A Joint Effort to kick the habit is key to success for users
FOR every draw of a joint she took, she would be stealing a precious breath from her unborn baby.
With this thought, Kylie Barnes quit cannabis and never looked back.
Now a mother of five, the Rockhampton woman says she can't imagine where she would be if she had kept smoking weed.
"I started when I was 12 and then quit when I fell pregnant at 16," she said.
"The biggest change was money and just having more energy. I have no idea what I was thinking."
Kylie spoke to The Morning Bulletin early last week, following the launch of a new National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre campaign.
The campaign, named Joint Effort, asks cannabis-users to grab a mate, team up and kick their weed habit together.
According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, cannabis was the most common illicit drug in the country from 2012-13.
One in three (35%) Australians aged 14 and over had used cannabis in their lifetime, while one in 10 (10%) had used it in the previous 12 months.
Rockhampton Alcohol and Other Drugs Service clinical nurse consultant Casey Doyle said these statistics were largely mirrored in Central Queensland.
Mr Doyle said it was impossible to stop drug use, so their focus was on reducing it.
LONG TERM EFFECTS
Regular use of cannabis may eventually cause:
Regular colds or flu
Reduced sex drive
Difficulty having children (low fertility in males and females)
Dependence on cannabis
Cancer (if smoked with tobacco)
Visit ncpic.org.au for more info
"This is a three-fold approach which involves reducing the supply, reducing the demand through educating our children so they can make informed decisions and harm reduction," he said.
Mr Doyle said often using cannabis and other illicit drugs was a social thing for young people.
"So all of sudden when they try to give up they either have to cut ties with their friends or be strong and assertive to continue to say no," he said.
While there are many coping mechanisms, Mr Doyle said quitting with a mate and finding other activities to do together was a great idea.
"It's very similar to starting a new exercise regime - it's a lot easier to do with a friend," he said.
Gumbi Gumbi Drug and Alcohol Awareness Centre counsellor Frank Waters said those with a support network in place had a much greater chance of successfully kicking their addiction.
He said while everyone is different, cannabis could have long-term effects on a person's mental and physical well-being.
"People have got to realise there is a risk, a big risk," Mr Waters said.
On top of that, Mr Waters and Mr Doyle both pointed out the devastating social consequences drug use can have - particularly on your relationships.
"Once it tips over into the area where you're relying on a drug to get through the day... there are all these knock-on effects," Mr Doyle said.
Mr Waters said cannabis was often thought of as an "entry level" drug leading to harder substances, but it was also a problem in itself.
"Cannabis is not something to laugh at."