A person addicted to ganja and smoking it to get a high.

Artwork by Pooja Sreenivasan

A person addicted to ganja and smoking it to get a high.

Ganja Addiction- All you need to know About

Medically reviewed by

Written by Dhriti Agarwal

Weed, marijuana, pot, or ganja (drug) – the drug derived from the cannabis Sativa or cannabis indica plant goes by many names. Its mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) makes it popular not only for recreation but also as a prescription of medical marijuana (Drug) by a growing number of doctors for specific medical conditions and symptoms. Weed is often dubbed a “gateway drug” to the “harder stuff” but it is its addictiveness that is the most debated and misjudged.

What is Ganja Addiction?

Ganja addiction refers to the compulsive and harmful dependence on marijuana, a psychoactive substance derived from the Cannabis plant. Individuals experiencing this addiction may face difficulties in controlling their use, leading to negative impacts on various aspects of their life.

Can you Stop Using Ganja When you Want to?

“People assume weed isn’t addictive because they know “other people” who have experimented with joints and bongs without any serious consequences or immediate tragedy. But if you know that the chemicals released during the combustion process make smoking tobacco harmful, why do you think smoking weed would be any different?,” explains Dr. BR Madhukar, Medical Director, Cadabams Group.

Like other drugs, marijuana dependence can lead to physiological marijuana dependence, a distinct withdrawal syndrome, and trouble in your social, professional, and personal life. Studies show that 1 in 10 adults who use weed can get addicted. Your chances go up to 1 in 6 if you use it before age 18. It might be as high as 1 in 2 among those who use it every day. Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use weed may have some degree of Ganja use disorder. Experts are still investigating why some people become addicted while others don’t.

Unfortunately, the lack of immediate consequences of weed addiction and the softened attitudes of and toward people who use marijuana often result in a long and slow decline, possibly without recognition. You might start smoking weed as a social activity or to help avoid negative experiences like insomnia, anxiety, or depression. Then it becomes a “way to relax after a long day” till you need to use it long term and your life starts revolving entirely around weed. Isolation from friends and family, loss of interest and lack of participation in those activities that used to bring joy, and the crushing weight of missed opportunities add up. [Life with Hope, 3rd Ed.].

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When your life starts revolving around cannabis (Drug)

Long-term marijuana use often leads to a significant physical dependence on the drug and your body starts relying on the presence of the drug to function normally or you might feel withdrawal symptoms like irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, and/or restlessness without it. This happens because exposure to large amounts of weed makes your brain adapt by reducing production and sensitivity to its endocannabinoid receptors. You feel the need to start using weed again to stop feeling this way, which only ends up intensifying your dependence on the drug.

This dependence often develops alongside tolerance, where you have to use an increased quantity of the drug or use it more frequently to achieve the pleasurable feeling marijuana provided in the past. Since not everyone who develops marijuana dependence will necessarily start using it compulsively, dependence or withdrawal is not enough to make a diagnosis of CUD but they still are harbingers of a future substance use disorder.

‍Ganja Addiction: What should you be looking out for?

While people living with certain medical conditions use weed to alleviate pain and others can have a healthy and responsible relationship with weed, there is no debate that weed is both physiologically and psychologically addictive. While the only way to not get addicted to weed is by never using it in the first place, you can lower your risk by using it only on specific days and by avoiding it in adolescence.

If you find yourself using weed almost every day and are unable to give up on weed even when it starts hindering your social, professional, and personal life, you might have to worry about CUD. A combination of cannabis abuse and dependence in the DSM-5, Cannabis Use Disorder is a problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.

Some warning signs are:

  • Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.        
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use.        
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.        
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis.        
  • Recurrent cannabis use results in failure to fulfill role obligations at work, school, or home.        
  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.        
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.        
  • Cannabis use continues despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
  • Tolerance, as defined by either: (1) a need for markedly increased cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect or (2) a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.      
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either (1) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis or (2) cannabis is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

What if you have Cannabis Use Disorder?

We know it’s scary, especially because it is illegal and not a topic you can bring up with everyone but you can reach out to us and we will hear you out and help you get sober with complete confidentiality and anonymity and no legal repercussions. We firmly believe that anyone who experiences marijuana dependence should receive support from those who understand that cannabis addiction is a medical condition, not a personal or moral failure. We encourage you to view it in that light because there is scope for recovery.

There are behavioral interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards for abstinence) and a 12-step program specifically for marijuana users (Marijuana Anonymous) that have proven effective in Ganja de-addiction treatment and rehab for CUD by facilitating a change in thoughts and behaviors that make it hard to quit.

Ganja Effects: Explained in Detail

Ganja's effects on the user vary widely depending on several factors, including the strain, method of consumption, individual physiology, and frequency of use. The effects can be physical and psychological, ranging from short-term changes in perception and mood to long-term health implications.

Short-term Effects of Ganja:

Immediate Sensory Changes: Users often experience altered senses, such as a heightened sense of taste, touch, and smell.

Mood Alterations: Many report feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and, in some cases, anxiety or paranoia.

Cognitive Impacts: Short-term memory, attention, and decision-making can be impaired while under the influence.

Physical Changes: These can include increased heart rate, dry mouth, and red eyes.

Long-term Effects of Ganja:

Cognitive Function: Prolonged use may impact cognitive function and memory, especially when started at a young age.

Mental Health: There is a potential link between long-term ganja use and mental health issues like depression or anxiety, and in some cases, it may exacerbate symptoms of psychotic disorders.

Respiratory Issues: Smoking ganja regularly can affect lung health, similar to tobacco.

Dependency: While not as addictive as some substances, there is a potential for developing a dependence on ganja.

Ganja’s Effects on Different Demographics

Ganja’s Effects on Adolescents:

Young users are at a higher risk for developing long-term cognitive and mental health issues, as their brains are still developing. There is also a concern about the impact on academic performance and social interactions.

Ganja’s Effects on Adults:

Adults can experience varying effects based on their health, usage patterns, and reasons for using ganja (recreational vs. medicinal). In adults, the risk of dependency and its impact on lifestyle and mental health is a significant concern.

Ganja’s Effects on Seniors:

Seniors are increasingly turning to ganja for pain relief and other medical reasons. The effects in older adults can be more pronounced due to interactions with other medications and age-related health issues.

Ganja’s Effects on Pregnant Women:

Ganja use during pregnancy is a significant concern due to potential impacts on fetal development and the risk of birth complications.

Ganja Addiction: A Comparative Analysis

Ganja vs. Other Substances:

When compared to substances like alcohol or tobacco, ganja has a different risk profile. It is generally considered less addictive and has a lower risk of overdose. However, it's not without its risks, particularly in terms of mental health and cognitive function.

Medicinal vs. Recreational Use:

Medicinal use of ganja is often targeted and controlled, focusing on alleviating specific symptoms like pain or nausea. Recreational use, on the other hand, is more about experiencing psychoactive effects, which can lead to potentially risky patterns of use and lead to addiction or dependency. 

Legal vs. Illegal Use:

While the legal status of ganja greatly influences its purity, potency, and the safety of its use, the risk of addiction remains. In regions where it's legal, some regulations help control these factors, potentially reducing the risks associated with its use. However, it does not address overuse and dependence. 

Approaches to Ganja Addiction Treatment

Ganja addiction, like other forms of substance abuse, requires a comprehensive treatment approach. Effective treatment typically involves a combination of medical, psychological, and social support methods to help individuals overcome their addiction and maintain long-term sobriety.

Medical Detoxification Process

The initial step in treating ganja addiction usually involves a medically supervised detoxification process. This process helps individuals safely withdraw from ganja under medical supervision. Detoxification is important as it addresses the physical aspects of addiction, helping to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild anxiety and irritability to more severe symptoms like insomnia and depression. 

Behavioral Therapies for Ganja Addiction

Behavioral therapies help individuals understand the root causes of their addiction, develop coping strategies, and learn how to avoid triggers that might lead to relapse. Common approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps alter negative thought patterns, and motivational interviewing, which increases an individual's motivation to make progress. These therapies can be conducted in individual or group settings and are tailored to meet each person's unique needs.

Family Support and Group Therapy

Family support and group therapy play a vital role in the recovery process. Addiction not only affects the individual but also their family and loved ones. Family therapy sessions can help repair and strengthen family relationships, providing a support system for the individual. Additionally, group therapy offers a platform for individuals to share experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges, fostering a sense of community and mutual support.

Long-term Recovery and Relapse Prevention

Long-term recovery from ganja addiction involves ongoing effort and support. Relapse prevention is critical and involves strategies to recognize and manage triggers and cravings. This includes continued therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes such as engaging in regular physical activity and stress management techniques. 

Finding the Right Treatment Facility for Ganja Deaddiction

Choosing the right Ganja addiction treatment facility is crucial for effective recovery from Ganja addiction. If you or your loved one is going through ganja addiction, Cadabams Anunitha is a dedicated deaddiction center that offers specialized programs tailored to each individual's unique needs and experiences. 

Cadabams Anunitha, a center specifically focused on deaddiction, offers a safe and comfortable therapeutic environment conducive to healing. Their programs are designed to address not just the physical aspect of addiction but also the psychological and social factors, ensuring a well-rounded approach to recovery.

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FAQs:

What is Ganja addiction?

Ganja addiction refers to a problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to significant impairment or distress, characterized by symptoms such as a persistent desire to use, unsuccessful efforts to cut down, and continued use despite adverse consequences.

Can you get addicted to weed?

Yes, weed (Ganja) can be addictive. Studies show that about 1 in 10 adults who use weed can get addicted, and this risk increases to 1 in 6 if use begins before age 18.

What are the signs and symptoms of Ganja addiction?

Signs include using cannabis in more significant amounts or over a longer period than intended, persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down, spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from cannabis, and continued use despite social or interpersonal problems.

How to avoid Ganja addiction?

The only sure way to avoid ganja addiction is by not using it. Look to prioritize responsibilities, seek healthy coping mechanisms, and be aware of potential risks. 

Is Ganja addictive?

Yes, Ganja is both physiologically and psychologically addictive. While not everyone who uses Ganja will develop an addiction, the risk exists, especially with regular or heavy use.

What are the treatment options for Ganja addiction?

Ganja addiction treatment options include a combination of behavioral interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational incentives, and other supplementary therapies such as group therapy. These treatments focus on changing thoughts and behaviors related to cannabis use.

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