Cannabis and mental health
Cannabis is an illegal drug which can affect your mental health. This article is about the effects that cannabis can have on your mental health.You may also find this article worth reading if you care for someone who uses cannabis. I wrote this for my brothers who I love and care about.
What is cannabis?
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 Ghana.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.
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 colours and music are brighter and sharper. Pleasant effects are known as a ‘high.’
What are the unpleasant effects of cannabis?
Cannabis can cause hallucinations, changes in mood, amnesia, depersonalisation, paranoia, delusion and disorientation. You might find it harder to concentrate or remember things. You may find that you can’t sleep well and you feel depressed. You may also feel hungry or like time is slowing down.
You might have lower motivation. And cannabis can affect how you sense things. You may see, hear or feel things differently. This is known as hallucinating. Hallucinations can be a sign of psychosis.
Psychosis can be a symptom of mental illness, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. These can be called ‘psychotic illnesses.’
Can cannabis affect my mental health?
Regular cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression. But most research seems to have a focus on the link between psychosis and cannabis.
Using cannabis can increase the risk of later developing psychotic illness, including schizophrenia. There is a lot of reliable evidence to show a link between the use of stronger cannabis and psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia. But the link is not fully understood.
Cannabis may be one of the causes of developing a mental illness, but it isn’t be the only cause for many people. Not everyone who uses cannabis will develop psychosis or schizophrenia. And not everyone who has psychosis or schizophrenia has used cannabis. But you are more likely to develop a psychotic illness if you smoke cannabis. And are ‘genetically vulnerable’ to mental health problems.
‘Genetically vulnerable’ means that you are naturally more likely to develop a mental health problem. For example, if people in your family have a mental illness, you may be more likely to develop a mental health problem. if someone in your family has depression or schizophrenia, you are at higher risk of getting these illness when you use cannabis.
Cannabis can have the following effects.
Long term use can have a small but permanent effect on how well you think and concentrate.
Smoking cannabis can cause a serious relapse if you have a psychotic illness.
Regular cannabis use can lead to an increased risk of later developing mental illness. Especially if you use cannabis when you are young.
Is cannabis addictive?
Cannabis can be addictive.
About 1 in 10 regular cannabis users become dependent on it. Your risk of getting addicted is higher if you start using it in your teens or use it every day.
You can develop a tolerance to cannabis if you use it regularly. This means you need more to get the same effect.
If you become addicted, you may feel withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use cannabis. For example, you might:
have sleep problems,
be restless, and
have mood swings.
You might smoke cannabis with tobacco. If you do you may become addicted to nicotine. This means you are at risk of getting diseases such as cancer and heart disease. So, if you stop using nicotine or cut down you could experience nicotine withdrawal too.