In recent years, the amount of people in the UK suffering from addiction to cannabis has increased. The legalization of cannabis has become a highly debated topic in the UK. While this drug has many medicinal uses, it can become a problem when a person becomes addicted to it.
Research from Redfield and Wilton Strategies says that 30% of UK residents support the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use. This data tells us that trends are changing with people viewing cannabis as a drug that is not harmful. However, even “soft drugs” can be very harmful if a person becomes addicted to them. Addiction is misrepresented in society, and it has absolutely nothing to do with how potent a substance is.
Addiction is a psychological phenomenon that exists in many forms from substances to gambling and even sex, but regardless of the type of addiction, the signs and symptoms are always the same – a compulsive desire to seek out activities despite negative consequences to health, relationships and other commitments.
Cannabis Use in The UK
According to data from Providence Projects, Cannabis addiction can affect nearly 1 in 10 users in the UK, with this number increasing to 1 in 6 if cannabis is used before the age of 18.
29.6% of people in England and Whales is 29.6% have used cannabis at least once in their lifetimes. This number includes teens and young adults who are the biggest demographic of people who use this drug. 13% of young people in the UK say that they see using cannabis at their age as non-problematic.
These high numbers are startling and show that cannabis use is becoming a rising issue.
What Makes Cannabis Problematic?
Misuse of cannabis can cause a lot of damage to a person’s physical and mental health. Cannabis addiction can cause heart and lung problems, low self-esteem, lethargy, paranoia, anxiety, mood swing, and poor coordination. It can put a lot of stress on a person’s finances, as well as their health. It can also cause social and behavioural issues if a person is severely addicted to cannabis. Some very severe side effects of prolonged cannabis use include hallucinations, cancer, bronchitis, wheezing, bone issues, and heart issues.
New forms of cannabis like synthetic weed, THC vape pens, and oils are very new additions to the cannabis market. These products are not very well tested and we do not yet know how much they can potentially impact a person’s health. Studies warn that addiction to these cannabis products can be problematic.
Stronger Cannabis Strains and Their Potential for Abuse
The most active ingredient in Cannabis is THC. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that affects the neurotransmitters in the brain and causes the feeling of a high. The amount of THC that is present in the drug has been rising as people develop their product. This means that cannabis is becoming more potent and also that it is available at different levels of potency.
The issue with the newer more potent strains of cannabis is that they become more addictive. Strains like the “Girl Scout Cookie” have THC levels of around 17%-28%. Concentrated products like flowers, oils and tinctures can have a THC content of over 95%.
These products are often marketed as being all-natural and safe for consumption. However, they can pose serious harm to people who become addicted to them. These products are also often flavoured to taste like dessert or fruit which makes adolescents consume them more. Teenagers should not use any kind of drug as they are still in their developing stages and cannabis can cause damage to their undeveloped brains.
Treating The Individual
When a person is suffering from a substance use disorder, the thing that needs to be treated is the patient and not the drug. Addiction causes changes to the individual’s psychological state.
Therapy and counselling can be accessed through the NHS or privately, but for those who have made previous attempts to quit cannabis, residential treatment may be a better alternative for long-term recovery.