Problem Cannabis use

What is problem drug use? Can there really be such a thing as problem drug use with regards to cannabis? In my opinion, yes. Every drug, no matter how safe has the potential for problematic drug use.

When initially thinking of this topic, I was very hesitant in agreeing with the statement. Maybe because I did not truly understand what problematic drug use is. But with a little more thought, I decided that yes, of course there is such a thing as problematic cannabis use.

Problem cannabis use can be defined in two ways. The first is about the individual; if the person becomes dependant on a substance and has the feeling they cannot live without the substance. There is a very fine line between being able to control a substance and being dependant on a substance.

The second form of problem drug use is when a person’s use of a substance creates harm and has a negative impact on those around you and wider society. Note that when I say those around you, I mean friends, family or loved ones.

So what does this mean in relation to cannabis? Are there specific guidelines we can follow to prevent problematic use? The answer is no. Some people are able to smoke from dusk till dawn, and still be a positive progressive individual. For others, constant smoking may make you feel lazy and speaking from personal experience, a sense of being brain dead.

I was first introduced to cannabis at the age of 14. I did not smoke my first spliff until I was 16 going on 17. At this time the drug intrigued me, but I did not allow myself to indulge in it too much, I loved the feeling it gave me, but I was young, had very little money, and therefore spent very little time with the drug. At the age of 18 I was re-introduced to cannabis. I smoked maybe once or twice every month or two. At the time I felt that the substance helped me get over a great amount of depression, it allowed me to focus on myself and think without the anger that swelled inside my gut.

Later at university I took this drug use to a whole new level. I had met incredible amounts of people that had the same mind-set as I; cannabis is good, it has no negative effects, everything is perfect. I started with going to all my lectures and seminars and only smoking in the evenings once all my work for the day was complete. Later I broke this rule, and I did so more and more often. My drug use was becoming too much for me to handle; I felt dependant on it ran away from my issues. Anything that went wrong in my life, any stress that I was facing, my initial answer to every single problem would be… “I need a spliff”.

I spent an entire year with this thought process, and a part of my second year too. Where once a substance had benefited me; it had now taken over my life. In my second year of university, something inside of me sparked and I sat myself down, spliff in hand, and said that enough was enough, I cannot smoke like I did in my first year; it was causing harm to myself, my work and alienating me from my loved ones. It took a very long time for me to understand this, but eventually I decided to test myself by not smoking at all for two months simply to see if I could do so. Although I had moments of madness, I did so with only breaking the rule twice within the first three weeks

To my relief, this was the best decision I had ever made. It allowed me to understand when cannabis is useful in my life and when it was abuse. I was able to see that I, personally, could not benefit from daily smoking, that I could only benefit from the substance if I controlled it militantly. I have found that through controlling my use, when I do smoke, it is a much more pleasurable experience and I feel much more guilt free.

The answer therefore, is to ask the question; is my cannabis use preventing me from moving forward in my life? Am I able to progress with my work and inner growth, or is it having a negative impact, preventing me from progressing in my life?

If the answer is yes, it is having a negative impact on my life and those around me, then that would come under problem cannabis use. This is not an issue that wider society can help prevent; instead it is something that the individual must be aware of and be true to themselves when giving an answer.

This is not meant to give the impression of promoting drug use, but simply to try and understand when too much is too much and to understand that this varies from person to person.