What Are The Psychological Problems Related To Smoking Marijuana .Cannabis is an illegal drug made from the cannabis plant. You can smoke or eat cannabis. You can smoke it on its own or mix it with tobacco to make a ‘joint’ or ‘spliff’. It can also be cooked in food or brewed in tea.
People use cannabis for different reasons. Sometimes they use it to relieve mental or physical symptoms. This is called self-medication. This may make you feel better in the short term. But in the longer term it can increase problems or create new ones.
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain. Young people are more likely to use it than older people.
Cannabis can be called marijuana, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, herb, pot, and weed, and other things.
Stronger types of cannabis can be called skunk, super-skunk, Northern Lights, Early Girl and Jack Herer.
You can find more information about cannabis, on HERE You can find the details of the website in the Useful Contacts section of this page. The website tells you what cannabis looks like, how it is used and the law on cannabis.
How does cannabis work?
Cannabis will go into your bloodstream when smoked. It will quickly be carried to your brain and stick to your receptors. This will affect your mood and behaviour.
Cannabis contains lots of different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Some examples are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the main active ingredient in the cannabis plant. The more THC there is in cannabis, the greater the effect will be.
Skunk is a stronger variety of cannabis. It contains higher levels of THC. Evidence suggests that the effects of skunk are faster and stronger than milder cannabis.
CBD can lessen the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC such as hallucinations and paranoia. It can also reduce anxiety. This means that the effects of THC will be lower if there is more CBD in the plant.
How can cannabis make me feel?
The effects of cannabis can be pleasant or unpleasant. Most symptoms will usually last for a few hours. But there can be unpleasant long term symptoms. Especially if you used cannabis regularly over a long period of time. The risks can also be worse if are young and smoke strong cannabis, like skunk.
What are the pleasant effects of cannabis?
Cannabis can make you feel happy, relaxed, talkative or laugh more than usual. You may find that colors and music are brighter and sharper. Pleasant effects are known as a ‘high.’
What mental health conditions is cannabis linked to?
Some people might ‘self-medicate’ with cannabis to deal with emotional pain or other symptoms of depression. However, cannabis is more likely to make these feelings worse in the long term.6
We also know people who use cannabis frequently and over a long period of time may be at a greater risk of developing a major depressive disorder.
The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety is less clear, but anxiety and panic attacks are a common negative effect reported by people using cannabis.
Research has also found people with anxiety are more likely to use cannabis or become dependent on cannabis.8
Psychotic illnesses (schizophrenia or bipolar disorder)
For people with a psychotic illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, cannabis use can:
- make psychotic symptoms worse
- cause more delusions or hallucinations
- lead to a higher chance of hospitalization for psychosis
- make treatment less effective
- make recovery from a psychotic episode harder.
And, although we can’t say cannabis directly causes schizophrenia, it’s more likely to cause schizophrenic symptoms if someone has a personal or family history of mental health issues.1
People with a personal or family history of mental health conditions are also more at risk of experiencing a cannabis-induced psychosis.
Drug-induced psychosis can occur when a large or extremely strong batch of cannabis is used, and can happen without the presence of a current psychotic illness.
What is the difference between psychosis and schizophrenia?
Psychosis and schizophrenia aren’t the same illness.
Psychosis is the name given to symptoms or experiences, which include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations make someone experience things differently to other people. This might be seeing things or hearing voices. Delusions are when people have unusual beliefs that other people don’t have.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how someone thinks or feels. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions. But often it will have other symptoms like feeling flat or emotionless, or withdrawing from other people.
The impact of dependency
Being dependent on cannabis can lead to mental health issues which aren’t necessarily caused by the cannabis itself.
For example, a young person with a cannabis dependence might disengage from school, struggle with employment opportunities or experience relationship breakdown. These experiences are often linked to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.10
Do different types of cannabis affect mental health differently?
To some degree – yes.
Most cannabis products are made up of two cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the main psychoactive component in street cannabis which produces the ‘high’ – and is usually the cause of any negative side effects. CBD has no psychoactive effects.11
People who use extremely strong THC cannabis concentrates (such as butane hash oil) may put themselves at a greater risk of experiencing mental health harms such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.9, 12
CBD is mostly used in industrial hemp products and medicinal cannabis, usually without any THC. This is unlikely to cause any serious negative effects for mental health.
In fact, research is looking into the potential of CBD-based cannabis medicines to actually help with conditions such as depression, anxiety or psychosis. However, the evidence behind this isn’t strong yet.13, 14
Smaller amounts of THC also have therapeutic benefits and you’ll find THC in some medicinal cannabis products.13 This is why it’s important to always consult with a doctor if you’re interested in accessing medicinal cannabis and have any current or past mental health issues.
Should I be worried about my mental health if I use cannabis?
If you’re using cannabis, it doesn’t mean you’re going to start feeling depressed, develop anxiety or experience a psychosis.
Some people will use cannabis for a long time and not experience any mental health issues. But, there are others who will.
If you feel like your current cannabis use might be impacting your mental health, you can chat to your doctor about it.
What happens when I stop using cannabis?
There are plenty of benefits you are likely to notice if you cut out cannabis, like:
- better concentration
- improved mood
- increased motivation
- more energy
- better sleep patterns (after a few weeks).
You might notice some of these benefits straight away, while others might take a bit longer. Generally the longer you go without using the easier it gets.
Some people who use cannabis for a long time might become dependent and then find it hard to stop. If you’re trying to cut down or stop using cannabis after a long time, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. These may include:
- an upset tummy
- poor appetite
- problems sleeping
- sometimes feeling angry, irritable or restless.
Tips for withdrawal
Withdrawals usually last around a week, although problems with sleep may last longer.
It can be helpful to plan ahead for these difficulties if you’re thinking of cutting cannabis use out. This might involve making a list of things that help you when times get tough. Maybe being around supportive friends helps, or doing activities that make you feel distracted and calm.
Think about what increases your likelihood of using and stay away from those things for a while.
It can also help to include family and friends or a professional in your plans to stop so they can support you through the hard times.
Tips for staying safe
If you’re going to use cannabis, there will always be the risk of things not going great. You can reduce some of these risks by:
- just using a bit at a time and waiting to see what it feels like
- not mixing it with alcohol and other drugs. Things can get out of control quickly
- not driving or doing anything that requires coordination after you’ve used cannabis. (It is illegal to drive while on drugs)
- only using cannabis with people you trust. Have someone in your group who is not using cannabis keep an eye out for you. Remember to keep an eye on your friends, too
- having cannabis free days. Avoid it if you have school or work the next day
- calling an ambulance if things get bad – they are there to keep you safe, not to get you in trouble.