Drugs and Alcohol

Problems with cannabis use

It has been suggested that using cannabis heavily may create a number of problems. Young people we talked to who had used it listed the following as problems they connected with cannabis:

  • Becoming dependent and feeling a need to have cannabis all the time
  • Cost, in terms of money spent regularly on cannabis
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Poor performance at school and in exams
  • Problems with parents, friendships and relationships
  • Emotional effects such as depression and paranoia (see ‘Drugs and Mental Health’ for more details)
Becoming dependent on cannabis
Some young people felt a constant urge to use cannabis and realised that they had become dependent on it. It is common to mix cannabis with tobacco when making a spliff (or ‘joint’) and some people thought that they’d become more dependent on the tobacco than the cannabis.
Raphael smokes cannabis regularly and says it makes him feel more lethargic but he doesn’t have any plans to stop. Craig says that he would like to stop but doesn’t think he will be able to. After using cannabis for a while people usually find that they need to smoke more to get the same effect. Kasim said that he ‘needs’ to smoke a spliff in the morning ‘in order to function’ but that he cannot afford to buy cannabis regularly now that he is unemployed.
The cost of cannabis
One common problem associated with heavy cannabis use was the amount of money it costs. The young people we spoke to didn’t have a lot of money so couldn’t easily afford to smoke weed every day. Chloe stole money from her mum and others in her school in order to pay for her cannabis use.
Lack of energy and motivation 
Tiredness, lack of energy and low motivation were often associated with heavy use of cannabis.
Cannabis and problems at school 
Young people who used cannabis heavily noticed that it can cause problems with school work. Hugh said that he thought that many of his friends who smoked a lot of cannabis underachieved, although some friends who were really clever did amazingly well despite smoking a lot because they seemed to know when to knuckle down.
Relationships with family, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends
Peter‘s long-term girlfriend blamed his use of cannabis for their relationship problems but Peter said that the problems were still there when he stopped smoking. Stephanie had started to use a lot of cannabis with friends and noticed some short-term memory loss. She stopped using after her mother became worried and drew attention to the fact that she seemed withdrawn. See also Relationships, drugs and alcohol.

Last reviewed July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


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