Marijuana blamed for rise in Africa’s mental illness

Posted on December 25, 2016 12:14 am

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in Africa, with one in three adults using it at some point in their life. It’s legal in some places around the United States, and offered medicinally in others. But what smoking pot does to users mental health is mind blowing.The marijuana have become a serious health and social problem that obstructs socio-economic development as well as a threat to national security. The current strategy on the reduction of drugs supply and demand for drugs has proven effective for drug control in some African countries. However, the success of efforts does not depend on those measure alone. The cooperation among the African community is a key element in ensuring a drug free society. Many African countries and local organisations are working to find the best solution to tackle marijuana menaces. In understanding the health consequences associated with marijuana, I sought views from a health expert working in Africa helping government agencies tackle the problem of drugs including marijuana. She revealed to me potential harms associated with using cannabis are depended on two things. One of them is the age at which an individual first begin to use cannabis, particularly as a teenager. Using cannabis during key stages of brain development can impact on synaptic pruning when old neural connections are deleted and the development of white matter which transmits signals in the brain.The other is the patterns of use which is the frequency, dose and duration, particularly if you’re using at least weekly. The bigger or more potent the dose, the more tetrahydrocannabinol you are ingesting.Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive component of cannabis and appears to act on areas of our brain involved in the regulation of a person emotional experiences.She added that studies of the relationship between cannabis use and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety have suffered from methodological issues by not controlling for related factors.

Some research have concluded that using cannabis placed an individual at moderate risk of developing depression.Unfortunately it was not within the scope of the research to determine if cannabis use was causing depression or if the relationship instead reflects the association between cannabis use and social problems. Cannabis use is associated with other factors that increase risk of depression such as school dropout and unemployment.The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety is also difficult to understand. Many people in Africa use cannabis for its euphoric and relaxing effects.However some people also experience feelings of anxiety or paranoia when intoxicated. As such, cannabis could be used to relieve anxiety or stress for some while causing others to feel anxious.Clearly, the relationship between cannabis use and depression and anxiety disorders is complex and involves the individual’s reasons for cannabis use and external situations. That is, cannabis may be used to help cope with social problems that were not necessarily caused by cannabis use.The connection between cannabis use and risk of developing symptoms of psychosis has been well established in many different studies. This research has found that early and frequent cannabis use is a component cause of psychosis but it is difficult to determine the exact role of cannabis use in causing psychosis.Studies show there is a strong resemblance between the acute and transient effects of cannabis use and symptoms of psychosis, including impaired memory, cognition and processing of external stimuli. This combines to make it hard for a person to learn and remember new things but can also extend to the experience of deluded thinking and hallucinations according to the health expert.

Marijuana is not something you often associate with the word addiction or consider it to be dangerous, but many people are hooked on the drug and it’s a problem experts say we need to take more seriously.Studies have also found adults who smoked marijuana were more likely than non-users to also abuse alcohol.Marijuana use is also linked to other addictions like nicotine. In 2015 studies, estimates from health experts showed about 92,000,000 Africans were smoking cannabis every week and about 80 per cent of people aged between 18 and 30 had at least tried it.Research by a cannabis prevention organisation in Africa found more than half of those smoking marijuana struggled to control their use, with many becoming dependent on the drug. More than 30,000,000 Africans are struggling with cannabis addiction everyday and according to the research, there is a widespread misconception that cannabis isn’t addictive and cases of marijuana use were more common than people realised.The survey reinforced the fact that heavy cannabis use and addiction are very real issues in Africa, and they currently don’t get the recognition they deserve in the community.Almost half of the people surveyed for the research admitted to smoking at least ten grams of marijuana each week. Almost half also believed cannabis wasn’t an addictive drug. Of course, the majority of experimental and occasional cannabis users in Africa don’t go on to become dependent, as is the case with alcohol. However the misconception cannabis is a harmless, non-addictive drug means many people who need help are not getting it.There’s no argument that addiction to marijuana impacts people physically and mentally. Those who rely on the drug are at higher risk of short-term memory impairment, mental health problems and respiratory disease. It can also lead to employment problems, financial stress and family conflict. Those addicted to cannabis find it very difficult to quit and when they try to stop using they get anxious and nervous and suffer from mood swings, cravings, sleep difficulties and a reduced appetite.

Contador Harrison