Cannabis use is popular with students. In this blog, we discuss the benefits and risks associated and how to support yourself.
WHAT IS CANNABIS?
Well, it’s a very popular illegal drug (at least in the UK) that can affect your mental health.
I can’t think of anything more polyonymous than cannabis. Polyonymous means being known by several names. Cannabis is also known as weed, wacky backy, spliff, mary jane, and dope. Some call it a blunt or bhang. Many call it green, bush, grass. Some refer to it as bud, a draw, ganja, or hash. Oh, there’s more, many call it the herb, marijuana, pot, puff, resin, sensimilla, smoke, zero……. well, the list is endless, and I could go on.
Whatever name you call it, cannabis is the most used drug by students in the world. In a recent survey, 44% of university students in the UK admitted to using cannabis with a similar report by NUS reporting that 1 in 10 had taken drugs. Cannabis-related hospitalizations of young adults rose by 54% the University of York research found. Therefore, it’s fair to say that drugs are not uncommon at universities. Dealers know there is a market for weed among university students which makes them an attraction.
Several students suffer from anxiety and take cannabis for its relaxing effects.
Anxiety on top of meeting several deadlines can be draining to the point of not being able to do anything. So, they use cannabis to give them a push to get them going.
SO HOW DOES CANNABIS WORK?
When you smoke cannabis, it goes and enters your bloodstream where it is then transported to your brain and attached to your receptors. It then will start to affect your mood and behavior.
While it is true that there is some medical value in marijuana, cannabis is often taken by students for recreational purposes. They use marijuana because it makes them happy, provides entertainment, helps them relax, etc.
And you know what? It can do all those good things. But at the same time, marijuana can be dangerous and addictive. It’s not for everybody.
BUT WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CANNABIS AS REPORTED BY STUDENTS?
- It calms me down
- For escapism
- Pain relief
- It makes me euphoric and happy, I forget my problems
- Peer pressure
- The belief that it’s harmless
- Relief from symptoms/ self-medication for anxiety, depression, stress, mood disorders, sleep difficulties
- To improve appetite
- To slow down appetite
- To help with self-confidence/ esteem
- To feel good and have fun
- To improve concentration
- To ease boredom
- To help with loneliness
- To top up with other drugs to increase or decrease the effects
- To alleviate tension from frustrations
- To seek deeper insights –helps me focus and think deeper
1. HELPS IN CONCENTRATION
Many with trouble concentrating in class might try smoking cannabis. Students report It helps them focus better and concentrate better. It can also help them relax and relieve stress.
2. OVERCOMES ANXIETY
People suffering from anxiety disorders can use marijuana to relieve their symptoms. It can be taken via different methods. For example, you can smoke it, vaporize it, or eat it. Some people like to inhale it. Others prefer to drink it. The main thing is to find the method that works best for you.
3. RELIEVES PAIN
Marijuana is an effective painkiller. It was used as medicine in ancient China and Egypt. Many doctors and scientists believe that marijuana is an effective pain reliever.
One of the most common uses for medical marijuana is pain relief. Some people use medical marijuana to relieve pain from arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions.
4. PEER PRESSURE
Forming new friends, trying to fit in, an effort to belong, a way to socialize. Although they don’t physically force anyone to smoke it, just the fact that it’s normalized within their social groups makes them more likely to use it.
5. THEY BELIEVE CANNABIS IS HARMLESS
Because many students know of others who have been using it for a long time and no harm has happened to them to their knowledge
ASSOCIATED RISKS WITH CANNABIS
- Cannabis can make you feel paranoid and suspicious of people you know and don’t know.
- Difficulty learning and retaining information
- It can negatively affect your mood and behavior (risky behaviors – driving under the influence
- Risky sexual behavior (leading to sexually transmitted disease)
- (can cause cancer in many body parts)
- It’s expensive
- Mental illness
- It’s expensive
If you are using weed, you might get addicted to it. It can lead to other problems such as depression and anxiety. If you want to quit using weed, you need to find a way to do it. You should talk to your doctor or a counselor about your problem.
SMOKING-RELATED HEALTH RISKS
Several conditions are linked to smoking; damage to the lungs can cause COPD, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Limits blood supply to the male sexual organ causing impotence.
70% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking
Smoking is also linked to other types of cancers – throat, mouth, larynx, oesophagus, etc
Smoking is linked to stroke and heart disease. It restricts circulation by narrowing the blood vessels and damaging the heart.
To learn more about its effects read:
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Weed can cause mental health issues. For example, if you smoke weed every day, you may experience paranoia. In addition, you may develop a dependence on weed and feel that you can’t live without weed. A lot of research has reported a link between cannabis and psychosis or schizophrenia. Regular use of cannabis can result in cannabis-induced psychosis.
To read more about Cannabis and Mental Health read this article: https://mft.nhs.uk/app/uploads/2021/01/Cannabis-and-mental-health.pdf
SELF HELP TIPS FOR STUDENTS
1. FIND OTHER HOBBIES
Students think that they don’t have time to do anything else. But that’s not true. They can find other hobbies to do while they are studying.
For example, you can watch movies or play video games. Or you can go out with friends to have fun. There are so many different things that you can do to have fun while you study.
2. AVOID DRUGS
You can’t blame drugs for your problems. Drugs are bad, and they can ruin your life. You should avoid them because they can cause addiction. You will have a hard time overcoming it.
3. PRACTICE YOGA
Yoga is a form of exercise that is good for your body and mind. It can help you to concentrate and focus on your studies. It is a great way to increase your energy level and get rid of stress. You can also meditate during yoga.
Hence, there are many ways for university students to help them focus on their studies and achieve well in life. Weed is not the only hope. Try something better so one cannot have any regrets later.
4. MAKE NEW FRIENDS WHO DO NOT USE
Many students smoke because that’s what they do socially together. So, the chances are that you will find it harder to stop if you continue hanging around the same circle of friends. Making new friends who don’t use cannabis may help you.
5. IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS AND FACTORS THAT KEEP THE PROBLEM GOING
Some of these could be trying to fit in, loneliness, boredom, stress, low mood, etc…
After identifying these factors, you can then look at each and try to make changes to each
6. UNDERSTAND THE TRIGGERS
What times do I usually smoke? What places? Around what people? What feelings am I experiencing before using? Understanding these will help you identify patterns so you can do something about them.
7. DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
Look for support and help from others. Partners, friends, family, and professionals are more likely to support you once they see you are committed to change. Usually, for those closest to you, it may take to time for them to believe that this time you are serious.
8. WRITE DOWN THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING CANNABIS
This will help you compare and decide which is better. It will act as your motivation. It will keep reminding you why are quitting.
9. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
Your goal could be to reduce use from 5 joints a week to 2 joints weekly, or it could be quitting. Jot down what you would like to achieve. You may involve a partner or someone close to support you during difficult days and remind you.
10. PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Regularly tell yourself “I can do this” and “I have the power to do it”. Jot down affirmations that work for you even if initially you may not believe them just keep saying them to yourself. Repetition is a powerful method that persuades the mind. The more you affirm to yourself the more likely your mind will believe it and the power to do it is triggered from within.
It is important to know the motivation for using cannabis because some motives can predict whether the student will be likely to use less cannabis or stop using. For example, if a student’s motivation for using cannabis is for experimentation or boredom, they are more likely to stop than those who use it for self-medication, escapism, or to cope. Students who use it to cope with symptoms of another condition or self-medication are more likely to not only continue using but even increase the amount.
BEWARE More importantly, if you have been smoking regularly and are thinking about stopping using cannabis or cutting down suddenly, please seek professional advice first. Just suddenly stopping is dangerous and can be life-threatening. It can also lead to psychosis, seizures, or several other withdrawal symptoms.
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