Cannabis (AKA hash, ganja, weed, marijuana, skunk, blow, spliff, wacky backy etc)
What is it?
Cannabis is an hallucinogenic drug, meaning that it can alter people's perceptions of reality. Cannabis can be smoked, eaten, taken as a drink or vapourised.
How is it legally classified?
Cannabis is a class C drug. This means that if charged with possession the sentence can be up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. Reforms in 2009 are likely to see the classification of cannabis to go from C to B.
Short term effects include experiencing paranoia, increased heart rate, sickness, lacking focus/concentration, anxiety and thirst. Longer term problems may include tiredness, memory deterioration, a potential increase in the risk of mental illness, psychosis, respiratory problems, reduced sperm count in men and suppressed ovulation in women. Taking cannabis during pregnancy can cause harm to both themselves and their unborn child.
Recognising cannabis addiction:
Cannabis users may show physical signs of addiction, including dilated pupils, a dry mouth, bloodshot eyes as well as food cravings and fatigue. Behaviour of addicts may include shying away from social interaction, becoming withdrawn and isolating themselves from others. In terms of psychiatric signs of addiction, individuals may appear depressed, suffer from mood swings, act in an anxious or paranoid manner or experience delusions.
What you can do:
If somebody you know has admitted to cannabis addiction, or you believe that they are an addict, the initial step is to talk to them. The individual themselves may not actually be aware of how reliant they have become on the substance. Offer the person your support and encourage them to seek professional help. Reassure them that you are there for them and ensure you do not behave in a non-confrontational way, as this may push the individual further into addiction. If you are recognising signs of addiction in yourself and want to seek help, contact an advice line such as Frank (0800 77 66 00), visit your GP or alternatively search here
for your nearest counselling/support centre.