Public Release: 

The dark side of cannabis

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International

Although the use of cannabis as a medical drug is currently booming (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109: 495-501), we should not forget that leisure time consumption--for example, smoking weed--can cause acute and chronic harms. These include panic attacks, impaired coordination of movement, and nausea, as Eva Hoch and colleagues show in a topical review article in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 271-8). The symptoms depend on a patient's age, the amount of the drug consumed, and the frequency of drug use. It also matters in which form the cannabis is consumed--for example, as a joint, bong, or hash cake.

Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug in Germany and was consumed by almost one in 20 adults in Germany last year. An estimated one in 10 consumers will become dependent. This is critical especially for adolescents, because they are more prone to becoming dependent than adults. Addiction treatment is mostly provided on an outpatient basis. Currently, combination therapy--consisting of motivational support, cognitive behavioral therapy, and contingency management (learning via systematic rewards)--is the most promising approach, as the authors emphasize. They recommend combination therapy, together with a family therapeutic intervention, especially for adolescents with dependency problems.


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