A-Z

Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

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.
 

Kasim says that smoking weed is as much part of his daily routine as brushing his teeth.

Kasim says that smoking weed is as much part of his daily routine as brushing his teeth.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Kassim' Yeah it’s just like a necessity at the end of the day and just like brushing your teeth. Like that’s how it is to me. Like I smoke like near enough every day and I’ve spent so much money on it, like so much money on it. But basically it’s just like you’re just watching your money go up in smoke. And I know it’s easily said and done but I think I could stop smoking if I really wanted to but I don’t think I want to. Like I don’t think it’s that much of a problem for me to stop even though, yeah I do smoke every day but I am still. I think it’s different really, I think if you’re out of work and you, you’re not studying and...
 
Karis' It’s easy just to go out, do you know.
 
Kassim' It’s easy just to crawl back into your hole.
 
Karis' Yeah and just smoke.
 
Kassim' And just smoke your life away. But I think if you’ve got a job and if you’ve got a job and you’re studying and you’re like you’re on the straight and narrow and just smoking weed I think it’s fine, do you know what I mean? I think it’s fine, do you know what I mean, but I think if you’re like unemployed and you’re a bum and stuff and you’re smoking weed it’s only going to make you more depressed.
 
Karis' Yeah
 
Kassim' And I’ve been there and done that and it’s not nice. It’s not nice at all but yeah. 
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.
 

Craig decided to quit smoking cannabis everyday because it was costing too much.

Craig decided to quit smoking cannabis everyday because it was costing too much.

Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean it did get quite bad so I would always have stuff on me. Usually, you know, I dabbled in the heavier type of stuff but there was always cannabis like on me.
 
Normally I would like kind of rolled so I’d have one maybe waiting for the bus or, you know, that kind of thing. It became like a cigarette to me. When I realised how much I was spending on it I kind of realised I needed to stop.
 
And how often are you doing cannabis now?
 
As I said I haven’t done it for a week and a half. Previous to that it was maybe one or two a day if that.
 
Before it was one, two a day?
 
One, two a day, a couple of days I’d go without, no biggie. I mean I can go, I can go without now. I mean I could give up. I don’t know how long for, to be perfectly honest, as long as I’ve got kind of cigarettes I should be alright.
 
I mean I know that’s not healthy either but it’s slightly healthier than cannabis and it’s legal so that’s good. That’s always a better thing. 
 

Karis and Kasim used to spend £10 a day on weed. They can’t afford to now that they have food shopping, rent and bills to pay.

Karis and Kasim used to spend £10 a day on weed. They can’t afford to now that they have food shopping, rent and bills to pay.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Kasim' That’s why we’re saying that we understand that it’s like really. It’s quite expensive yeah, I suppose it is.
 
Karis' It is expensive. It is definitely because now I mean..
 
Kasim' If you think about it like a draw like £10 ok like £10 every day.
 
Karis' £10 a day that’s £50 a week.
Kasim' That’s like, yeah. Out of the, I get a draw 6 days out of 7 yeah so I spend £60 a week on weed.
 
So now you are appreciating kind of the expense?
 
Karis' The value of, yeah, yeah definitely because now I mean, you know, we both, we both live by ourselves and, you know rent has to be paid [laugh] sort of thing.
 
Kasim' Rent, gas, electricity
 
Karis' And if I don’t have the money I really don’t have the money. That’s it. I will go without now. Do you know what I mean, whereas obviously before we wasn’t, we wasn’t working or nothing so we’d just take advantage of our parents’ money sort of thing. Do you know what I mean and we knew that we could get it sort of thing so we’d just take advantage of that but now it is completely different.
 
Kasim' But now it’s like we wouldn’t like say scrimp and save for a draw.
 
Karis' For a draw no, no, no, no.
 
Kasim' At the end of the day we’d get our food shopping done out the way and then if there were bills.
 
Karis' If there was money left over, you know,
 
Kasim' If there’s money left then why not treat yourself to a little draw or something, you know, like
 
Karis' On a drink or something like that
 
Kasim' But I wouldn’t like say go shopping and be a bit like, like I wouldn’t
 
Karis' Hold back on the things that you need sort of thing yeah.
 
Kasim' Hold back on the things that I need for weed. I couldn’t do that.
 
Karis' No no.
 
You wouldn’t do that?
 
Kasim' I’ve never really understood why I used to do that when I was younger but yeah.
 
But it’s something that you do every day still? I mean smoking?
 
Kasim' Yeah I smoke weed every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I buy it every day. As I say like obviously I have friends.
 
Karis' It’s around yeah.
 

Kasim' It’s around but I have friends like near enough every one of my friends smoke weed so like do you know what I mean if I haven’t got it they have sort of thing. You know, you just like share a spliff or whatever. But yeah it’s like around. 

 

When he started using heroin, Jim stopped smoking cannabis because he couldn’t afford both.

When he started using heroin, Jim stopped smoking cannabis because he couldn’t afford both.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I was smoking it all day, every day at that point just when I left school. I smoked it like a lot of people smoke cigarettes so I was getting through 20/30 quids worth a week easily.
 
Smoking every day
 
Yeah
 
More than once a day?
 
Yeah, all the time.
 
Then like I say I left school. During the summer I was still smoking more and more cannabis and then towards the end of the summer I got introduced to heroin then. That was through one of my, one of my friend’s from school her boyfriend was using it. He was already an addict for quite some years and he was using it and he introduced our circle of friends to it. I turned it down at first but within a month or so I tried it and liked it and I kept taking it basically. We were just having it at weekends then for about 6 months or so. And then we stopped taking it for a while then started taking it again and I very quickly became addicted to it.
 
And this was when you were 16?
 
I was about 16, 17 years old then yeah.
 
So what about the cannabis? Did you stop using cannabis?
 
I stopped using cannabis when I started using heroin. It was very overlapping for a few months but as I got more and more into heroin I couldn’t afford to buy cannabis. So that kind of dropped out if you see what I mean. I’ve had a few spliffs since then but it’s not been much. 
Lack of energy and motivation 
Tiredness, lack of energy and low motivation were often associated with heavy use of cannabis.
 

Sam thinks lack of motivation is one of his biggest problems but he’s lucky to have a job he enjoys (played by an actor).

Sam thinks lack of motivation is one of his biggest problems but he’s lucky to have a job he enjoys (played by an actor).

Age at interview: 28
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So if I’d actually had the motivation because motivation is one of my biggest problems and the only way that I’ve got motivated now is having something I like, and doing something I like. So we’re like that and that really scares me because the current situation in the country is that opportunities are going. They’re taking away opportunities for jobs. They are taking away opportunities for activities and these young people are smoking weed and they are doing things, you know. And their motivation is going to be down to a minimum. So they are going to start thinking about doing things, you know get a bit of money out, be like that. And it scares the life out of me because the potential for young people getting themselves into states. But it’s not that I’m. I know some people have it a lot worse and that. I didn’t have it. I’m alright I haven’t got a lot of money that but I’ve got somewhere to live and I’ve got stuff and I’ve got by, you know. I’m still alive. I had two friend die on the way to get here, bless them. One was heavily drug related, he killed himself actually. He was getting. Actually I don’t really want to talk about that one.

 

Karis and Kasim think that cannabis has made them less motivated.

Karis and Kasim think that cannabis has made them less motivated.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Karis' And you’re not going to because obviously it’s a. Weed is a depressant so you know it kills off your, any motivations. You know what I mean. You don’t want to get up.
 
Kasim' And I feel that because I’ve been smoking weed for so long I do feel less motivated as well. I think that’s one of the side effects of it as well. You get more like less motivated to do things. Like see in the morning I can’t just get up and go like I used to like when I was younger before I started smoking weed and stuff it was just like [snap fingers] up out the house, go shopping or whatever.
 
Karis' You know what you’ve got to do you get up, yeah go down
 
Kasim' But now it’s like, not like I have to smoke a spliff to function but in a way I do. Like I’ll get up in the morning and I’ll feel like more like grumpy and stuff and it will take me a while. Like I’ll be in that morning place for a while and then like I’ll smoke my spliff and like [laugh] I mean.
 
Karis' You feel better.
 
Kasim' Like I feel better, I feel like I can do more like sort of thing. Because I think because our bodies are so immune to it I feel that like yeah without it you’ll be a bit more grumpy and stuff, you know.
 
I' Ok. And you?
 
Karis' Yeah I agree with [Kasim], I agree really like yeah. I mean the motivation thing for me like that is probably one of the biggest symptoms of smoking weed for me. Like, do you know what I mean, it is hard to get up in the morning and actually I mean sometimes do what you have to do and stuff like that. But then again because we’ve had so much, so many years experience with it we know like what, how it’s affecting us. Do you know what I mean. So I think we can deal with it more quickly. Do you know what I mean? 
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.
 

Hugh said that some of his friends who smoked a lot of cannabis could have done better in school.

Hugh said that some of his friends who smoked a lot of cannabis could have done better in school.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Some people you can just tell behave very differently after a lot of, lots of smoking cannabis but then like consequential kind of things. I mean just quite simply my friends who smoked cannabis from a young age and continued to do so kind of under-achieved I’d say.
 
Under achievers?
 
Yeah definitely.
 
So it has affected their education?
 
Yeah definitely. I think I might, I don’t know that it actually has... It’s hard to say I mean because my friends who are really clever and still smoked a lot with, have still done amazingly but that’s because I think they could kind of knuckle down when it came to it. But I think there’s definitely a correlation between smoking weed from a young age and kind of how seriously you take your schooling, I think probably. 
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.
donate
Previous Page
Next Page