Pot is one of the more common terms for cannabis in New Zealand. Other slang terms for cannabis include grass, weed, mull, chronic, dak, hash, smoke, buds, skunk, cabbage, ganja, dope, and reefer. Cannabis is the most commonly-used drug in New Zealand – 14 percent of people use it regularly. After alcohol, cannabis is the drug that New Zealanders most often ask for help with.
If using pot saps you of motivation, makes you forgetful, becomes necessary in order to sleep, and prevents you eating properly and looking after yourself, you might end up feeling bad.
Pot is not, in itself, life-threatening. You will not die from a pot overdose – although long-term use presents real and significant threats to your mental and physical health.
Smoking pot can cause irreparable damage to your lungs, exacerbate mental illnesses such as depression and has been known to trigger psychosis in young people who use drugs.
More commonly, as you will have realised, smoking pot can make your thoughts foggy, it can put strain on treasured and important relationships and steal family time, it can sap your motivation and it can create a worrying dependency when it comes to sleep.
The body gets used to the effects of cannabis over time, so you might get to the point where you feel you need to have a smoke just to feel okay. And without cannabis in your system you might feel restless or anxious, have problems sleeping, experience stomach pain, or have strong cravings for a smoke. You might feel stressed or hyped, or lose your appetite.
However, these short-term withdrawal symptoms – often called the three-day hump because the first three days are the hardest - have to be lined up against the problematic impacts of cannabis use. These include low motivation, paranoia, short-term memory loss, reddened eyes and a dry mouth, increased risk of disease of the airways, decreased concentration, memory and learning ability, and symptoms of dependence. It can interfere with the most important parts of your life, including relationships and work.
These are some of the reasons why some users want to quit.
Pot can be physically and psychologically addictive. Someone is said to be dependent on cannabis when they experience three or more of the following criteria over a year:
Be honest with yourself when you think about what impact pot has had on your life. How are your finances? How is your motivation? What are your relationships with family, friends and community like? Have people told you your personality has changed?
Sometimes when you are in the thick of pot use, it’s hard to see how much your life has changed. Take a step back and try looking at it through the eyes of someone else.
If you are using cannabis and you are concerned about the impact it is having on your life, pick up the phone and call a drug and alcohol counsellor or the Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.
Or start our online treatment programme.
If you want more in-depth information about cannabis visit the Drug Foundation's website.