Cannabis Addiction and Abuse Treatment


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Marijuana LeafDelta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) is the active ingredient in cannabis, known to millions as
marijuana or hemp. Cannabis is a tall, leafy plant with an odd number of
divided leaves that grows in most parts of the world. All three species
of cannabis (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis)
contain various cannabanoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The
female flowers contain the highest concentrations of these cannabinoids.

Cannabis is a very versatile plant: hemp, a strong fiber produced
from the stem, has been used to make rope, paper and cloth; the dried
leaves and flowers are used as marijuana for their psychoactive or
medicinal properties; the roots of the plant have been used medicinally;
and the seeds are used for oil and animal feed.

People have cultivated cannabis in various parts of the world for
thousands of years, with records dating back to at least the 9th
century B.C. Henry Ford and Thomas Jefferson raised it, many wars have
been fought with it or over it, and in the late 1800s hashish smoking
parlors were open for business in every major American city. According
to police estimates, in 1883 there were 500 such parlors in New York
City alone. In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act,
outlawing marijuana.

Hemp (usually connotes low-THC cannabis) and marijuana (high-THC
cannabis) are both derived from the cannabis plant. Generally hemp is
cannabis grown for industrial use (rope, canvas, etc.) while marijuana
is cannabis grown for recreational or medical use. Cannabis intended for
consumption is usually in the form of a greenish or brownish mixture of
dried flowers and leaves of the female plant. Sometimes it comes in a
resin form (“hashish”) or a very black or gold-colored, sticky
liquid form (“hash oil”).

Recreationally or medically, cannabis is usually consumed in one of
the following ways:

  • Smoked as a cigarette (“joint”)
  • Smoked in a pipe (“bowl”)
  • Smoked in a water pipe (“bong”)
  • Inhaling the vapors of heated cannabinoid oil (“hash oil”)
  • Cooking into food (ie. hash brownies)
  • Tinctures (can be very potent and overdose is possible)

Additionally, a synthetic form of the active ingredient (THC) in
cannabis, has been developed by Roxane Laboratories, Inc. It is marketed
under the brand name Marinol and is targeted to AIDS patients, cancer
patients and persons suffering from anorexia nervosa.

Time, color, and spatial perception distortions occur as well as a
dreamy euphoria, excitement, laughter and increased appetite (“the
munchies”). Panic attacks and paranoia sometimes occur,
particularly in new users.

Marijuana has shown promise in many areas of medicine including as an
anti-epileptic, as a treatment for nausea and other side-effects of
chemotherapy and AIDS drugs, as one of the only known treatments for
glaucoma and as a treatment for asthma. Recently, the drug has also been
used as an experimental treatment for anorexia nervosa.

The above mentioned effects of cannabis on the body increase over the following two hours after consumption. Luckily, the first effects can be felt within seconds. The first forty five minutes following consumption, the effects gradually increase. After that, the effects begin to diminish for another forty five minutes where the effects usually come to an end…depending on how much cannabis you consumed.

It should be noted for first time users; you may not feel any cannabis effects after your first couple of uses. That aside, the first effects are that of a euphoric feeling. You will begin feeling a sense of relaxation. With your new mellow state, you might find yourself chuckle every once in a while – complete happiness.

These effects will last for a while; generally an hour and half. In the meantime, your body will start having physical reactions to the drug. Your eyes will begin turning bloodshot, followed by cottonmouth. You will find yourself very hungry (munchies) and very thirsty. These reactions will increase along with the other side effects.

As the euphoric feelings begin to die down, they will be replaced with feelings of paranoia and fear. You will also experience a loss of memory along with a state of grogginess. These feelings are normal so these few negative effects of cannabis shouldn’t alarm users.

Cannabis affects the brain. There is a reason cannabis causes the symptoms that it does, has to do with simple chemical reactions that take place in the brain. Cannabis contains chemicals called “caniboids.” These caniboids, the most famous being THC, bind with receptors in the brain and body known as “anandamide.” These chemicals. Anandamide receptors play a part in pain, memory, and immune functions. When the THC joins the anandamide, it causes the brain to experience psychoactive side effects.

Physical Dependence: None
Psychological Dependence: Moderate
Tolerance: Moderate
Source: The Merck Manual: Sixteenth Edition, published 1992

Cannabis (marijuana) is a mild to moderately habit-forming substance
with no physical addiction. It should be noted, though, that virtually
any substance can be addictive, to a greater or lesser degree, depending
on the user. It is a generally accepted notion among treatment
professionals that the addiction, whether physical or psychological, is
the problem, not the specific substance. Below are some treatment
programs that may be useful for cannabis users as well as others seeking
help with an addiction:

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