Australia needs to take marijuana addiction more seriously, experts say

June 15, 2016

cannabis addictionMarijuana is not something that is often associate with the word “addiction” or considered to be dangerous, but many people are hooked on the drug and it’s a problem experts say we need to take more seriously.

A National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders found adults who smoked marijuana were more likely than non-users to also abuse alcohol.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use is also linked to other addictions like nicotine.

In 2010 National Cannabis Prevention Information Centre director, Professor Jan Copeland, said about 750,000 Australians were smoking cannabis every week and about 70 per cent of people aged between 20 and 29 had at least tried it.

Research by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre found more than half of those smoking marijuana struggled to control their use, with many becoming dependent on the drug.

More than 200,000 Australians are struggling with cannabis addiction everyday and according to the research, there is a widespread misconception that cannabis isn’t addictive.

Professor Copeland, said stories like Mr Hameister’s were more common than people realised.

“Our survey reinforced the fact that heavy cannabis use and addiction are very real issues in Australia, and they currently don’t get the recognition they deserve in the community,” she said.

Almost half of the people surveyed for the research admitted to smoking at least five grams of marijuana each week.

Almost half also believed cannabis wasn’t an addictive drug.

“Of course, the majority of experimental and occasional cannabis users don’t go on to become dependent, just as we see with alcohol. But the misconception cannabis is a harmless, non-addictive drug means many people who need help are not getting it,” Prof Copeland said.

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre said addiction to marijuana impacted people physically and mentally.

Those who rely on the drug are at higher risk of short-term memory impairment, mental health problems and respiratory disease.

It can also lead to employment problems, financial stress and family conflict.

Those addicted to cannabis find it very difficult to quit and when they try to stop using they get anxious and nervous and suffer from mood swings, cravings, sleep difficulties and a reduced appetite. To read more click here.

Professor Jan Copeland – Director, National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, attended the 2016 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference on the Gold Coast in May as a Keynote Speaker to discuss the link between the use of cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety.

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