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Cannabis is among the most widely used drugs in the world. According to the United Nations’ World Drug Report, cannabis is the drug of choice worldwide.  According to the report, no less than 3,8% of the global population used cannabis in 2014. 

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in Canada. According to a 2015 study, more than 44.5% of Canadians aged 15 and over reported using cannabis at some point in their life and 28% of cannabis users between the ages of 15 and 24 reported using it on a weekly basis.

Health risks associated with cannabis fall mainly into the following categories: accidents and injuries; problem consumption, including addiction; mental health problems; chronic lung conditions; cognitive disorders. While most of these problems are linked to frequent or prolonged cannabis use, accidents and injuries can occur after a single use. Do we fully understand the effects of cannabis?

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Effects and Harms of Cannabis: Misconceptions among Youth

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among Canadians aged 15 to 24, and is more commonly used by youth in Canada than in any other country, according to a study done by UNICEF (2013). Even more alarming is the fact that many Canadian youth are not properly educated about the effects and harms of the drug.

Believing that cannabis use can’t cause addiction, or that if it did it would only be a “mental” addiction, young people are all the more exposed to the risk.

Perceiving that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, they are more likely to start using it.

Thinking that cannabis use doesn’t affect the brain very much or at all, they are vulnerable to its physical and mental effects and potential serious consequences.

Long and Short-Term Effects of Cannabis

It’s a hot topic at the moment. The legalization of cannabis is already raising a few questions about public health and issues relating to substance abuse. Mental and physical health problems such as impaired cognitive functions (memory, concentration, psychomotor speed), the development of children born to mothers who use drugs, or the ability to drive a vehicle safely, are all points of debate regarding this substance whose effects are misunderstood.

Cannabis is often regarded as a ‘soft’ or ‘recreational’ drug by users. However, several studies demonstrate the effects and harmfulness of short and long-term use.

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The Treacherous Pitfalls of Drugs and Alcohol

Individual’s personal degree of vulnerability is a determining factor in the development of an addiction. Which begs the following question: Is there a way to measure our personal vulnerability? Unfortunately, no. It can only be discovered after we’ve fallen into the drug’s devious trap, much like the fly in the deadly nepenthes…

The nepenthes is a carnivorous plant that supplements its nutritional intake by attracting unsuspecting insects into its clever and unforgiving trap.

The plant is shaped like a funnel, the inside of which is coated in a sweet, slippery nectar and at the bottom is a pit containing liquid. The fly lands on the rim and begins to drink. As it does so it feels itself slipping down the funnel towards the pit, in which the drowned bodies of other flies are slowly being digested. But instead of flying away, the fly continues to drink. The nectar tastes good—it seems like the best thing in the world, but it’s the very thing that is luring the fly to its death.

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About Portage

Portage is a Canadian non-profit organisation that helps people suffering from substance abuse-related problems to overcome their dependencies and live healthy, happy, and productive lives.

Since it was established in 1970, Portage has helped tens of thousands of people to take back control of their lives with its specialised drug rehabilitation programs for adolescents, adults, pregnant women and mothers with children, the aboriginal community, adults with mental health issues, and individuals referred by the justice system.

Portage Blog

Portage Art Workshops

07-09-2019

For many years now, Portage has made art workshops available to the residents of its rehabilitation centres. The workshops promote creative freedom in a non-judgmental environment. I recently met with Catherine, who teaches art at the MICA Centre, to discuss their impact. A pause in the therapeutic process Portage’s Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers (MICA) program… Read more »

Edible Cannabis : “Second Wave” of Cannabis Legalization to Take Effect in the Fall

06-14-2019

Edible cannabis products (such as candies and cookies) will be authorized for sale starting in October. This “second wave” of cannabis legalization raises concerns surrounding the appeal and dangers of edible cannabis products.    Cases of cannabis intoxication in children On May 17, 2019, the Montreal Children’s Hospital sounded the alarm concerning edible cannabis products…. Read more »

E-Cigarettes: marketing and addiction?

05-24-2019

In an interview with the TVA Nouvelles news channel on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, fourteen-year old Elizabeth explained how she became addicted to nicotine through vaping, at one point consuming the equivalent of 100 cigarettes per day. E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular, especially among youth. The fault lies with some very clever marketing. An alternative… Read more »

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