Hashish (commonly referred to as hash) is a product derived from the flowers, leaves, stems, and trichomes (fine hair-like outgrowths or appendages on plant material) of cannabis. Hash drug abuse and dependence have and do occur and can lead to many adverse health complications and can have detrimental effects on a person’s personal and professional life.
Hashish consists of the same active ingredient as marijuana—THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). However, this chemical is typically found in much higher concentrations in hashish than in marijuana. Moreover, the average percentage of THC in marijuana in the U.S. is about 5 percent, whereas THC levels in hashish can be as high as 15 percent.
How Is Hashish Used and How Does it Work?
THC works in the brain by binding to neurochemicals known as cannabinoid receptors. This action produces many mental, emotional, and physical effects.
Hash oil is a sticky, resinous liquid produced by extracting solvents of hashish or marijuana. Commonly used solvents are butane and alcohol. Hash oil color can range from golden or light brown to tan or black.
Hashish is typically sold in blocks of solid, resinous products, but the appearance and consistency vary. Hash oil is commonly smoked or consumed orally, with the onset of effects being significantly more rapid when smoked.
When smoked, hashish pipes or bongs are commonly employed. Users have also reported inhaling the product via vaporizers to avoid the smoke and its adverse effects. When consumed, hashish can be added to food or brewed as a tea.
Medical Use and U.S. Legal Status
The medicinal potential of cannabis-related products has been the focus of a few studies, and findings have been mixed. Several U.S. states and municipalities have decriminalized recreational marijuana or fully legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes.
Despite this fact, it should be noted that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) still classifies cannabis, and therefore hashish, as a Schedule I controlled substance. This classification means it is considered to have no legitimate medical purpose and a relatively high potential for abuse—a designation that has been hotly debated for some time.
The high THC levels in hashish products can lead to numerous health and social problems for users. There has been a significant increase in emergency room visits related to cannabis intoxication or “overdose” in states that have decriminalized or legalized its use and where the average potency of THC is relatively high.
For example, in Colorado, emergency department visits related to cannabis abuse increased by 57% between 2011-2013. Individuals who use hashish in very high THC concentrations risk encountering more dramatic effects and increase addiction potential.
Signs and Symptoms of Hash Drug Abuse
Hash use and abuse have been associated with several signs and symptoms, such as the following:
- Increased relaxation
- Increased appetite
- Sore throat
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Impaired coordination
- Loss of motivation
- Impaired concentration
- Hallucinations and delusions
Effects of Hash Abuse
Using hash over an extended period can produce a range of undesirable effects, such as the following:
- Immune system suppression
- Respiratory health problems similar to those associated with smoking tobacco
- Sexual dysfunction in men
- Developmental problems in infants exposed to THC in the womb
- Increased risk of cardiovascular problems
- Development of mental health issues (e.g., depression or anxiety)
- Development of dependence and tolerance
Likewise, chronic hash use may result in structural and functional brain changes, which can reduce a person’s ability to learn, concentrate, solve problems, and recall memories.
Other adverse consequences associated with hashish abuse or addiction include the following:
- Poor work or academic performance
- Loss of employment
- Financial problems
- Legal issues related to illicit drug use
- Strained or broken relationships with loved ones
- Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Neglect of personal responsibilities
- Compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of adverse effects
Hashish Use Statistics
Research statistics related explicitly to hash used in the U.S. are limited. However, there are a few facts known about the overall usage of cannabis products, including the following:
In a 2013 poll, more than 1/3 of Americans reported having used marijuana. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2014) reported more than 22 million individuals in the U.S. were actively using marijuana. The same survey (NSDUH) found that marijuana was the most commonly abused drug.
According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), cannabis is second only to alcohol as the most frequently found substance in the systems of drivers who are involved in deadly auto accidents.
Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction
Just a few years ago, the use of marijuana wasn’t thought to lead to dependence or addiction very often. However, increasing levels of THC are now believed to be contributing to such conditions. Consequently, an increasing number of individuals are seeking professional substance abuse treatment.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer personalized, multi-faceted programs intended to treat all aspects of drug abuse and co-occurring mental health issues. Our highly-skilled addiction treatment specialists are dedicated to providing those we treat with all the tools and support they need to recover and sustain long-lasting sobriety.