Am I Cannabis Dependant?

Am I Cannabis Dependant

Am I Cannabis Dependant


Cannabis is a technically non-addictive substance, but this purely means that you can’t get physically addicted to it. However, you can become mentally and emotionally dependant on weed if you’re not careful. Any substance that alters, and ultimately improves, your reality has the potential for some form of addiction or dependence. It can be especially tricky for those who struggle with mental health issues or physical issues such as pain and insomnia. In some ways being dependent on cannabis doesn’t hurt you. It isn’t the kind of drug that will destroy your body but it can have negative effects on the brain when used in excess. Just like literally anything, too much of it can be bad for you. Here is how to tell if you are cannabis dependant and the next steps you can take. 


What Is Cannabis Dependence? 


It is essentially what you would think it was, the need or desire to use cannabis constantly despite possible physical and mental harm. Often cannabis dependence will go undiagnosed as it is extremely hard to pin down. Many of us enjoy a smoke, perhaps daily or more, but don’t feel as though we are dependent on it. However, it is also very difficult to tell ourselves whether or not we are dependent on something. We may feel that we have full control over our cannabis use or that we can stop at any time. We may also completely believe this to be true. Cannabis dependence happens because smoking weed alters brain chemistry and releases dopamine making us feel happy or euphoric. For many of us, especially those who suffer from depression or similar mental health issues, dopamine isn’t the easiest chemical to come by. It often requires hard work, medication, exercise, and a number of other methods that often take weeks if not months to actually work. Drugs such as cannabis are a way to immediately release these lovely happy chemicals, so it’s hardly a wonder that people can become dependent. 


What Are The Symptoms?


As I said it can be very tricky to pick out the cannabis dependent from the cannabis fans. There are 11 major points that are used to diagnose cannabis dependency and any smoker must exhibit at least two of the criteria to qualify for dependence. 


  • Severe cravings 
  • A ridiculously high tolerance 
  • Developed social and personality issues 
  • Using excessive amounts over long periods
  • Repeated failed attempts to reduce or quit smoking
  • Discarding hobbies or activities
  • A significant amount of the day spent high or smoking 
  • A negative change in physical or mental health potentially related to smoking
  • Withdrawal symptoms 
  • Hazardous use 
  • Neglecting important day to day tasks


If you feel that you have two or more of these issues related to smoking, you may have a dependency issue. Of course, there are also unofficial signs such as not being able to sleep without smoking, not being able to go outside sober, or not being able to socialise without getting high. The symptoms may change depending on previous mental health and personal issues. Essentially if you feel like you absolutely need cannabis to do anything, or have stopped caring about other important aspects of your life due to smoking, you may have a problem. 


What Are The Risks?


Unfortunately, there are some major risks associated with cannabis dependency. It is thought that after prolonged excessive cannabis use there may be some damage done to the brain. Just like with alcohol or any other drug, if you trick your brain into creating chemicals for too long it may cease to be able to do so without help. There is also potential for harming brain cells and reducing intelligence, but this is still a topic of much research. Some scientists have suggested that excessive cannabis use can increase your chances of developing schizophrenia and severe paranoid delusions. I would say that the primary risks are more to your life than to your health. If you become dependent on cannabis you may begin to neglect your job, your friends, your family and a variety of other important aspects of your existence. 


What Are The Next Steps?


If you think you may have cannabis dependency there are many steps you can take. If you feel that you are at the severe end of the spectrum you may actually want to talk to your doctor. There is a chance that your dependency stems from other mental health issues and you may be able to get a referral to a therapist or councillor. If there is an underlying diagnosis that is causing a need to smoke too much, being aware of it and learning to understand it is a good step. You may also be given medications that still allow you to go about your life unhindered. 

You can also approach one of the many addiction charities available that provide either over the phone or in-person chats about dependency and addiction. I will say, occasionally this can be more difficult as many of the people working with these charities are volunteers and in my experience can be misinformed and not particularly knowledgeable on the topic of mental health. 

Another option is making the decision to cut back for a while and see how you manage. This is a great idea if you are not sure whether or not you are developing a dependency. Perhaps ask friends or family to hold on to any of your paraphernalia for a little while and have a go at cold turkey for a month or so. This may break you out of your destructive cycle and will hopefully mean that you can go back to smoking responsibly after a little time off. This is also bound to massively lower your tolerance which can be a good thing for your wallet. 

There are also several peer support programmes such as group therapies and online communities where like-minded people can talk, swap stories, share tips and be there for each other. These groups can be a great way to remind yourself that you are not alone. 


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