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Everyone's Cool With It, Say Dope Smokers

Herb Fellow

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People who smoke marijuana overwhelmingly believe their friends, siblings and co-workers would condone their drug use, a study has found.

A study of Gold Coast university students found marijuana users had a generally positive view of their drug-taking, and thought the benefits outweighed the potential dangers.

They believed cannabis would help them fit in with their friends, feel relaxed, forget their worries and enjoy themselves.

Griffith University psychology researcher Fran O'Callaghan said the most surprising result was the belief that close friends, partners, siblings and work mates would approve of their using cannabis.

"I think if you looked within their [social circle], there would be people who would strongly disapprove - but their perception is that, overall, most people are OK with it," Dr O'Callaghan said.

Such feelings of acceptance meant that users were unlikely to seek help.

"One of the things that often leads people to seek help is because their partner or someone else in their family are so concerned and so upset about the user's behaviour," she said.

In comparison, non-users generally responded that their social circle would be unlikely to approve.

Dr O'Callaghan said the people surveyed were generally mild users who did not have severe problems associated with their drug use.

The researchers asked almost 200 students aged 17 to 29 about their thoughts on cannabis, and followed up two weeks later to find out if they had used the drug over the past fortnight.

Overall, about six in 10 students had used cannabis in their lifetime, and two-thirds of these had used it in the past 12 months.

About one in five used cannabis in the two-week period between surveys, but Dr O'Callaghan said the result might underestimate the real use because regular users might be less likely to attend their university classes.

Users and non-users both recognised the possible costs of cannabis, such as addiction, health damage, financial cost and loss of self-control.

But users believed benefits such as fitting in with their friends, enjoying themselves and feeling relaxed were more likely.

The findings suggested that interventions and campaigns that highlighted negative aspects of cannabis use would have little affect in changing users' behaviour, Dr O'Callaghan said.

Instead, she said, positive programmes such as community and sporting activities that showed people it was possible to have fun without drugs were likely to have more effect.

Marijuana users also said that force of habit, feeling stressed and wanting to relax and being around other users would encourage their use.

Dr O'Callaghan said the finding highlighted the importance of intervention before people became compulsive users, and the need for people to learn other means of dealing with stress.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research.

Source: New Zealand Herald
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald
Contact: AAP
Website: Everyone's cool with it, say dope smokers - 26 Dec 2007 - NZ Herald: Lifestyle News and Reviews from New Zealand and around the World
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