What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis (otherwise known as marijuana, thc, weed, pot, dope or grass) is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK.
Often perceived to be socially acceptable, a government study in 2014 showed that cannabis was used by 13.5% of adults between the ages of 16 and 59 in the previous 12 months.
Research shows that more than 10% of regular cannabis users become dependent on it and the risk becomes higher if you use it every day.
Your body can develop a tolerance to cannabis which means you need to take more each day to achieve the desired effect.
Used appropriately in the medical field, the chemical component of Cannabis is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and can have benefits for symptoms of neurological conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, neurological tremor, or conditions which attack myelin sheath, such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinsons Disease.
Negative Side Effects
Regular cannabis use carries some undesirable side effects:
- You may feel faint or sick
- It can make you sleepy and lethargic
- It can affect your memory
- It can make you feel confused, anxious or paranoid
- You may experience hallucinations or panic attacks
Risks of Cannabis
- People who smoke cannabis are more likely to suffer from bronchitis.
- Cannabis smoke also contains cancer causing chemicals
- If you mix tobacco with cannabis you risk getting tobacco related lung diseases such as lung cancer, COPD.
- Regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia
- Cannabis may affect your fertility and regularly smoking cannabis with tobacco increases the risk of your baby being born small or premature
- You are more likely to be injured in a road traffic accident as it interferes with your ability to drive safely. Drug driving, like drink driving, is illegal
- Although it has a lower potential for long-term addiction relative to other drugs, cannabis has a high potential for tolerance to develop, and for continued social abuse, especially in an attempt to manage behavioural symptoms.
Cannabis Detox & Withdrawal
Like most drugs, persistent cannabis use leads to tolerance. This means, the brain’s neurological receptors become used to receiving a certain amount of the substance, and have adjusted to expecting this, in order to maintain chemical balance.
In withdrawal however, when cannabis intake ceases, the onward chemical chain reactions stop, and withdrawal symptoms occur in mind and body.
The brain now needs to become used to an absence of the chemical, and recover previous, pre-addiction levels of healthy neurotransmitters and brain function, once more.
Withdrawing from cannabis can be uncomfortable, as the body and mind begin to restore equilibrium.
Excess cannabinoid metabolites have been left in the system following usage, and these need to be removed.
During cannabis use, the brain accommodated the additional cannabinoid chemical intake into normal brain function, and production of healthy levels of neurotransmitters and other chemicals.
Under withdrawal, the previous levels of healthy brain chemicals need to be restored, but without the cannabis chemical input.
This leads to psychological withdrawal symptoms, during this adjustment period.
And, since cannabis also promotes physical changes such as changes in blood pressure, sleeping patterns, reduced alertness, and other changes, there will inevitably be physical withdrawal symptoms as the body stabilises these factors also, without cannabis intake.
Common physical and emotional symptoms when undergoing cannabis withdrawal include:
- Increased anxiety, agitation, restlessness
- Sleep difficulties
- Irritability and bad temper
- High temperature or fever, or fever alternating with chills
- Reduced appetite/weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
Duration of withdrawal symptoms will vary from one individual to another, and will depend on a range of factors including:
- Duration of cannabis intake
- Level of intake
- Purity of the cannabis itself
- Level of tolerance developed to this point
- Any co-occurring abuse of other substances or alcohol
- Previous attempts at detox; frequency and duration.
- Pre-existing mental or physical health conditions
Cannabis Treatment: Detox > Rehab > Aftercare
How To Detox From Cannabis?
Contrary to popular belief, detoxing from cannabis is not best achieved by flushing the body with cleansing drinks, teas, vitamins, or similar.
The excess cannabis is stored in fat and needs to be broken down by the body over time.
The best way therefore to detox from cannabis, is to support the body while it does this.
This usually means getting supervised support to help the body and mind deal with the uncomfortable side-effects of cannabis withdrawal.
In a clinic setting, detoxing usually means substituting a substance with a prescribed alternative, which can chemically mimic it’s effects, thus reducing the experienced withdrawal symptoms.
Simultaneously, the body is processing and releasing any remaining substance via the liver, leaving the individual substance-free, with minimal emotional or physical distress.
Whilst there is no dedicated substitute medication to deal specifically with cannabis withdrawal symptoms, detoxing from cannabis usually means undergoing withdrawal, often under professional clinical supervision, and managing withdrawal symptoms using appropriate clinical help, to make the process more comfortable.
Typically this could include prescriptive medication for anti-depressants, anti-seizure medication, anti-psychotics, or drugs that promote sleep.
It’s important that any such detox is undertaken with appropriate support and medical supervision.
This usually occurs within a residential treatment clinic who specialise in detox and rehabilitation, and who can supervise and oversee withdrawal symptoms as they progress, and manage them accordingly.
As above, duration of detoxification will vary depending on amount of intake, duration over time, dependency level built up, and pre-existing conditions or medications.
Unless intake is exceptionally high or there are complicating factors, most individuals can complete initial detox from cannabis in 7-14 days, with appropriate supervision.
However, since Cannabis is often used to mask an underlying mental health issue, detox is usually only the start of a bigger recovery journey.
- Days 1–>2 – Initial withdrawal symptoms begin. At this stage, insomnia, irritability and increased anxiety are common.
- Days 3–>14 – Emotional symptoms such as depression will peak dfuring this period as the brain readjusts to the changed levels of chemicals and hormones present, under abstinence.
- Day 14+ –> Main symptoms have usually eased by this point, remaining symptoms will be subject to individual factors such as pre-existing mental or physical health issues.
Supervision Is Required
Undertaking withdrawal or detox unsupervised, is not recommended.
One study demonstrated that one third of participants, while attempting to detox from cannabis, without supervision, began re-using cannabis to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.
Physical or emotional complications can occur during detox which require appropriate professional help that includes a holistic viewpoint of your history with addiction, current and pre-existing risk factors, as well as physical and emotional health.
Attempting to reduce or withdraw from Cannabis use, in the same circumstances and living environment in which usage has occurred is not advised, as environmental triggers towards usage will still exist, even beyond detox.
Withdrawing without supervision can also reduce motivation, as repeated attempts to detox from cannabis unsuccessfully, in an unsupported environment, can lead to the belief that “detox doesn’t work” or “recovery is not possible”…. neither of which are true.
Detox is usually best undertaken in a supervised clinic setting, where addiction professionals can assist in helping you address the underlying associated lifestyle and emotional drivers behind cannabis misuse.
In a rehab clinic, once detox completes (or sometimes sooner), you’ll start to take part in a therapeutic program. designed to address the factors that led you to cannabis addiction in the first place.
Often this involves, examining the underlying causes of cannabis addiction, such as mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Or, certain beliefs, conditionings, or associations, that led to using cannabis as a coping mechanism.
Many of these causal factors will be individual to you, your circumstances, living situation, peers, and learnings from early life.
Whilst thorough self-examination of such issues can be daunting initially, addiction centres frequently provide counsellors who are experienced in this specialised area, and can provide appropriate insight and support. Many staff have experience of addiction personally.
Long term recovery from cannabis misuse requires long term planning.
Thinking ahead and constructing a plan of support, will help you maintain abstinence from cannabis.
This might include elements such as:
- Practical plans for every day life, without cannabis.
- Ways to cope with old associations to cannabis, such as social group, trigger situations, or places or events you’ve previously associated with cannabis use.
- Social supports to help you sustain and maintain an abstinence-based life, free from cannabis. This could be a sponsor, local mettings, or peers also in recovery.
- Person-centered support that addresses your individual needs such as mental health issues, or issues identified during therapy.
- Ways to continue the abstinence based mindset, even when challenges arise in day-to-day life.
- Is cannabis withdrawal or detox dangerous?
Due to the multitude of personal factors involved, cannabis withdrawal can be dangerous and we do not recommend undertaking detox is an unsupervised setting.
- What does cannabis detox treatment cost?
- How quickly can I arrange to start cannabis detox?
We can arrange admission for most within 24 hours, subject to availability within our clinics. Please ring direct to check.
- After treatment can I use cannabis again in future?
No. As an abstinence-based centre, we advocate sobriety for the long term future. This provides maximum opportunity for you to restore balance and structure to life, without cannabis misuse.
- Where do you offer cannabis detox?
- How long does cannabis treatment last?
In most cases we strongly suggest a minimum treatment period of 28 days, to maximise long term treatment outcomes. Please ring direct for advice specific to your needs.
How To Book
To book into Abbeycare for Cannabis help, contact Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091.