Cannabis is the most popular drug in Ireland and a bigger threat to mental health than you may think

Cannabis & Your Mental Health

It is warned that ‘free’ psychiatric services might be “overrun” due to a surge in young people requiring urgent treatment for medical issues linked to smoking cannabis.

In Ireland, it’s recently been discussed that cannabis is posing a grave threat to the health of many young adults within the country.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland has warned that an estimated 45,000 15-34 years olds all now meet the criteria for cannabis dependence.

This means that a surge of young individuals may require immediate and urgent addiction treatment in the very near future.

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Cannabis stats for Ireland

Aged 15 – 18             1.5% smoking cannabis daily (5 times as likely to be male)

Young adult              3.7% smoking cannabis daily

Over 65s                    0.1% smoking cannabis daily

Recommended Cannabis Addiction Treatment Programme.

Why cannabis has become more dangerous than ever

An alarming amount of increasingly potent strains of cannabis have emerged across Ireland.

However, amongst the general public, there is a worrying and wide misconception that the drug is generally harmless – but the College of Psychiatrists are warning that this is having “devastating effects.”

The college is now calling urgently on the Government to conduct an immediate review of cannabis use and its related harms.

The potency of cannabis and its effects on people’s mental health is often ignored as many people wrongly think that cannabis is harmless.

In the meantime, the college has also begun its own campaign to educate users and the general public.

Their concern is that psychiatric services are likely to be overrun with a surge of young adults needing treatment for mental health problems connected to cannabis use.

877 admissions to medical hospitals in Ireland in 2019

These admissions were all due to cannabis-related diagnoses, which is four times higher than the figure recorded in 2005.  See Cannabis and mental health – for young people.

More worrying, figures such as those which say 1 in 3 young people who smoke cannabis weekly are likely to become addicted, show there’s a great threat of mental health being negatively affected.

When you consider exactly how potent the drug has become over the last few years, it is clear to medical professionals that a perfect storm has been brewing for some time and threatens to overwhelm HSE services.

See How people are impacted by dependence on marijuana.

The scary reality of cannabis addiction

It is felt that the earlier you start using, the greater the potential risk.

And while this is true, as addiction experts we have also seen how quickly the drug can impact older young adults, who try the drug for the first time in their 20s.

Patients we have treated who are addicted to cannabis often don’t believe their drug use is in fact an addiction. They often notice how bad their mental health has become but blame it on other reasons in their life rather than let “weed” take any of the blame.

This denial, of course, keeps them smoking, keeps them using and keeps them sick. Cannabis – far from helping – becomes the problem.

But depression does not disappear on its own and the longer you allow yourself to sink in deeper to it without the intervention of professional psychological help, the lower you feel.  We can help.

 You won’t get this time back – don’t lose it to cannabis misuse.

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Mental health issues

Psychosis, anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal behaviour are the biggest mental health conditions associated with cannabis use. Many of these are exacerbated by the frightening, rising levels of THC (the psychoactive part of the drug).

Psychosis describes the periods where people lose some contact with reality, such as hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) as well as believing incorrect information (delusional).

Unknown to some, this a real reality for many long-term cannabis users.

If you smoke cannabis regularly, you will likely experience higher levels of anxiety and depression daily.

You might feel that depression and anxiety are easy for you to manage daily on your own because your big flare-up episodes only come now and again. But recognise that you have these episodes, and know that they are likely to only grow more and more frequent with your continued use and denial of the problem at hand.

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More on Cannabis

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