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Cannabis Tolerance and Dependence

From the Australian Drug Foundation

With regular use, people can develop a mild tolerance to cannabis. This means they need to take more and more to get the same effect.

Dependence on a drug can be psychological, physical or both.
Psychological dependence:

People can become psychologically dependent on any drug, including cannabis. This means that using cannabis becomes far more important than other activities in their life. Cannabis becomes part of their lifestyle (e.g. reducing stress, increasing relaxation) and some come to depend on it. Some people crave the drug and find it very difficult to stop using it.

Physical dependence:
Physical dependence occurs when a person's body adapts to a drug. The body gets used to functioning with the drug present. Heavy and frequent use of cannabis can cause physical dependence.

Withdrawal
Abrupt termination of cannabis use can produce a mild withdrawal syndrome. Symptoms include sleep disturbance, irritability, loss of appetite and consequent weight loss, nervousness, anxiety, sweating and upset stomach. Sometimes chills, increased body temperature and tremors occur. The withdrawal syndrome usually lasts for less than a week, although the sleep disturbances may persist for a longer period.

Treatment options
In Australia [and the UK], there are a number of drug treatment options. Some aim solely for the user to achieve a drug-free lifestyle. Others recognise abstinence as one option which, due to individual circumstances, may not be possible in certain situations. The overall aim of these programs is to reduce the harm/risks related to a person's drug use.

Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's specific situation and usually involves a combination of methods. The different options include individual counselling, group therapy, medication and supervised/home withdrawal.


Are you Dependent?
If you want to measure whether cannabis still works for you or would like to cut down or quit please visit our Are you Dependent? page.