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• Cannabis use can lead to three DSM-IV disorders: cannabis
intoxication, abuse, and dependence:
• Intoxication develops after ingestion of a substance and is
characterized by a reversible syndrome of maladaptive behavioral or
psychological changes, such as mood liability, cognitive
impairment, or poor judgment.
• Abuse is a problematic pattern of substance use that results in poor
role functioning, interpersonal difficulties, recurrent substance use in
physically hazardous situations, or repeated legal difficulties.
• Dependence is a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by
such symptoms as repeated substance ingestion despite physical or
psychological problems caused by the substance, ingesting larger
amounts of the substance over longer periods of time, unsuccessful
efforts to limit substance use, tolerance to the substance's effects, and
• Cannabis is a natural substance made from extracts of the Marijuana
plant. It is a mild sedative which is commonly smoked to cause a
chilled out and relaxed feeling.
• Stronger strains of herbal cannabis such as skunk can cause the user to
see objects and hallucinate, distorting their view of life around them.
The main active chemical compound in Cannabis is
• Common names for Cannabis:
Afghan, bhang, black, blast, blow, blunts, Bob Hope, bush,
dagger, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, hashish, hemp, herb,
homegrown, marijuana, Moroccan, Northern Lights, pot, puff, resin,
sensi, sinsemilla, shit, skunk, smoke, soap, spliff, wacky backy, weed,
• Cannabis use and Cannabis addiction
There are warning signs that can help pinpoint whether
Cannabis use has become more than just casual with friends, to a
serious and harmful addiction. If you display THREE or more of these
characteristics, it may mean you are addicted.
• The major signs include –
• Constantly thinking about the next joint
• Losing interest in other activities
• All free time being spent using Cannabis
• If larger amounts are now needed since first use
• Becoming on edge when running out of Cannabis
• Trying to quit the habit but then return to using
Effects of Cannabis use
People often become addicted to Cannabis because of the effects
can have pleasurable consequences or ‘highs’, which include –
• Feeling relaxed
• Making you feel happy and chilled out
• Heightened senses
• Fits of giggles
Despite experiencing these ‘highs’ there is a good chance of
experiencing the ‘low’ sides of the drug, such as –
• A feeling of paranoia
• Feeling confused
• Aggravating asthma
• Affecting your blood pressure and temperature
• Experiencing hallucinations with stronger Cannabis
Changes in appetite,
Squinty, droopy or
Thirsty, dry mouth
Compulsive or loud
Inattentive, short term
Lack of motivation, may
just want to sit around and
Delayed motor skills
Changes in mood or
behavior when “high”
Mechanism of action
• THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, binds to and activates
specific receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors.
• There are many of these receptors in parts of the brain that control
memory, thought, concentration, time and depth perception, and
• By activating these receptors, THC interferes with their normal
• The high lipid-solubility of cannabinoids results in their persisting in
the body for long periods of time. Even after a single administration
of THC, detectable levels of THC can be found in the body for weeks
Toxic effects may include:
• Acute high blood pressure with headache
• Chest pain and heart rhythm disturbances
• Extreme hyperactivity and physical violence
• Sudden collapse (cardiac arrest)
• cirrhosis of the liver,
• peripheral neuritis, and
• eventually organic brain damage.
Health risks or Cannabis addiction
• Regular Cannabis use for long periods of time can mean users run the risk of
serious psychical and mental health problems.
• Some people may think Cannabis is a harmless drug but it is very similar to
tobacco and research has shown that Cannabis contains at least as many
cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco, and the fact that Cannabis is often
smoked without filters it can cause lung disease and through heavy prolonged
use – cancer.
• Other psychical risks can include –
• Nicotine addiction
• Co-ordination can be greatly affected, which is why drug driving is just as illegal
as drink driving
• Risk of throat and lung diseases like bronchitis
• Cannabis can also make it harder to have children as it can reduce sperm
motility for men, and for women it can suppress ovulation, all of which lower
• Cannabis abuse can trigger mental health issues if there are any
existing mental health problems in your family history, which in the
short term can cause paranoia but in the long term it can develop a
high risk of schizophrenia, especially when using strong herbal
Cannabis such as skunk.
• Other mental health problems that can occur through Cannabis use
• Losing motivation for hobbies or activities
• Loss of concentration
• Can stop medication for an existing mental health illness working
• Being more likely to relapse after using cannabis for long periods of
• Memory loss
• Trigger for psychotic illness such as schizophrenia
Cannabis addiction can be influenced by a number of
things, such as, the length of time using, how much is used, and
the strength of Cannabis. Some individuals are prone to being
more dependent on Cannabis than others. Stopping regular use
may lead users to experience withdrawal symptoms which for
some may be no worse than a case of flu, for others, they may
experience stronger withdrawal
symptoms such as–
• Cravings for Cannabis
• Changes in mood
• Sweating, shaking and diarrhoea
• Dramatic weight loss
• Cannabis used medically has several well-documented beneficial
• Among these are: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting stimulation
of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular
eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as
general analgesic effects (pain reliever).
• Less confirmed individual studies also have been conducted indicating
cannabis to be beneficial to a gamut of conditions running from
multiple sclerosis to depression.
• Synthesized cannabinoids are also sold as prescription
drugs, including Marinol (dronabinol in the United States and
Germany) and Cesamet (nabilone in Canada, Mexico, the United
States and the United Kingdom).
• one form of treatment that has been successful in tackling Cannabis
addiction is detoxification.
• The main chemical compound in Cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) which is stored in the fat cells of the body, so any activity
which raises the body’s metabolism will flush the THC from the body.
• Exercise of any type will burn these fat cells containing the THC; also
drinking green tea is for its fat burning properties.
• Caring for people with marijuana intoxication focuses on preventing injury
and reassuring those who have panic reactions.
• Someone who is very agitated can be sedated with benzodiazepines (such
as diazepam [Valium] or lorazepam [Ativan]). Children who have more
serious symptoms may need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.
• People with more serious side effects may need to be hospitalized, have
heart or brain monitoring, and take medication.
Contact a Medical Professional
• If someone who has been using marijuana develops any of the symptoms of
intoxication, has trouble breathing, or cannot be awakened, call 911 or your local
emergency number. If the person has stopped breathing or has no pulse, begin CPR
and continue it until help arrives.
• There are several ways to tell if someone is habitually smoking pot. We have broken
it down into two categories, behavioral and physical, to help you identify if a child
or loved one is habitually abusing marijuana.
Behavioral Signs of Pot Use:
• Lack of motivation or ambition for activities that once excited the user.
• In many cases, participation in sports, social groups, or other pursuits will wane or
even cease entirely.
• Performance in school or in the workplace will begin to decline, coupled with a
sense of apathy towards this decline.
• Withdrawal from the family system – This is most often the case with adolescents
and young adults, but can be a warning sign for adults as well.
• Drastic change in peer group – An addict will often abandon peer groups in
favor of those who share similar desires and behaviors, namely those
engaging in drug use.
• Personal hygiene may begin to suffer as he or she is less concerned with
their public appearance.
• Depressive style of mood. Marijuana addicts manifest many of the same
characteristics as those suffering from depression. An addict will have a flat
affect and mood; he or she will appear lazy and day-to-day functioning will
start to deteriorate on every major life level.
• Aversive, avoidant behavior
Physical Signs of Pot Use:
• Slowed speech
• Averting eye contact or an unsteady gaze.