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Addiction. 1998 Jun;93(6):837-46.

Long-term cannabis use: characteristics of users in an Australian rural area.

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  • 1Northern Rivers Health Service, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

AIM:

To investigate the characteristics and patterns of cannabis and other drug use among long-term cannabis users in an Australian rural area.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey of a "snowball" sample of long-term cannabis users.

SETTING:

The North Coast of New South Wales is an area with high levels of cannabis cultivation and use, and many long-term users.

PARTICIPANTS:

The study involved 268 long-term cannabis users who had regularly used cannabis for at least 10 years.

MEASUREMENTS:

A structured interview schedule obtained information on: demographics, social circumstances, patterns of cannabis and other drug use, contexts of use, perceptions about cannabis and legal involvement.

FINDINGS:

The mean age of the sample was 36 years and 59% were made. The median length of regular cannabis use was 19 years. Most (94%) used two or more times a week and 60% used daily, with a median of two joints per day. Two-thirds (67%) used cannabis in social settings and two-thirds grew cannabis for their own use. The most common reasons for using cannabis were for relaxation or relief of tension (61%) and enjoyment or to feel good (27%). The most commonly reported negative effects were feelings of anxiety, paranoia, or depression (21%), tiredness, lack of motivation and low energy (21%) and effects of smoke on the respiratory system (18%). The majority drank alcohol (79%) and over one-third were drinking at hazardous levels. Most were current (64%) or ex-tobacco smokers (24%). One-quarter (25%) had been charged with possession of cannabis, 11% for cultivation and 6% for supply, with non-drug offences low (8%or less). Overall, three-quarters (72%) believed that the benefits of cannabis use outweighed the risks, 21% felt there was an even balance, and 7% said cannabis had done them more harm than good.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among long-term cannabis users in this Australian rural area, cannabis use was an integral part of everyday life and it was primarily used in social situations for the same reasons that alcohol use is used in the wider community.

PMID:
9744119
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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