The Providence Project has been treating people, particularly young people, for problems relating to cannabis addiction for over seventeen years and during that time we have seen both an increase in the number of people seeking help, and the severity of the side-effects of the addiction. We do not feel that it is for us to get involved in any debates on the legalisation or re-classification of cannabis but we can only pass on our experience in the matter.
Skunk is a word used to describe, something in the region of, about one hundred varieties of cannabis which were originally created by cross-breeding plants. What these varieties have in common is that they have significantly higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient of cannabis, than other varieties. Putting it quite simpler it is a far stronger drug than the cannabis that was being smoked twenty years ago, sometimes as much as six times as strong.
The Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College in London has recently completed a study of 410 people who were admitted to hospitals in South London suffering from their first psychotic episode. Dr. Marti Di Forti who led the study, wrote “Daily use, especially of high potency cannabis, drives the earlier onset of psychosis in cannabis users.” A particularly disturbing feature of the report, which mirrors our experience here at the Providence Project, is the way the problem is even more pronounced among young users, and teenage users were particularly vulnerable.
A young man or woman who is a regular user of cannabis often displays symptoms which many parents put down to the pressures of growing up; lethargy, mood swings, depression and isolating are just some of the most common of these symptoms. It is often difficult for the parents to think that their child may be an addict and the child himself often needs to be treated in a different manner to people of a different age with a different addiction. At The Providence Project we identified the need for a different approach within our treatment programme several years ago and while we have seen this problem grow we have been able to successfully deal with many young people before their situation becomes untreatable. We have experienced counsellors available, just a phone call away, at all times to discuss any fears that you may have about your own, or your children’s cannabis use.