Cannabis is an umbrella term for a plant species used in the production of an addictive recreational drug universally known as marijuana. It has numerous street names, including dagga, hashish, rope and weed. In rare cases it is also used in prescribed medications. Marijuana is illegal in most countries, but in recent years the decriminalisation of marijuana has been the subject of vigorous, ongoing debate.
Regardless of dagga’s legal status, its consumption can cause a serious substance use disorder for which we provide specialist treatment.
Despite dramatised reports and arguments aimed at downplaying the risk, there are solid reasons why marijuana is strictly regulated by authorities. Though less potent than extreme drugs like cocaine, it is a well documented social occurrence and scientific fact that usage can lead to dependency. It is also a strong indicator of emotional disorders and a gateway to other substance abuses.
Reports of extraordinary benefits derived from marijuana usage by lay persons abound, but it lacks empirical evidence and may be linked to placebo effects, or even propaganda. There are some legal medical applications, but they lack almost all the intoxicating ingredients of the illegal drug. In most cases, other medications can achieve the same solution without the known risks of cannabis.
Public pressure for legalising marijuana is gaining ground. It is now legally available, under regulated conditions, in some countries. However, legalisation has not removed the defined health risks, nor the social dilemma it presents. Like alcohol and guns, legalising it did not make it less lethal. In most countries, random production, possession and consumption are still criminal offenses.
The smoke in the dagga mirror
Dagga, more commonly known as marijuana, is lately being punted by some people as a drug that has been historically unfairly penalised by authorities and communities. Popular themes for downplaying its health risks, include arguments about its mildness compared to other drugs and even insinuations that its addictive nature is being deliberately exaggerated.
One argument in favour of legalising marijuana, is that it is less destructive than alcohol and hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. Dagga is certainly not as physically erosive as the latter drugs. However, that does not qualify it as a harmless recreational substance. In fact, dagga usage has detrimental implications that most of its promoters conveniently ignore.
As with alcohol, some people are more susceptible to becoming dependent on dagga than others. Those who have not felt or witnessed the tragedies wrought by substance abuse disorders, should look past their own experiences and consider its more extensive consequences.
Professionals in the judicial, medical and psychological fields, daily observe how this underestimated psychoactive drug causes substance abuse disorder and harmful behaviour. Not only does it erode peoples’ emotions, it also leads to physical illnesses, accidents, rash actions and random trauma. Apart from that, it sets the patient on a course that easily progresses to taking harder drugs.
The final consideration, backed up by neuroscientific research, is that patients who fall victim to any substance disorder, frequently harbour hidden emotional wounds. They often turn to drugs in an effort to cope with their problem. Marijuana, with the misleading nuance of being a socially acceptable and presumably harmless substance, is a tempting form of self-medication for them.
Surveys conducted in areas where marijuana has been legalised, show that it has not led to a decrease in health, criminal activity or substance abuse. In fact, indications are that it may be escalating the substance abuse problem.
Call us for advice about dagga
If you need advice about cannabis, do not hesitate to call us. Substance abuse disorder can be a volcano waiting to erupt. We have emphatic, experienced counsellors whom you can reach out to in the strictest confidence. They are up to date with the latest trends and fully resourced to assist you with the advice you need.
Internet and other media publications are intended for a broad audience. If you experience substance use disorders, you must obtain personal advice, relevant your specific conditions and circumstances, from a suitably qualified health professional.
Cannabis addiction is a condition characterized by:
- tolerance increase – increases in cannabis doses to produce a similar effect previously obtained at low doses
- addiction – cannabis has become an important part of a person’s everyday life;
- withdrawal symptoms – various disruptions to the health of the cannabis can occur.
According to surveys, about 9% of consumers remain dependent.
Studies have shown that the development of cannabis addiction has been significantly influenced by genetic factors. However, it is probably not a specific gene that determines the development of cannabis addiction but rather a multi-genetic factor, as it has been found during the research that genes affecting cannabis dependence can be found in several chromosomes such as 3, 9, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22.
Cannabis causes most of the related psychological and physical effects, contacts the body of the cannabinoid receptors. Both, an exogenous substance and endocannabinoids , which are physiologically active substances, make contact with cannabinoid receptors. Substances like tetrahydrocannabinol, activate cannabinoid receptors, such as anandamide, that have been discovered as agents that block the cannabinoid receptors have been detected and thus inhibit the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol. But what exactly are the precise mechanisms of cannabis addiction, is still largely unclear.
The withdrawal symptoms following cannabis withdrawal following hemp dependence are usually not serious. In case of cannabis addiction, withdrawal symptoms are much more modest than in morphine and alcoholism. No animal or human studies have shown significant physical dependence after the discontinuation of cannabis use. However, it can not be ruled out that more serious symptoms may occur. In some studies, severe withdrawal symptoms have been reported but are still occurring at a high level of hepatic addiction.
The most common withdrawal symptoms in the case of cannabis addiction:
- sleep disorders
- loss of appetite
Less frequent withdrawal symptoms:
- nausea and / or vomiting
- saliva flow