Hash, also known as hashish, is a recreational drug made from the resin of the hemp or cannabis plant. Although it contains THC, the same ingredient believed to be responsible for the “high” you get when smoking marijuana, hash is a more potent drug, with stronger effects and greater risks.
Hash can be taken orally, or smoked, usually in a joint, pipe, or vaporizer. When smoked in a joint, it is mixed with pot or tobacco, because the resin alone will not burn when rolled into a cigarette. Ingesting hash usually produces a feeling of euphoria and relaxation, although some users can instead experience fear, panic and anxiety.
Understanding Hash Abuse
Hash is made from the resin secreted by the cannabis plant. It is much more potent than marijuana, which is made from the plant itself.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s fact sheet, “marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.” It is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States today. “When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.”
Although hash can be physically addictive, physical dependency is not as common as psychological. You may easily come to rely on the relaxing and mood elevating effects of the drug to self-medicate anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, this can backfire, as withdrawal from hash can actually cause depression, irritability and sleep disturbances.
Signs and Symptoms of Hash Abuse
Some signs and symptoms of hash or marijuana use may include:
- laughing for no reason
- red, bloodshot eyes
- unusual hunger, eating lots of junk food
- forgetting things that just happened
- a sweet, smoky smell, or an attempt to cover it up with perfume and/or air fresheners
- an altered sense of time
- altered sensory perception
- difficulty with logical thinking and problem solving
Symptoms of long-term use may include:
- mood swings
- changes in appearance or hygiene
- difficulties with learning and concentration
- secretive behavior
- nervousness and restlessness
- memory problems
- lack of interest in activities the user previously enjoyed
Adverse Effects of Hash Abuse
Hash and marijuana can cause a number of side effects that can last a long time, or even become permanent. The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Research Report on Marijuana lists the following as adverse consequences of cannabis use:
Acute (present during intoxication)
- impaired short-term memory
- impaired attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions
- impaired coordination and balance
- increased heart rate
- anxiety, paranoia
- psychosis (uncommon)
Persistent (lasting longer than intoxication, but may not be permanent)
- impaired learning and coordination
- sleep problems
Long-term (cumulative effects of repeated use)
- potential for addiction
- potential loss of IQ
- increased risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable people
- potentially increased risk of anxiety, depression, and amotivational syndrome
Additional Health Effects
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Drugs of Abuse publication also lists the following adverse physical effects of using hash:
- bronchial asthma
- suppression of the immune system
- increased risk of cancer of the head, neck, lungs, and respiratory tract
Dangers of Hash Abuse
Although many users become addicted to the pleasant sensations created by hash consumption, not everyone has a good time on cannabis drugs.
“Pleasant experiences… are by no means universal. Instead of relaxation and euphoria, some users experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. These effects are more common when too much is taken, the marijuana has an unexpectedly high potency, or a user is inexperienced. People who have taken large doses of marijuana may experience an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity.”
The psychosis and depressive effects caused by withdrawing from heavy marijuana or hash usage, could lead you to accidentally or intentionally harm yourself or others. According to the DEA, withdrawal from chronic high doses of cannabis may also include:
- stomach pains
- sleep difficulties
- decreased appetite
Who Abuses Hash?
Anyone can become addicted to hash, although young people are particularly vulnerable.
You may take hash due to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or in order to self-medicate depression. You may have started taking hash socially, as a party drug, but found yourself seeking it out even when you are alone, just to cope with everyday life.
Due to the recent legalization of marijuana in some areas, especially for medical use, many people have been led into thinking that drugs made from cannabis are harmless. This is far from true. All drugs, even prescription medications, can have dangerous side effects. Many drugs that have beneficial uses when taken at appropriate doses under medical supervision can become highly dangerous when taken for recreational purposes. Drugs made from cannabis, including hash, are no different.
Am I Addicted to Hash?
If you fear that you may be addicted to hash, ask yourself the questions below:
- Do you use hash alone?
- Do you have a hard time getting through the week (or the day) without using drugs?
- Are people in your life concerned about your drug use?
- Do you ever feel bad or guilty about using hash?
- Has drug use created problems between you and the people you love?
- Have you lost friends because of your drug use?
- Have you neglected your family because of your use of drugs?
- Have you been in trouble at school or work because of drug use?
- Have you lost a job or experienced a breakup because of drug use?
- Have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drugs?
- Have you been arrested for possession of illegal drugs?
- Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms (felt sick) when you stopped taking drugs?
- Have you had medical problems as a result of your drug use?
- Do you feel incapable of giving up hash on your own?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be addicted and in need of professional help.
Hash Addiction Treatment
Many people see going into substance abuse treatment as a punishment—sometimes it is even given as a punishment in a court of law. But the truth is that treatment is an opportunity for transformation. It is a chance to put the chaos of your life on pause while you sort through your problems, your challenges, and your goals, using what you learn about yourself to start over, and live a happier, healthier, more meaningful life.
To recover from addiction, you have to first rid your body and brain of your drug of choice. When you stop using hash, you will go through withdrawal as your body detoxes from the harmful substance. This process isn’t dangerous, but it is unpleasant, so it can be beneficial to detox in an addiction treatment center where you have professionals to guide you through.
Rehab and Recovery
You may be nervous about getting counseling and having to talk about your problems—or you may be eager to have someone there to really listen to you. No matter how you feel about talk-therapy now, you’re liable to go through some ups and downs in how you see it throughout your recovery.
In the end, however, you will most certainly appreciate the work you’ve done and how you’ve been able to heal and grow thanks to individual, group, and family counseling.
Other treatment options include:
- 12-step support groups: Meetings based on the AA 12-step philosophies can help you get clean and stay clean for the long term.
- Behavioral therapy: This kind of therapy helps you to identify self-destructive behaviors, and then replace them with new ways of thinking and coping.
- Relapse prevention: Many treatment facilities have program components devoted to supporting sobriety after you return to your regular life. These may include education, alumni support services, and the chance to volunteer as a peer counselor.