Twenty-Year Study Reveals Destructive Nature of Cannabis Use

A compelling twenty-year study has finally given us some answers regarding something we have known intuitively for generations: using pot is dangerous. The study, conducted by King’s College London professor Wayne Hall, definitively links sustained cannabis use with a whole host of problems, including mental illness and poor school performance. Hall is a professor of addiction policy at King’s College as well as a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation.

Cannabis Plant

Hall admits that cannabis is less dangerous than other drugs inasmuch as it is almost impossible to ingest a lethal dose. However, that notwithstanding, he said it is every bit as addictive as heroin or alcohol. Professor Hall also maintains that young people are now just as likely to use cannabis as they are to smoke.

Among the conclusions of Professor Hall’s research are the following:

• roughly 17% of regular, non-adult cannabis users develop an addiction
• regular users are twice as likely to suffer psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
• cannabis use reduces academic performance; it impairs intellectual development during adolescence
• 10% of adult cannabis users develop an addiction to it
• adult cannabis users are more likely to move on to harder drugs
• using cannabis prior to driving doubles the risk of being involved in a crash
• using cannabis during pregnancy reduces birth weight of the baby.

Thus far, Professor Hall has avoided getting involved in the decriminalisation debate championed by celebrities such as Russell Brand and Sir Richard Branson. Yet his recently released paper makes clear what the evidence shows: cannabis is not the harmless drug many people think it is.

VIDEO: Professor Wayne Hall — Cannabis and Health Symposium, New Zealand Drug Foundation.
The professor talks about cannabis and its dangers.

Withdrawal Symptoms Further Evidence

Part of the popularity of cannabis among young people is the belief that the drug can be used indiscriminately without fear of addiction. However, as Professor Hall’s research has concluded, the drug is indeed addictive. As evidence, one need only look at the withdrawal symptoms experienced by those coming off the drug:

• anxiety
• depression
• insomnia
• loss of appetite.

Even more compelling is the fact that Professor Hall discovered a relapse problem that is as acute as any relapse issues associated with harder drugs. Hall says that even with treatment, fewer than half of cannabis addicts can stay away from the drug for six months.

Study Reveals Different Attitudes about Alcohol and Cannabis“It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin,” he said, “We just don’t know how to do it.”

Abstinence The Best Policy

The most important point Professor Hall makes is that sustained cannabis use in young people can lead to very serious mental health issues later on. For that reason alone, abstinence remains the best policy where the popular drug is concerned. In a day and age when we are trying to focus on healthy living and community responsibility, it simply makes no sense to continue treating cannabis as a harmless substance. It is not.

We need to have a frank discussion about both cannabis and alcohol, and the harm done to society through their reckless use. Until we have that discussion, the decriminalisation argument is moot. Professor Hall’s study provides a good framework to get the discussion started.

Addiction Helper understands the dangers of using any drugs – including cannabis and alcohol. We are an independent organisation providing cannabis addiction evaluations, advice, and referral services to those struggling with drink and drugs. If you have a problem, please contact us through our 24-hour helpline. All of our services are free and confidential.

Sources:

1. Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2782906/The-terrible-truth-cannabis-British-expert-s-devastating-20-year-study-finally-demolishes-claims-smoking-pot-harmless.html

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