe. If you or someone you know is dealing with cannabis use disorder, it’s critical to get professional assistance because it can also result in medical, psychological, and social issues.
Signs that You Have Cannabis Use Disorder
This condition is characterized by problematic and recurrent use of cannabis, despite the negative consequences it may have on an individual’s life. It can range from mild to severe, and symptoms may include:
- Cravings for cannabis
- Tolerance – needing more cannabis to achieve the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and decreased appetite when not using cannabis
- Difficulty controlling cannabis use
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of cannabis
- Giving up important activities or socializing in favor of cannabis use
- Continuing to use cannabis despite negative effects on physical, psychological, or social well-being
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be a sign of cannabis use disorder and it’s important to seek professional help.
Is Cannabis Risky?
While for many people, cannabis use is rather benign, if taken excessively or improperly, it might be harmful. Cannabis usage has been linked to a number of health issues, including addiction and cannabis use disorder, in addition to other social and health hazards. In rare-cases, cannabis use has event been linked with inducing psychosis.
Short-Term Effects of Cannabis
Short-term effects of cannabis use may include:
- Euphoria: cannabis use can produce feelings of happiness, relaxation, and elation.
- Altered perception: cannabis use can alter the way an individual perceives time, space, and their surroundings.
- Increased appetite: cannabis use can lead to an increase in appetite, also known as “the munchies.” A person who is continuously consuming cannabis may also develop an unhealthy amount of weight.
- Dry mouth: cannabis use can cause dry mouth, also known as “cottonmouth.”
- Impaired coordination: cannabis use can impair an individual’s coordination and balance.
- Bloodshot eyes: cannabis use can cause bloodshot eyes due to the dilation of blood vessels in the eyes.
The potential short-term effects of cannabis use may vary depending on individual factors such as age, frequency of use, and method of consumption. If you have concerns about the short-term effects of cannabis use or if the use has led you to experience weird feelings, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional since after all, it is a substance.
Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Use
Some potential long-term effects of cannabis use may include the following:
- Respiratory issues: Smoking of any kind can lead to respiratory issues. Cannabis is also not free of the side effects. It may lead to respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis and lung infections.
- Decreased motivation: Chronic cannabis use has been linked to decreased motivation and an overall lack of interest in life activities. This is why it puts the consumer at risk of developing psychological issues like anxiety or depression.
- Cognitive impairment: Regular cannabis use has been associated with decreased memory, attention, and learning abilities, especially in adolescents and young adults.
- Mental health issues: Cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, especially in those with a family history of mental illness.
- Addiction: Cannabis use can lead to addiction and the development of cannabis use disorder, which can have a negative impact on an individual’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. The risk of trying out new things to experience increased fun is also a possibility.
The Relationship of Cannabis Use and Mental Health
Individuals who struggle with cannabis use disorder may also be at an increased risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. This is especially true for those with a family history of mental illness. While cannabis has been legalized in some parts of the world, does not mean that it does not possess harm. You should avoid it especially if you are prone to it because of genetic disposition.
It’s important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with both cannabis use disorder and a mental health condition, as they can exacerbate each other and make treatment more difficult. Dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses both substance use disorder and mental health conditions simultaneously, may be necessary for successful recovery. Instead of seeking help for only cannabis addiction, it is important to seek help for existing mental health conditions as well.
What Are the Treatment Options for Cannabis Use Disorder?
Behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Here are some of the most common types of behavioral therapy:
CBT is the most common form of therapy which is focused on identifying negative or irrational thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones. CBT is an evidence-based approach that is seen as effective even as a stand-alone treatment. CBT can be delivered in individual or group settings and may involve homework assignments and other self-help techniques. It is important to find a therapist who is trained in CBT and who you feel comfortable working with, in order to get the most benefit from this type of therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):
This is a type of CBT that is specifically designed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder, by teaching them skills to manage their emotions and improve relationships. DBT is a comprehensive treatment that includes individual therapy, group therapy, and skills training. It focuses on helping individuals learn skills to manage their emotions, improve their relationships, and cope with challenging situations. The therapy is typically conducted over a period of several months or even years, depending on the individual’s needs and progress.
The behavioral therapy known as exposure therapy has demonstrated potential in the treatment of cannabis use disorder. This treatment entails progressively exposing patients to the stimuli, such as social circumstances or environmental signals, that lead them to use cannabis. Exposure treatment aims to teach patients how to withstand the impulse to use cannabis in certain circumstances and instead learn more effective coping skills. Exposure therapy is normally carried out under the supervision of a licensed therapist in a controlled setting. The therapist may begin by exposing the patient to low-intensity triggers and then progressively raise their intensity as the patient feels more at ease. The person eventually has the ability to control their triggers and resist cravings.
There are many other therapies that are very efficacious for those wanting to overcome addiction, such as motivational interviewing, contingency management, etc. You can opt for rehab that will cater to the patient in a more personalized way.
Currently, the FDA has not approved any medications for cannabis use disorder. However, some medications have been found to be effective in managing certain symptoms of the disorder. For example, medications that are used to treat anxiety and depression may be helpful for individuals who experience these symptoms as a result of cannabis use disorder. Additionally, medications that are commonly used in the treatment of substance use disorders, such as naltrexone and acamprosate, have shown promise in reducing cannabis use and cravings. According to ChoicePoint’s professionals, medication alone is not sufficient for the treatment of cannabis use disorder and should be used in conjunction with behavioral therapies and other supportive interventions. If you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis use disorder, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.
Common FAQs on Cannabis Use Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognizes cannabis use disorder (CUD) as a mental health issue. An individual must meet at least two of the DSM-5 criteria for CUD within a 12-month period in order to get a diagnosis. Based on the amount of symptoms present, CUD severity is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. CUD symptoms include using cannabis more frequently or in bigger doses than anticipated, struggling to limit or regulate cannabis use, and going through withdrawal when cannabis usage is stopped or decreased.
The ideal approach to cannabis use therapy is one that is individualized and meets the needs of the patient. Addiction treatment is extremely subjective. For instance, family therapy may seem more appropriate for certain people than for others. The appropriate course of action for cannabis use disorder will thus rely on a number of individual characteristics, including the illness’s severity and the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. Some of the best treatments include therapeutic interventions that are tailored to the needs of every individual.
Cannabis Use Disorder can have a range of psychological effects, including:
1. Difficulty concentrating or focusing
2. Decreased motivation
3. Mood swings
6. Psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusions)
7. Impaired judgment and decision-making
These effects may vary in severity depending on the individual and the extent of their cannabis use.
Cannabis use disorder, also known as cannabis addiction, can cause behavioral changes and symptoms like spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of cannabis, forgoing important activities or socializing in favor of cannabis use, continuing to use cannabis despite negative effects on wellbeing, doing so in physically dangerous situations, developing a tolerance to cannabis, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and having trouble controlling one’s impulses. Depending on the individual and the intensity of their cannabis usage, these behavioral indicators may change. If someone is showing indications of cannabis addiction, it’s crucial for them to get expert assistance.
Cannabis addiction also referred to as Cannabis Use Disorder, can cause behavioral changes and symptoms like spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of cannabis, forgoing important activities or socializing in favor of cannabis use, continuing to use cannabis despite negative effects on wellbeing, doing so in physically dangerous situations, developing a tolerance to cannabis, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and having trouble controlling one’s impulses. Depending on the person and the level of cannabis usage, these behavioral indicators may differ. Those displaying symptoms of cannabis addiction should seek expert assistance.
In conclusion, cannabis use disorder is a severe mental health illness that can have a variety of adverse effects on the body, mind, and society. Cannabis usage can have short-term effects like pleasure and changed perception, but it can also have long-term impacts including addiction, respiratory problems, diminished motivation, cognitive decline, and mental health problems. If you or someone you know is displaying symptoms of cannabis use disorder or is battling addiction and mental health issues at the same time, it is imperative that you get expert assistance.