Nicholas King
Counselling for Harrow, Pinner & Ruislip

Cannabis

Cannabis (also known as marijuana, weed, pot, dope or grass) is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK and is often seen as low-risk. The effects of cannabis vary from person to person and can make you feel chilled out, relaxed and happy. Some people get the giggles or become more talkative or experience hunger pangs often referred to as "the munchies". Cannabis can cause colours to appear more intense, music to sound better or induce a sense of time slowing down. The effects of Cannabis can include feeling faint or sick - especially if you are not used to it or it can make you sleepy and lethargic. Cannabis can also affect your memory and makes some people feel confused, anxious or paranoid. Others may experience panic attacks and hallucinations and these effects are common with stronger forms of cannabis like skunk or sinsemilla. Cannabis affects your ability to drive safely and if used regularly it can make you demotivated and uninterested in things that would ordinarily be important in your life, such as education or work. Long-term use of the drug can affect your ability to learn and concentrate. (Source: reproduced from NHS Choices)


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Can you get addicted to cannabis?

Studies have shown that 10% of regular cannabis users become dependent on it. The risk of becoming addicted is higher if you start using it in your teens or use it every day. As with other addictive drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, you can develop a tolerance to cannabis and this causes you need more to get the same effect. People who stop using cannabis may have withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, irritability and restlessness. If you smoke cannabis with tobacco, you're likely to get addicted to nicotine and risk getting tobacco-related diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease. If you cut down or give up, you will experience withdrawal from nicotine as well as cannabis. (Source: reproduced from NHS Choices)


Trying to give up?

The first step in recovery from any addiction begins with recognizing that you have a problem. Addiction is usually a symptom of something else that's going on for us rather than a cause and using a substance often means we have lost touch with our natural ability to comfort or soothe ourselves and resort to drugs as a form of self-medication. If you are using Cannabis frequently and often feel that you need it to just to get by or to cope with day-to-day living then it's time get help in tackling your addiction. Doing this can require regular support and guidance to help us identify the pitfalls and keep us on track as we work towards the positive goal of becoming Cannabis free.

If you feel that you are struggling with an addiction to Cannabis and feel that now is the time to start your recovery I can support you by:-

  • helping you to identify your symptoms from using Cannabis.
  • understand how you became addicted to Cannabis in the first place and know what keeps it going.
  • help you develop a recovery plan and strategies to cope with future challenges.
  • developing alternative, healthier and more effective ways of coping with stress or life's difficulties.
  • helping you to take renewed care of your health and well-being.
  • embracing new behaviours and activities that will help you look forward to a life free from addiction.
  • helping you maintain your recovery.



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    Cannabis and mental health

    Regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. A psychotic illness creates a disturbed sense of reality causing hallucinations (seeing things that aren't really there) and delusions (believing things that aren't really true).

    The risk of developing a psychotic illness is higher if:

  • you smoke stronger types, such as skunk.
  • you smoke it regularly.
  • you use it for a long time.
  • you smoke cannabis and have risk factors for schizophrenia, such as family history of the illness.
  • you already have schizophrenia - cannabis can make psychotic symptoms worse.
  • during your teenage years the brain is still developing. Cannabis interferes with this process.
  • if you start using it regularly in your teens your risk of schizophrenia, is higher.


  • Other risks of cannabis

    . People who smoke cannabis regularly are more likely to have bronchitis (inflammation and irritation of the lining of the lungs).
    . Cannabis smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals similar to tobacco smoke.
    . Mixing cannabis with tobacco risks causing lung diseases e.g. lung cancer and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD).
    . Cannabis increases the risks of being injured in a road traffic accident.
    . If you drive under the influence of cannabis, you're more likely to be involved in an accident.
    . Drug driving, like drink driving, is illegal.
    . Cannabis use can affect fertility.
    . If you're pregnant, cannabis may harm your unborn baby's brain development.
    . Regularly smoking cannabis with tobacco increases the risk of premature birth.
    . Cannabis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
    . Research suggests it's the cannabis smoke that increases the risk, not the active ingredients in the plant itself. (Source: NHS Choices)


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    Cannabis use in healthcare

    Cannabis contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. Two of these – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – are the active ingredients of a prescription drug called Sativex. This is used to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Another cannabinoid drug, called Nabilone, is sometimes used to relieve sickness in people having chemotherapy for cancer. NHS Choices refers to ongoing trials being conducted to test cannabis-based drugs for other conditions including cancer pain, the eye disease glaucoma, appetite loss in people with HIV or AIDS, and epilepsy in children. (Source: NHS Choices)


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