Rethinking your cannabis use

Are you at the point where you’re starting to rethink your cannabis use?

Cannabis (also called pot, marijuana, weed, dope, grass, dak, hash, smoke, buds, skunk, cabbage, ganja, reefer) is the most commonly used illegal drug in New Zealand. It’s widely available, and is used both for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Cannabis may have a reputation of being ‘safe’, but it’s important to remember that even casual cannabis use can still impact your health.

If you’ve been thinking about cutting down or stopping your use of cannabis, the NZ Drug Foundation has some useful advice on how to approach this.

When to make changes

If the amount or frequency you are using cannabis increases (e.g. once a month becomes once a week), make changes by reducing or stopping, even if just temporarily. This will let your brain recover from a growing tolerance, allowing it to return to normal.

Not changing your use at this point is to ignore a clear sign of bigger problems down the track. This is why it can be helpful to write down how much you use so you can quickly identify when it starts increasing.

Make changes if:

  • the amount or frequency of cannabis used noticeably increases
  • you are experiencing low-mood or anxiety

When to ask for support

Ask a trusted friend or whānau member for support making changes if

  • cannabis use and comedowns are affecting relationships, study or work
  • the unpleasant effects are outweighing the pleasant effects
  • feeling angry when not using cannabis
  • spending more time and money on cannabis than you want
  • always thinking about cannabis
  • using more to get the same effect or to feel normal
  • experiencing irritability, sleeplessness, and cravings
  • others are concerned about your cannabis use

You can read more about knowing when to ask for help here.

When to speak to a health professional

Speak to the Alcohol Drug Helpline, counsellor, GP or health professional if

  • finding it hard to reduce or stop using cannabis
  • experiencing poor health as a result of your cannabis use
  • missing school, work or family commitments
  • depressed or having suicidal thoughts.

You can get in touch with the Alcohol Drug Helpline by calling 0800 787 797, or texting 8681, to speak with a trained counsellor – they’ll be able to provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential.

You can also chat to the Alcohol Drug Helpline team online through the website, or:

  • Call the Māori Line on 0800 787 798 for advice and referral to kaupapa Māori services.
  • Call the Pasifika Line on 0800 787 799 for advice and referral to services developed for Pacific people.
  • Call the Youth Line on 0800 787 984 for advice and referral to services for young people.

This article originally appeared on the NZ Drug Foundation website.