THE TOP 3 DRUGS/ CANNABIS
source:UN, The World Youth Report 2003,
Cannabis (including marijuana, hash, hash oil) is the illicit substance most used by youth worldwide…
Lifetime use of cannabis among 15-16-year-old students (1999)
- cannabis use represents about 90% of all illicit drug use among students in the US and Australia and almost 95% in Europe: in the highest using countries (Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, UK and the US), cannabis use is quite common, with more than 25% of all high school students reporting use in the past year. In Europe past year rates for 15-16 years old students range from 1% in Romania to 35% in France;
- in sub-Saharan Africa cannabis is considered the main illicit drug of concern, with increasing use by young people being cited in several countries;
- in Asia, there are few studies, but 2 showed lifetime prevalence of 4.5% and 6% among youth populations;
- the average age for starting to use cannabis in Western countries seems to be around 14-15 years of age. It appears that the average age of first use in developing countries may be a bit older, but it's hard to tell because there's not much information;
- according to the UNODC 2004 World Drug Report, the proportion of school children and young adults who have used cannabis at least once in their lives is as high as 37% in some countries, while the proportion for past-month use can be as high as 10-25%. Overall, cannabis abuse is increasing in many countries while stabilising in countries where it has already reached high levels.
- according to another survey*, in the United States the number of youth (12-17 aged) using marijuana daily or almost daily decreased from 20.6% in 2002 to 19.6% in 2003.
| country/region ||%|
|Europe - high (France)||35|
| Europe - low (Romania)||1|
What are the effects?
The effects of cannabis range from getting pleasantly stoned to getting unpleasantly fearful and paranoid. One user's medicine is another's poison. Less appealing side effects include hallucinations, anxiety and depression. Both good and bad side effects are attributable to a major mind altering drug called delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is a psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. THC mimics the actions of the brain's receptors so interfering with the brain's ability to function normally.
Users can become disorientated and start to hallucinate and they may become angry, depressed or anxious after the initial feeling of well being wears off. Nausea and vomiting can occur when an inexperienced user has taken too much cannabis, especially when combined with alcohol. This is commonly known as ‘white’ or ‘spinout.’ Users can also experience short term memory loss and reduced coordination due to the temporary confusion of parts of the brain which control these particular functions. The short term effects of cannabis generally last for up to 4 hours, depending on the amount used, and the body resumes normal service after that.
As for the long term effects, there's no conclusive medical evidence to suggest that cannabis causes permanent damage. But there's a risk of dependence on the drug after long term use and this can make it difficult or well-nigh impossible for the addict to function ‘normally’ without it.
* Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Results from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H–25, DHHS Publication No. SMA 04–3964). Rockville, MD.