Cannabis has a reputation of being both an illegal as well as a medicinal drug for a long time. But recently it has come under a lot of fire for its association with mental illness. Extensive research has been conducted in this field which shows compelling results linking the use of marijuana to increased risk of a myriad of mental illnesses like psychosis (schizophrenia), depression and anxiety. Whether or not this represents the reality is a question that remains a mystery owing to the ambiguities present in the studies provided by the researchers. In this article, we look at cannabis and mental health in detail.
Drugs have been popular among youngsters from time immemorial. People tend to be curious about how drugs would make them feel. Younger strata of the society are more socially inclined to the use of drugs due to peer pressure and in many cases, to look “cool”. One such drug popular among the people of a younger age is cannabis.
Cannabis belongs to the plant family of nettle, which has seen recent growth like wildfire around the world. Due to its medicinal properties, it has been used extensively throughout human history for a plethora of reasons. The cannabis reaches the user in two forms. In the form of resins, it appears as a brown-black lump often called bhang or ganja. It is also available in the form of dried leaves due to which it is called grass, marijuana or weed.
Shrunk cannabis, on the other hand, can be made from the cannabis plant which has a stronger effect on the brain owing to the presence of an active ingredient called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Effect of Cannabis on Mental Health
This drug has been considered illegal for use but owing to its usage for certain illnesses and considering its effect on health, this area needs more research. Cannabis and mental health seem to be associated considering its effects on the human body. Moreover, it is important to understand the safety of its use in people with mental illnesses. With the increasing push to legalize cannabis in Western nations, it is necessary to gauge the potential impact of such changes in policies on people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, mood, and anxiety disorders.1
The main effect of cannabis starts when it reaches one’s bloodstream. When a person comes in contact with cannabis in any form either smoke or solid, the components present in it quickly reach the bloodstream and then to the brain. This chemical then bonds itself to the receptors present on the brain. This type of bonding causes the release of chemicals from the nerve cells, which then starts affecting the brain. These chemicals are the reason for the effects of cannabis. The effect of this varies from person to person. It can be enjoyable as well as unpleasant. Two sets of experiences start to develop on the person ingesting cannabis. One is the good or pleasant effect, which can make a person feel elated, colors may feel more intense, a person may feel more relaxed and the person’s need to talk would considerably increase. The other set of effects includes a bad trip experience. This would make anyone feel paranoid, sick, unmotivated and depressed.
It is rightly said that the uncontrolled use of anything is bad. The same is the case with cannabis as well. Too much of it can make a person addicted to it, which can cause problems in the future.
Cannabis and Mental Health
Experts suggest that the use of cannabis can cause problems to mental health and make them worse if someone already has a problem with the same.
Research has shown that the people who are prone to developing mental diseases have a very high probability of showing degradation in mental health as opposed to the ones who don’t provide they use the cannabis plant regularly. The studies have also shown that these diseases are more likely to show symptoms if someone in the family had an experience with them. For example, if someone in the family has had a history of mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia then a family member is more likely going to develop the same on the regular ingestion of cannabis. Such potential risks make the evaluation of cannabis and mental health necessary, as it can prevent further problems in people with mental illnesses.
Being younger only adds to the problem. The younger developing brain is more likely to get damaged by the harmful chemicals present inside cannabis. Although the harmful effects of this can be reduced by trying to get rid of this habit of smoking cannabis, the symptoms like depression, paranoia as well as hearing voice might become permanent and may never wither away even with time.
Research has also shown that after the detection of these symptoms of the patient does not stop the use of cannabis in any form, it might cause a worsening of the symptoms. Even if the person is getting some kind of treatment from the doctor, the treatment might not give significant results as expected by the doctor. Some disbelief has still prevailed among people of all ages, which is that they feel better after using Cannabis in some form or the other for treatment. Although it may seem to offer relaxation and motivation initially, it can cause harm in the long run. In reality, the symptoms may get worse with time and never go away if no prior treatment is provided.
This study is about a young 16-year-old girl named Louise. She started ingesting cannabis at a very young age with a belief to relax her mind during the exams. In the beginning, she felt that the drug actually worked and she felt calmer and more relaxed but later she realized that ingesting cannabis made her feel more anxious and she started forgetting what she revised. To get over it she started to increase the dose and ingesting more of the drug to reduce the symptoms. This increased dose made her more addicted to the drug and she felt as if she was enjoying the use of the drug. Her parents got worried as they started to notice that her eyes got red, which at first they thought was some kind of illness. In response to this, they took her to a doctor who conducted a test on her. It was from this test that they found out that she was in the influence of drugs. Being a parent her mother started to help her get rid of the addiction as well as the stress, which caused her to ingest the drug in the first place.
This made her cut down on the drugs and slowly she started to completely remove the habit of ingesting this harmful drug. As per her the only regret that she had was that it made her feel better in the beginning. Later she realized that taking drugs to deal with stress was never something that can be considered as an answer to this. Instead, stress management techniques, relaxation methods and if needed, professional counseling and medical aid must be considered.
Dealing with Cannabis and Mental Health
Dealing with cannabis and mental health is not difficult if planned properly. The first task to do if a person ever feels that they have this problem wherein they are inclined to the abuse of this drug is to talk to someone responsible. If their mental health starts to deteriorate family and friends are going to be their best bet. They might later help them in this regard. Later, they can consult either a doctor, teacher, social worker, professional counselor or nurse. They can seek help and medical advice from expert professionals who deal with this kind of a problem in youth. The best way to deal with it would be to talk to someone about it. The younger population is more likely to get better if they get help from an early stage. Experts believe that their symptoms can completely go away if they can get early diagnosis and treatment.
Cannabis and mental health are related and it is believed that usage of cannabis can worsen the mental illness in the long run. People experiencing stress and using cannabis to find relief can find alternative ways for relaxation. They can try helping themselves to increase the chances of getting better results in the end. Start by going through the day without the use of cannabis. Try to avoid the tendency of bulk buying. Try to not associate with people, places, and friends who are involved with drug usage. Try to not talk or go out with such people. Don’t use cannabis in any form ever even if a person feels depressed or sad in any way. Cannabis is not the answer to the stress and it will only worsen the overall health and performance. The use of cannabis in any form must be stopped if the person feels that they are getting hallucinations or hearing voices. At last, try to seek help from anyone they think is responsible enough to take good care of themselves.
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