Why is cannabis addictive?

Smoking weed and hash is sometimes seen as harmless and not addictive. Unfortunately this is not entirely accurate. In particular, the idea that cannabis is not addictive is a widespread myth that needs to be nuanced. In this blog we therefore discuss how it is that the use of cannabis can have an addictive effect and how you can recognize a cannabis addiction.


A natural drug

Weed and hashish are classified as soft drugs in the Opium Act because they pose less of a risk to health and society than other drugs. Cannabis is also a completely natural product that can also be easily grown in almost any climate. All this makes cannabis a popular plant, enjoyed by many people around the world. The natural character of this drug causes many people to see it as harmless and not, or at least much less, addictive than other (semi) synthetic substances. There is certainly a grain of truth in this, apart from the fact that cannabis can also be used therapeutically for various complaints with positive effects on health. Also, cannabis has no physical addictive effects, which again distinguishes it from most hard drugs. The addictive element in cannabis is therefore mainly mental, or psychological.


Mental dependence

How is it then that the use of cannabis can lead to psychological dependence? This has to do with one of the active substances in cannabis that causes the 'being high' or the well-known 'stoned' feeling: THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. When you inhale this substance while smoking weed or hashish, this substance is absorbed into the blood via the lungs, after which it ends up in the brain. This is the point that is important to explain the addictive effects of cannabis. Our brains consist of neurons and neurotransmitters, and they themselves produce substances that resemble THC. The receptors in our brain absorb these substances, which also happens when inhaling THC. By supplying THC you essentially make your brain 'lazy', because it sees THC as a neurotransmitter, so that it produces less itself. This process leads to psychological dependence in the long term.


Recognize cannabis addiction

A cannabis addiction can be recognized by various symptoms. In particular, cannabis has a negative impact on short-term memory. Users therefore have to think more when having a conversation, because they are more likely to forget what they said the moment before. Due to the mental dependency that cannabis can create, users often become restless when trying to stop smoking, as the brain now produces fewer neurotransmitters. Other symptoms of a cannabis addiction are balance or concentration problems, poorer memory, looking tired, neglecting social contacts and school or work and thinking that you can no longer do without it.


Everything in moderation

Although the dangers of cannabis are relatively minor, it is certainly important to be aware of the addictive effect it can have. Some people are also more sensitive to this than others. With a drug like cannabis, the saying 'everything in moderation' is therefore a good motto.

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