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Learning About Cannabis Use Disorder

What is cannabis use disorder?

Cannabis is a drug that comes from the cannabis plant. Different forms of cannabis include marijuana, hashish, and hash oil.

Using cannabis doesn't often cause health problems. But some people become dependent on it. This is called cannabis use disorder. It can cause problems like:

  • Extreme changes in mood.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Memory problems.

What are the symptoms?

You may be dependent on cannabis if two or more of the following are true:

  • You use larger amounts of the drug than you ever meant to. Or you've been using it for a longer period of time than you ever meant to.
  • You can't cut down or control your use. Or you constantly wish you could cut down.
  • You spend a lot of time getting or using the drug, or recovering from the effects.
  • You have strong cravings for the drug.
  • You can no longer do your main jobs at work, school, or home.
  • You keep using even though your drug use is hurting your relationships.
  • You have stopped doing important activities because of your drug use.
  • You use drugs in situations where doing so is dangerous.
  • You keep using it even though you know it is causing physical or psychological health problems.
  • You need more and more of the drug to get the same effect, or you get less effect from the same amount over time. This is called tolerance.
  • You have uncomfortable symptoms when you try to stop using the drug. This is called withdrawal.

How is cannabis use disorder treated?

Treatment may include group therapy, one or more types of counselling, and drug education. Sometimes medicines are used to help manage symptoms.

Treatment focuses on more than drug use. It helps you cope with the anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment that often happen when a person tries to stop using drugs.

Treatment also looks at other parts of your life. For example, how are your relationships with friends and family? What's going on at school and work? Do you have health problems? What is your living situation? Treatment helps you find and manage problems. It helps you take control of your life so you don't have to depend on drugs.

A drug problem affects the whole family. Family counselling often is part of treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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