The Effects of Hashish Use
Hashish comes mainly from the flowers (as well as leaves and stems) of the cannabis plant. The active ingredient in hash is the same as the active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); however, the concentration of THC in hashish is much higher than it is in marijuana. The concentrations of THC found in most marijuana products ranges between 1% and 5%, whereas in blocks of hashish it ranges between 5% and 15%. Hash oil is an even more concentrated form of hashish and may have as high as 20% concentrations of THC, per the Drug Enforcement Administration.
When it comes to the active psychoactive chemicals substances involved, the mechanism of action of hashish is similar to that of marijuana. THC binds to certain receptors in the brain known as cannabinoid receptors, evoking feelings of euphoria, well-being, and sedation. THC also affects cognition, including memory and concentration, and motor coordination.
Is Hash Harmful?
Because hashish and related products are produced from cannabis, many accredited organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association, include hashish and marijuana as drugs that can facilitate the development of a condition known as cannabis use disorder. While many believe that hashish and marijuana are drugs with no potential serious dangers, there is evidence to the contrary.
There are a number of different risks associated with chronic use of cannabis products, such as hashish:
- Research has indicated that when children and adolescents chronically use cannabis products they inevitably suffer damage to areas within the white matter of the brain, which can negatively affect learning and memory.
- Individuals who use cannabis products have high rates of alcohol use disorders (greater than 50% concordance) and tobacco use disorders (greater than 50%). The American Psychiatric Association reports that rates of other substance use disorders are also high among individuals who chronically use cannabis products.
- Individuals who smoke cannabis products often will have the same types of respiratory problems associated with smoking tobacco; however, it is not been fully determined if there is an increased risk of lung cancer associated with smoking cannabis products such as hashish.
- Pregnant women using cannabis products increase the risk of developmental issues in their children.
- Long-term use of cannabis products has been associated with a number of mental health issues including the development of psychosis in a small number of individuals – especially after these individuals had been using cannabis products for some time as adolescents and young adults.
- According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 1/3 of adolescents with cannabis use disorders have issues with anxiety, depression or PTSD, and 60% have issues with ADHD or conduct disorders.
Hash’s Short-Term Effects
The short-term effects of hashish use include:
- A feeling of well-being or happiness.
- Enhanced emotional experiences.
- Vivid sensual experiences including vision, hearing, and taste.
- The sense that time moves more slowly.
- The sense that time moves more slowly.
- A feeling of passiveness.
- Increased sociability.
- A reduction in fear and behavioral inhibitions.
Hash Side Effects
Some of the side effects of using hashish include:
- Sensory distortions.
- Nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
- Significant loss of motor coordination.
- Changes in respiration.
- Increased heartbeat and blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular issues (e.g., heart attack).
- Extreme sleepiness.
- Increased appetite and weight gain.
- The increased potential to be involved in accidents due to the loss of coordination and poor decision-making.
- Anxiety, panic attacks, confusion and a sense of a loss of control.
- An inability to make sound decisions.
Long-Term Effects of Abusing Hashish
Individuals who chronically use or abuse hashish or other cannabis products may often have issues with:
- Lowered resistance to common illnesses such as colds, the flu, and bronchitis.
- Adolescent growth issues.
- Abnormal cell structure and cell division.
- Reduction of testosterone production and reduced sexual functioning.
- Respiratory problems.
- Emotional and psychological issues that include apathy, a lack of motivation, depression and an increased risk for the development of psychosis.
- Changes in mood and cognition.
Many of these issues may persist over time and may extend past the period of use.
The term dependence is no longer used to signify an addiction or substance use disorder (the current preferred clinical term). Physical dependence refers to the physiological adaptation of the body to the drug’s presence. Withdrawal symptoms will occur with decreased levels of the substance in a person’s system, once physical dependence is established.
Even though many sources in the past denied that cannabis products could produce serious addictive behaviors, many national organizations such as the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the American Psychiatric Association now consider the development of substance use disorders involving cannabis products a reality. The American Psychiatric Association formally lists the diagnostic criteria associated with a cannabis use disorder (e.g., a hashish use disorder). They include:
- Experiencing many unsuccessful attempts to control or cut back on the use of hashish.
- Financial problems associated with hashish use and purchasing of hashish products.
- Issues with one’s job, personal relationships or school as a result of the use of hashish.
- Issues with one’s health or psychological well-being as a result of hashish use.
- Craving hashish relatively often.
- Continuing to use hashish even though using it has many negative ramifications.
- Getting extremely angry or defensive when the excessive hashish use in pointed out.
- The development of tolerance.
Hashish Withdrawal Treatment
When used chronically, cannabis products will often result in the experience of withdrawal symptoms once the drug is discontinued. Hash withdrawal symptoms include:
- Disturbing dreams.
- Loss of appetite/weight loss.
While the symptoms from hashish withdrawal are not considered to be serious or potentially physically damaging in the same way that withdraw from alcohol is considered dangerous, the symptoms may be psychologically distressing enough to prompt relapse. Formal detox and addiction treatment programs can help you to handle these symptoms and move forward into recovery. To find a program today, call 1-888-744-0069Who Answers?.
- Russo, E. B. (2013). Cannabis and cannabinoids: pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic potential. New York: Routledge.
- Hatfield, R. C. (2013). The everything guide to the human brain. Avon, MA: Adams Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug facts: marijuana.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – fifth edition. Washington, DC: Author.
- McRae-Clark, A. L., Carter, R. E., Killeen, T. K., Carpenter, M. J., Wahlquist, A. E., Simpson, S. A., & Brady, K. T. (2009). A placebo-controlled trial of buspirone for the treatment of marijuana dependence. Drug and alcohol dependence, 105(1), 132-138.
- Mason, B. J., Crean, R., Goodell, V., Light, J. M., Quello, S., Shadan, F., ... & Rao, S. (2012). A proof-of-concept randomized controlled study of gabapentin: effects on cannabis use, withdrawal and executive function deficits in cannabis-dependent adults. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(7), 1689-1698.
- Vandrey, R., Smith, M. T., McCann, U. D., Budney, A. J., & Curran, E. M. (2011). Sleep disturbance and the effects of extended-release zolpidem during cannabis withdrawal. Drug and alcohol dependence, 117(1), 38-44.
- Cravatt, B. F., & Lichtman, A. H. (2003). Fatty acid amide hydrolase: an emerging therapeutic target in the endocannabinoid system. Current opinion in chemical biology, 7(4), 469-475.