Cannabis use is more common than you think, and opinions are divided on it. When it comes to substance misuse e.g. cannabis or alcohol, two competing views exist – The abstinence model and the Harm reduction model. Both seek to ensure alcohol or drugs don’t ruin the individual or their family.
Cannabis has some medicinal uses particularly in the area of nausea & vomiting, glaucoma, and pain associated with the nervous system. but I will be looking at its recreational use.
A hallucinogenic drug, it comes in a few different forms; herbal cannabis or weed, Cannabis Resin or Hash and it can be used in a number of ways. Cannabis can make you feel relaxed; calm; anxious; paranoid; dizzy; nauseous; restless; quiet; talkative; giggly; subdued; sleepy; animated and distorts perceptions.
The most important chemical is THC as it is primarily responsible for the positive and negative effects. Another important chemical is CBD. Some resins can include beeswax, boot polish, animal excrement, turpentine, ground coffee, milk powder, pine resin, barbiturates, ketamine, aspirin, glue or dye.
The effects depend on the amount taken, strength and type, the way it is taken (smoked, eaten etc.), and significantly, the mental state of the user. Long term use may lower sperm count and suppress ovulation. Regular use may effect memory, mood, motivation & ability to learn.
mental health problems
Most people who smoke cannabis on an occasional basis experience no long term lasting impacts. However I am extremely concerned regarding users who have a genetic loading to mental health issues. The cannabis of today is much more potent than 20-30 yrs ago, designed to get people more addicted more quickly with its increased potency. Walk into any mental health admission unit setting on a Monday or Tuesday and see the young men with pronounced ‘paranoia’, anxious and psychotic states. As these individuals enter the formal mental health system they may emerge with significant mental health problems, such as depression and schizophrenia. I can’t ignore this.
This genetically loaded group in the absence of cannabis have a fighting chance of not coming into mental health services. People who use cannabis are more likely than others to experience episodes of depression. The brain of a person under 21 is still developing. Using hash or weed interferes with the fine tuning of the developing brain.However in the presence of sustained cannabis use a risk of an severe and enduring illness may emerge.
QUITTING V CUTTING DOWN
QUITTING might be better if - Trying to control my use won’t work. I have tried cutting down before & it didn’t work. I need to stop for health & relationships. My mental health has been affected. I want more control in my life. I am in trouble with the law or have financial problems
CUTTING DOWN might be ok if - I know I am not going to quit. Using will not interfere with my quality of life or well being. I have no history of mental health problems in my family or myself .My use does not interfere with work, education etc I can set limits and say no at times.
I would challenge the user to be authentic, become their real self, engage in the world not disengage.
For information and support on cannabis try the following resources:
www.drugs.ie HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline (free confidential support and information service)
1800 459 459 or firstname.lastname@example.org