As we battle to reduce smoking in Scotland, tobacco is, of course, the main focus of our work.
But it’s not the only substance we have to consider, especially when it comes to younger people smoking.
There is a strong link between tobacco and cannabis use.
That’s why our expert training team have a bespoke course to give stop-smoking professionals the information they need to help them address their clients’ possible use of cannabis.
The one-day training takes a brief but insightful look into the world of cannabis use in conjunction with tobacco smoking and considers different approaches to help people make informed choices about changing health behaviours.
In Scotland, cannabis is mainly smoked after being mixed with tobacco, so there are similarities of habit that need to be acknowledged and can be addressed together.
Stop-smoking services need to be aware of the potential for cannabis use amongst their clients and should ensure that advisors feel comfortable raising the issue, are able to ask appropriate questions about any use and have access to up-to-date information and referral routes.
Research into the links between cannabis and existing tobacco smoking suggests cigarettes are sometimes used as a substitute when cannabis is not available, and as a way of conserving cannabis supplies.
Experts have also suggested that smoking cigarettes ‘equips’ some young people with the paraphernalia required to smoke cannabis and, as a result, cigarette smoking becomes an integral part of cannabis use.
It’s also been found that cannabis smoking weekly or more often during the teens and young adulthood is associated with an increased risk of taking up tobacco later on, leading to nicotine dependence.
Along with the well-known health dangers from tobacco, the cannabis carries its own potential risks.
The acute effects of the drug include panic and anxiety especially in individuals who have not previously used it.
Cannabis has been associated with mental health issues. Regular and heavy cannabis users have a higher risk of psychotic symptoms and disorders especially where an individual has a personal or family history of them. Regular cannabis use during adolescence may adversely affect mental health in young adults.
Regular cannabis smoking is also associated with increased risk of chronic bronchitis. Research has concluded that long-term cannabis use is associated with increased symptoms of obstructive lung disease including coughing, wheezing and airway inflammation.
More worryingly, experts also suggest that long-term cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
We suggest stop-smoking advisors should be on the lookout for signs that may indicate the use of cannabis among clients. An unusually high carbon monoxide breath test might prompt them to ask a smoker questions about other substances being used, clients’ opinions of cannabis use as a problem and any support wanted and needed.
Common states induced by the use of cannabis include:
• euphoria and relaxation
• time and perception distortion and intensified sensory experiences
• impairment of attention, concentration, short term memory, information processing, and reaction time
• greater emotional and physical sensitivity
• anxiety, panic, and paranoia
An advisor may wish to consider raising the issue of potential cannabis use in an appropriate way if a client shows these types of behaviour.
Our next tobacco with cannabis training course is on 11 September 2014 at Teacher Building, St Enoch Square, Glasgow. The cost for the course is £95 per person, free for NHS staff.
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