High prevalence of cannabis use, mental health impacts, and potential intervention strategies: data from the Cape York cannabis project

Bohanna, India, Graham, Veronica, Robertson, Jan, Rogerson, Bernadette, Genn, Ray, Demarchi, Celia, O'Brien, Jana, and Clough, Alan (2011) High prevalence of cannabis use, mental health impacts, and potential intervention strategies: data from the Cape York cannabis project. Drug and Alcohol Review, 30 (S1). p. 13.

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Abstract

Introduction and Aims: High rates of cannabis use and dependence are significant issues in remote Indigenous communities. We have previously shown extremely high rates of cannabis use, dependence and adverse mental health impacts in Arnhem Land. This study reports the first data on cannabis use and its mental health impacts in Cape York.

Design and Methods: We interviewed over 300 Aboriginal people aged 16–40 years in three remote Cape York communities. Data was gathered on rates of cannabis use, mental health impacts including dependence and withdrawal, and reasons for quitting.

Results: One in two individuals interviewed was using cannabis, with most using cannabis daily or weekly. Approximately 70% reported cannabis dependence. Encouragingly, more than 70% of current users were considering quitting/cutting down or had made previous attempts. In current users, seeking or starting employment was the most common motivation for wanting to quit, whilst former users quit primarily for family reasons. Users reported negative mental health impacts of cannabis. One in four reported ‘stressing out’ when cannabis was unavailable, suggesting withdrawal. Anger/ irritability, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, thoughts of suicide/ self-harm and memory impairment were reported in up to 10% of users.

Discussion and Conclusions: Rates of use and dependence are much higher than national rates (4.9% of males and 2.2% of females nationally used cannabis in the past week, 21% exhibiting dependence), and are similar to Northern Territory rates. One in four Aboriginal users in remote communities may be suffering mental ill health. Interventions should enhance quit support and employment opportunities and strengthen families.

Item ID: 21691
Item Type: Article (Abstract)
Additional Information:

Drug and Alcohol Review, Special Issue: Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference 2011, 13-16 November 2011, Hobart, Australia. Volume 30, Issue Supplement s1, pages 2–92, November 2011

ISSN: 1465-3362
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2012 22:41
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 80%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 30%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 20%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 20%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
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