What is Cannabis / Dagga?
Cannabis derives it’s name from a plant known as Cannabis Sativa. The plant contains many chemicals (cannabinoids) that cause impairment of neural functions in the brain. The main compound is THC (tetrahidrocannabinol), which causes the major effects experienced by users. The cannabis products that people use for recreation, are commonly called either marijuana (weed), or hashish (hash). They both come from the same plant species. In both products, the most potent active ingredient is THC, but there is a subtle difference between them.
The immediate effects experienced by users include; feeling uninhibited, spontaneous, happy, relaxed, sociable, intensely aware of colours, sounds and smells. In general, users talk about experiencing a “high”. Cannabis is, in part, popular because there are no serious physical withdrawal symptoms, like those caused by alcohol and other drugs. However, abuse does impose some withdrawals when users try to stop, such as anxiety, insomnia and other unpleasant reactions.
Many people experiment with cannabis or dagga at some point in their lives. Some are led to believe that the warnings about cannabis use are hypothetical or contrived. Other people believe that addiction is limited to a select number of people from a particular portion of society. In reality, addiction can target any individual, from any age, career or financial background.
What makes cannabis abuse dangerous, are the many lures and myths surrounding it. For instance, there is the misguided idea that it can be used without obvious physical signs of abuse.
Much is made of the medicinal virtue of cannabis, but this matter is often used as an excuse to rationalise abuse of the drug, without admitting the negative short and long term damage that abuse causes.
Most people who start using it, are not correctly informed about the dangers and yet some are highly susceptible to addiction. Experimentation and peer pressure can introduce them to this drug. At first, it may seem like the ideal way to escape other issues or to simply relax and have a good time. It becomes a go-to “escape mechanism”, a relief from the challenges of life, without having to resort to alcohol or other street drugs.
All these misconceptions make it seem like a “minor sin” and some soon start using it in private, away from the party and social scene. In the process, they become dependent on it and find it hard to break free, because they do not know how to cope with the withdrawals or out of fear that the underlying disorders, which set off their addiction in the first place, can not be coped with in any other way.
They also fear that it may disappoint others or cause humiliation if they admit the problem. This is tragic, as there are well established treatment procedures and the affected person can be helped to achieve a brighter and better life than ever before.