Recovery Rises ISSUE 3 - Page 5

Angela’s Story.....

As a mum of 2 children 1 girl, 1 boy, who have both had problems with cannabis I am sharing my experience. One of the first signs I picked up on was mood swings, being in recovery myself i am familiar with the signs and symptoms of drug using behaviour, his dark eyes, ‘cant be bothered’ attitude combined with mood swings resulted in me confronting him one day and asking him outright "Are you smoking cannabis?" He admitted he was and that he was smoking “green’ I offered him help and he declined and continued. Over the months I saw a quick decline. He was in and out of prison, stealing to fund his habit yet always justified it as it wasn’t what he called ‘the hard drugs’ class A’s cocaine, heroin etc….

Personally I believe this should be classified as a Class A as the affects of it are devastating to the individuals, their families and the community.

OK what do we know?....

The problem or cannabis use amongst teenagers is getting ridicously out of control. More and more youths are finding themselves before the courts for drug related crimes. These offences are often committed in an effort to fund their cannabis use. A recent government report has revealed that a staggering 7 out of 10 teenage offenders have smoked cannabis everyday for at least twelve months. The Youth Justice Board said that for the 6500 individuals who pass through young offenders institutions every year 72% have used cannabis daily leading up to their arrest.

As long as this trend continues then the long term effects on our children falling into this lifestyle of cannabis use and crime are yet to be seen. After all there is evidence of a link between use of this drug and psychosis. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists some two million people in the uk smoke cannabis and half of all 16 to 29yr olds have tried it at least once. Long term use of it doubles the risk of developing a mental illness. At the very least it will cause some sort of anxiety or paranoia.

One of the most popular varieties of cannabis is known as ‘Skunk’ (green), referring to the pungent smell it gives off whilst growing. Skunk is very strong due to the high concentration of active substances in it. This is the drug that seems to be taking over the youth of today.

What we do about this problem is open to debate, the courts are starting to listen to what youth offending teams are suggesting as an alternative to just locking them up. The approach now being tried is to place those coming before the courts on to drug awareness/rehabilitation programmes.

This is obviously only available as a way of dealing with the more minor offences relating to their cannabis use. It is hoped that this helps them deal with their drug problems and also nip their offending in the bud before it leads to more serious offences.

Signs & Syptoms of Cannabis Use

1. Lack of motivation or ambition for activities that once excited the user.

2. In many cases, participation in sports, social groups, or other pursuits will wane or even cease entirely.

3. Performance in school or in the workplace will begin to decline.

4. Withdrawal from the family system

5. Drastic change in peer group.

6. An addict will often abandon peer groups in favour of those who share similar desires and behaviors, namely those engaging in drug use.

7. Personal hygiene may begin to suffer as he or she is less concerned with their public appearance.

8. Depressive style of mood. Marijuana addicts manifest many of the same characteristics as those suffering from depression.

9. An addict will have a flat affect and mood; he or she will appear lazy

10.Day-to-Day functioning will start to deteriorate on every major life level.

By Angela Fagan, Terry McCaig and Terry O' Driscoll