Cannabis use disorder is a diagnosis that is given to people who have problematic marijuana use. This was previously known as Cannabis Dependence, this name change does not mean that cannabis is not addictive or that you cannot become dependent on it. The term cannabis use disorder encapsulates the possibility that people can be negatively impacted by marijuana use, without necessarily being addicted. However, it also has space to recognise that addiction can happen.
Just because they have changed the label, and the word “use” has replaced “abuse” or “dependence,” doesn’t mean that cannabis isn’t addictive. In fact, there is research that shows, conclusively, that cannabis can be addictive.
Cannabis Use Disorder Signs and Symptoms
At least two of the below symptoms within 12 months can indicate cannabis use disorder:
- Taking more cannabis than intended
- Difficulty controlling or cutting down cannabis use
- Spending a lot of time on cannabis use
- Craving cannabis
- Problems at work, school, and home as a result of cannabis use
- Continuing to use cannabis despite it causing social or relationship problems
- Giving up or reducing other activities in favour of cannabis
- Taking cannabis in high-risk situations
- Continuing to use cannabis despite physical or psychological problems
- Tolerance to cannabis
- Withdrawal when discontinuing cannabis
It is important to remember, cannabis use disorder does mean that the severity of the person’s physical addiction is completely unrelated to the severity of their disorder. With a list of 11 symptoms, someone can have a severe cannabis use disorder, without having any tolerance or withdrawal. By the same thought, they can meet the criteria for mild cannabis use disorder, despite experiencing severe physical tolerance and withdrawal.
When Was Cannabis Use Disorder Added to the DSM
The diagnosis was introduced in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition or DSM-5. In the previous edition, the DSM-IV-TR, problematic use of cannabis or marijuana was separated into two different disorders, cannabis abuse, and cannabis dependence.
How is Cannabis Use Disorder Treated
People with marijuana use disorders, especially adolescents, often also suffer from other psychiatric disorders (comorbidity). They may also use or be addicted to other substances, commonly cocaine or alcohol. Most studies indicate that effectively treating the mental health disorder with standard treatments involving medications and behavioural therapies may help reduce marijuana use. The following treatments have shown promise:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy: A form of psychotherapy that teaches you strategies to identify and manage problematic behaviours to enhance self-control and stop drug use.
- Contingency management: A therapeutic management approach based on frequent monitoring of the target behaviour and the provision (or removal) of tangible, positive rewards when the target behaviour occurs (or does not).
- Motivational enhancement therapy: A systematic form of an intervention designed to produce rapid, internally motivated change; the therapy does not attempt to treat the person, but rather mobilize their internal resources for change and engagement in treatment.
Cannabis Use Disorder Withdrawal
Described by the American Psychiatric Association the below are the symptoms appear within one week after the individual stops smoking marijuana and include:
- Feelings of anger, irritability, and/or aggressiveness
- Sensations of extreme nervousness or anxiety
- Disturbances with sleep that can include insomnia or very disturbing dreams and even nightmares
- A decrease in appetite that may or may not be associated with a significant loss of weight
- Feelings of restlessness and general malaise
- The onset of feelings of depression
- The inclusion of at least one physical symptom that causes significant distress, such as abdominal pain, fever, chills, sweating, headache, and/or tremors or shakiness.
Getting Help With a Cannabis Use Disorder
We have developed a virtual version of The Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test – Revised (CUDIT-R). Which you can complete below. This we help to establish whether you do or do not have a problem with marijuana. This is an essential step to not only help us help you but to also realistically identify your issues to yourself.