Hashish Addiction

Hashish Addiction

Hashish Addiction

Hashish AddictionMarijuana and hashish are now the most popular drugs in the United States, especially among young people. Over half of high school students have tried marijuana at least once, and one in 15 uses the drug every day. The new thinking among young people is that marijuana products must be safe and non-addictive because more states are legalizing their use for medical purposes.

However, the legalization of marijuana and hashish is mostly symbolic. They remains Schedule I Controlled Substances under federal laws, which means if you possess or sell hashish, you can be subject to the same severe penalties and fines for dealing in heroin. Federal laws trump state laws.

Obviously, Americans have not figured out what to do about marijuana and hashish.  The issue has become politicized, and therefore it is hard to get accurate information about the drug. Even though they are not as addictive as alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin, marijuana and hashish remain the number one reason drug addicts enter residential treatment, simply because so many millions of Americans are now experimenting with them.

What is Hashish?

Hashish is a substance made from the flowers of cannabis plants. People inhale for its psychotropic effects, usually through pipes called bongs. It is also rolled into dry tobacco and made into cigarettes or mixed into food.  In some cultures, people believe that marijuana leaves are unfit to smoke, and they only use hashish.

Hashish contains delta-9-tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC),  the same chemical in marijuana, but in much stronger concentrations. THC is between 1% and 5% in most marijuana cigarettes but between 5% and 15% in hashish. Hashish oil is even purer, containing about 20% THC. One or two drops of hashish oil and one inhale from a bong is the equivalent of smoking a joint of marijuana.

THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, mostly in the regions of the cerebellum, the hippocampus, and the cerebral cortex. These parts of the brain are involved in  pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, coordinated movement, and sensory and time perception. Endocannabinoids naturally occur in the human brain and attach to the cannabinoid receptors, but THC overactivates this system, resulting in relaxation, euphoria, and mild sedation.

Hashish contains over 400 chemicals, but two notable ones are Cannabidiol (CBD), which produces sedation and may have medical uses; and Cannabigerol (CBG), the one that makes the whites of users’ eyeballs red.

How Do You Make Hashish?

Hashish is made from the resin in trichomes, which are growths on the flowers of cannabis plants. The most primitive way of making hashish is to rub the flower buds with your hands so that the flowers’ resin or sap sticks to them. Other ways involve grinding up the plants and extracting the resin with water or alcohol by using special bags bought in stores that sell drug paraphernalia. The extracted resin can be further refined into hashish oil.

Once the resin is extracted, it is dried and formed into blocks, balls or bricks. People break off small pieces of the hash and smoke them in pipes. Commercial hashish is pressed into cookie sheets and then cut into squares wrapped in aluminum foil, with each square providing one “hit” of hashish.

Most hashish and hashish oil comes from the Middle East, Northern Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

What is the Legal Status of Hashish?

Within federal law, hashish is a Schedule I Controlled Substance and classified as addictive and without medical uses.  The penalties for possessing or selling ten kilograms or less of hashish for a first offense are not more than five years in prison and $250,000 fine, and not more than ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine for a second offense. If you sell or possess ten or more kilograms, you can get not more than 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for a first offense, and 30 years to life and a $1 million fine for a second offense.  If a group is caught dealing in hashish or if a death or injury results from trafficking in this drug, the prison terms and fines are even harsher.

In general, state laws that apply to marijuana also apply to hashish. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the private ownership of marijuana plants and certain restricted uses of it, and they are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont. Laws differ from state to state; for example, in 16 states, only residents can possess marijuana. Colorado’s laws are the most liberal in the world. In the Netherlands, for example, storekeepers can sell marijuana and hashish only to a registered list of buyers, but in Colorado, they can sell to everyone.

Although some states like Arizona and California “allow” the use of cannabis for medical reasons, it is nevertheless illegal for doctors to prescribe marijuana or hashish, although they may be allowed to “recommend it,” as a result of a lawsuit called Conant v. McCaffrey. If they prescribe it, they can have their medical licenses taken away.

Federal laws always trump state laws, which means federal authorities could theoretically close “marijuana medical clinics” and start arresting people in various states where it is “legal.”

What are the Effects of Hashish?

The effects of smoking hashish can last between one and three hours. People feel relaxed, euphoric, drowsy, sedated, and silly, which is the “high” they seek from the drug. The “high” can begin almost instantly if you smoke or inhale hashish vapors, but it takes longer if you eat food laced with the drug.

People say that hashish enhances their senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and time. Colors are more vivid and time moves slowly, for example.

Other common side effects are increased heartbeat, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, lack of coordination, dull attention, psychosis, disorientation, extreme emotionality, and problems in concentration. Hashish reduces your ability to understand what other people are saying, to solve problems and to concentrate.  Some people go into a “couch lock” under the influence of hashish in that they concentrate on one object, sometimes for hours at a time.  The slang for using hashish is “getting stoned” which reflects the “couch lock” phenomenon.

Other slang for using hashish is getting faded, blown away or ripped, taking bowls, and spiffing. Hashish is called names that refer to its shape such as finger, candy bar, surfboard, and patties.  Other slang names for hashish reflect its country of origin like Leb, blonde Lebanese, black Afghani, and Moroccan.

What are the Medical Uses of Hashish?

The United States Food and Drug Administration has not approved hashish for any medical reasons, and it is illegal for doctors to prescribe it. Although some people smoke hashish to relieve glaucoma or symptoms from AIDS or cancer, these are illegal medical uses.

In the late 19th century, doctors often prescribed cannabis drugs in liquid forms for Parkinson’s disease, nervous disorders, childbirth, colic, asthma, alcohol abuse, premenstrual syndrome, anorexia, and other conditions. However, newer and better drugs are now available for these purposes.

When people talk about “medical marijuana,” they are often referring to the fact that ingredients in cannabis can be isolated and used for medical purposes. For example, Dronabinol, Cesamet and Sativet are cannabis drugs in pill or dropper form used for nausea associated with cancer treatment, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis. Some promising new research indicates that shooting THC in cancerous tumors in laboratory animals can kill cancer cells without affecting healthy cells nearby; however, no studies have been done on humans.

What Drugs Interact with Hashish?

certain central nervous depressants, including sleeping pills, opiate painkillers, narcotics, barbiturates, some antidepressants like Prozac, sedatives, cold and flu medications, alcohol, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, and anesthesia should not be taken with hashish. Hashish will lessen the effect of hormones like estrogen and interact with Coumadin and other blood thinners, drugs for asthma such as Theophylline, and disulfiram, a drug used in alcohol treatment.

Does Hashish Show up on Routine Urine Tests?

Yes. THC is fat soluble and stored in fat cells until it is gradually eliminated. About 65% is eliminated through feces, and 30% in urine. Hashish chemicals have a half-life of three to four days in the body, which means you could theoretically test positive for up to 13 days. However, someone who has just tried hashish for the first time probably won’t test positive for that long. On the other hand, heavy users have reported that they have tested positive for up to three months after they quit using hashish.

If you test positive for hashish or marijuana in a state where the drug is “legal” under state laws, your employer still has the right to fire you.

Blood and saliva tests for marijuana and hashish are usually not used except in cases of automobile accidents because these tests only show the current state of THC intoxication.

Since about two in five Americans have tried or are using marijuana or hashish, the question of urine tests has generated a lot of research. There is actually a mathematical model that can estimate the time of cannabis exposure with 95% confidence.

What are the Dangers of Hashish?

Although most people can use hashish in a recreational way, about 7% become addicted to it.

Between 16% and 19% of people involved in automobile accidents test positive for cannabis, which means thousands of people are driving under the influence of THC.

Smoking hashish has bad effects on health, similar to cigarette smoking. Hashish smokers have more colds and coughs, and are more likely to get bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer. People try to get around this by vaporizing hashish, which involves increasing its temperature to over 190 degrees Celsius, and then breathing in “hashish air” instead of hashish smoke.

Pregnant women who use hashish are more likely to have stillborn babies or babies who die within a few days of birth. Hashish causes malformations in newborns when administered to pregnant laboratory animals.

Since hashish affects memory, judgment and perception, it also impairs the ability to pay attention and to learn, which means students who use hashish have lower achievement in school. Heavy hashish “stoners” can lose their motivation and ambition to participate in activities that don’t involve drugs.

Who Should Not Take Hashish?

Hashish increases the speed of heart and is linked to heart attacks. It is not for people with high blood pressure. The chemicals in hashish may suppress the immune system so people with liver diseases and immune disorders should avoid this drug. Hashish affects blood sugar levels so it should not be used by diabetics. Women taking estrogen should not take hashish because it interferes with human hormones. Because hashish is addictive, people with histories of drug abuse or alcoholism should not use it.

What is a Hashish Overdose?

Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-educated professor of medicine, once described how he took a deliberate overdose of hashish. Within 40 minutes of ingesting six grams, he felt ill and could not understand what people were saying. He laid in his bed until morning, experiencing threatening auditory hallucinations. The next twelve hours he was in a semi-conscious state between sleeping and being awake, having vivid nightmares , and sometimes believing he was a six-year-old child with the measles. When he finally awoke, he experienced a 24-hour hangover that “left me prostrate.”

It is very difficult to ingest enough hashish to cause death, but as Dr. Weil described, it is relatively easy to get sick from it. Most people who go to emergency rooms in life-threatening situations involving hashish have combined the drug with other central nervous system depressants. About 375,000 such ER visits occur every year.

What is Hashish Withdrawal?

Hashish withdrawal is a series of unpleasant symptoms that occur when frequent or heavy users try to stop smoking the drug. Usually, the symptoms will start within a day of not using hashish, peak on days second and three of withdrawal, and disappear within a few weeks.  However, certain people will keep having symptoms, such as nightmares and depression, for months after they quit smoking hashish, but t his usually indicates that they have underlying psychiatric problems. The timeline for withdrawal is about the same as that of tobacco withdrawal. The level of difficulty of  the person’s withdrawal syndrome symptoms predicts whether he or she will be using hashish one year later.

Anger, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, decreased appetite, aggression and restlessness are the usual withdrawal symptoms, but some people have flulike symptoms such as sweating and chills as well.

What is Hashish Addiction?

About 7% of people who try marijuana or hashish become addicted to it. This rate compares to the 15% who get addicted to alcohol, 32% for nicotine, 17% for cocaine, and 23% for heroin, according to a 1994 study of 8000 people. Because hashish is stronger than marijuana, it is more addictive.

Marijuana use among young people increased for the fourth straight year in 2011 and is now at a 30-year peak. The annual Monitoring the Future Study of 47,000 high school students found that 50% have tried the drug, and one in fifteen are using it on a daily basis. One in fifteen translates to 7% of all students, which may indicate these students are addicted to it. What is particularly troubling is the many studies have shown that the younger you become addicted to marijuana and hashish, the harder it is to get off it.

Marijuana and hashish are the most common illicit drugs. Because about 40% of all Americans or 72 million have tried marijuana and hashish, the number of people addicted to it is also in the millions. Over 80% or over 750,000 of new admissions to treatment centers involve marijuana, but in the majority of cases it is not the only drug that person is using.

Hashish addiction is covered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association under “Cannabis Dependency” and “Cannabis Abuse.” The symptoms of cannabis dependency involve developing a tolerance for the drug in that you keep needing to take more to achieve the effect you want, drug cravings, withdrawal syndrome, and so forth.

What Treatments Are Available for Hashish Addictions?

Hashish addictions are hard to treat, and over 40% of people who enter treatment will relapse within six months, according to a 2003 study from Yale University.

Hashish addictions are hard to overcome because the person usually has lost all motivation, even the motivation to stop using drugs. Some of the most effective therapy can be motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy, with the goal of helping the patient increase his or her desire to stop using hashish. The other most effective form of psychotherapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a psychologist helps the person learn practical coping skills that lead to a change in lifestyle.

Persons who are using hashish have stronger addictions than those who have been using marijuana, and therefore have a more difficult withdrawal syndrome and more intense cravings for their drug.  During residential treatment, a client learns to anticipate and deal with environmental “triggers” that will cause drug use to reoccur. He or she also learns other ways of coping with stress, such as through art, music, yoga, meditation, sports, and so forth.  Residential treatment usually includes classes in the chemistry of drug addiction and learning how the brain reacts to certain substances in such a way to cause addiction. Residential treatment usually includes getting physically fit through better nutrition and participation in sports and other physical activities.

The number of days you need to spend in residential treatment depends on individual factors but in general, the longer you stay in treatment, the better your outcome. Once you return home from your residential treatment center, you will continue in an aftercare program to help prevent relapsing back into the drug lifestyle.

How Can I Tell if I or a Loved One is Addicted to Hashish?

People who use hashish often talk too loudly and rapidly, and appear “slap happy” or drunk. Or they can act sleepy and drowsy with an inability to coordinate their muscular movements. They may be unable to pay attention to what you were saying. They may have an increased appetite, particularly for sweets, and the whites of their eyes are red.

Hashish usually has a sweet burning odor. Look for drug paraphernalia such as water pipes and distilling equipment.

If you’ve been using hashish and can answer yes to one or more of the following questions, it may be time for you to contact a residential treatment center for your cannabis addiction.

  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed about using hashish?
  • Are you worried that you will get into legal trouble for using hashish?
  • Does using hashish interfere with your performance at work or school?
  • Does your family or friends criticize you for using hashish?
  • Have you tried unsuccessfully on your own to quit using hashish?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using hashish?
  • Do you have trouble going for more than a few days without using hashish?
  • Did you start out using marijuana and then progressed to using hashish, because it was stronger?
  • Do you use hashish along with other drugs, either legal or illegal?
  • Do you use other drugs, such as sleeping pills, to modulate the effects of hashish?
  • Have you ever driven or otherwise put yourself in physical danger under the influence of hashish?

References:

“Monitoring the Future Study,”The University of Michigan 2011, see http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/11drugpr_complete.pdf
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The TEDS Report (Treatment Entry Data Set (Statistics on Drug Treatment Admissions 2012) see: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/TEDS_SR_029_Marijuana_2012/TEDS_Short_Report_029_Marijuana_2012.pdf
“Drug Fact Sheets,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, see http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/concern_fentanyl.shtml
“Marijuana, Drug Facts,” The National Institute of Drug Abuse, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
“Facts on Drugs,”NIDA for Teens, The National Institute of Drug Abuse, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
“Hashish,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.drugs.com/hashish.html
“Marijuana, Drug Facts,” The National Institute of Drug Abuse, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
“Drug Fact Sheets,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, see http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/concern_fentanyl.shtml
“Hashish,” The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, see http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/hashish
Federal Trafficking Penalties for Marijuana, Hashish and Hashish Oil, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency,see http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/ftp_chart2.pdf
Jolly, David. “Dutch Plan to Restrict Marijuana Passes Hurdle,” The New York Times, April 27, 2012
Ingrid, John. “Colorado Pot Legalization,” The Denver Post, see http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22184944/colorado-pot-legalization-30-questions-and-answers
NORML (” Working to Reform Marijuana Laws “) Organization, see http://norml.org/
“Drug Fact Sheets,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, see http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/concern_fentanyl.shtml
Ibid.
Weil, Andrew (MD), “Cutting through the Misinformation,” theHuffington Post, September 2012, seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/can-cannabis-treat-cancer_b_701005.html
National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Infofacts: Marijuana,”see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana
“Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” The National Cancer Institute, The National Institutes of Health, see http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/patient/page2
“Cannabis,” The Mayo Clinic, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/marijuana/NS_patient-marijuana/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all and Marijuana, The RXList, see http://www.rxlist.com/marijuana-page2/supplements.htm#HowDoesItWork
“Marijuana, Drug Facts,” The National Institute of Drug Abuse, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
“Hashish,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.drugs.com/hashish.html
Paulson, Steve. “No Job Protection for Pot Users,” The Denver Post, April 25, 2013.
“Marijuana, Drug Facts,” The National Institute of Drug Abuse, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
“Drug Fact Sheets,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, see http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/concern_fentanyl.shtml
NORML (” Working to Reform Marijuana Laws “) Organization, see http://norml.org/
“Hashish,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.drugs.com/hashish.html
Ibid.
“Cannabis,” The Mayo Clinic, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/marijuana/NS_patient-marijuana/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all and Marijuana, The RXList, see http://www.rxlist.com/marijuana-page2/supplements.htm#HowDoesItWork
Weil, Andrew (MD). The Natural Mind. New York: Mariner Books, 1998, pg. 50-51.
National Institute of Drug Abuse, Marijuana: Research Report Series (pamphlet), see http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrmarijuana.pdf
National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Marijuana: Research Report Series” (pamphlet), see http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrmarijuana.pdf
O’Conner, Lynn (PhD). “Marijuana Addiction Today,” Psychology Today, May 2, 1012, see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-empathic-nature/201205/marijuana-addiction-today
“Cannabis,” The American Psychiatric Association, Criteria and Rational for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition, see
http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=454
National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Marijuana: Research Report Series” (pamphlet), see http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrmarijuana.pdf
Ibid.
Arkowitz, Hal and Scott Littlefield. “Experts Tell the Truth about Marijuana,” The Scientific American, February 22, 2012.
“Monitoring the Future Study,”The University of Michigan 2011, see http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/11drugpr_complete.pdf
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The TEDS Report (Treatment Entry Data Set (Statistics on Drug Treatment Admissions 2012) see: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/TEDS_SR_029_Marijuana_2012/TEDS_Short_Report_029_Marijuana_2012.pdf
“Hashish,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.drugs.com/hashish.html
“Marijuana,” The U.S. Library of Medicine, The National Institutes of Health, Medline, see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001945.htm
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The TEDS Report (Treatment Entry Data Set (Statistics on Drug Treatment Admissions 2012) see: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/TEDS_SR_029_Marijuana_2012/TEDS_Short_Report_029_Marijuana_2012.pdf
Cannabis, The American Psychiatric Association, Criteria and Rational for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition, see
http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevision/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=454
Arkowitz, Hal and Scott Littlefield. “Experts Tell the Truth about Marijuana,” The Scientific American, February 22, 2012.
Ibid.

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