Nduta’s mum had missed her daughter. It was 2 weeks since she joined the university and had moved out of home to the university hostel for the first time in her life. She knew Nduta was now 18years old, an adult. Either way she decided to make a surprise visit to the hostel and probably take her a bowl of ice cream.
As she walked through the hostel corridor she noted that 3 rooms had smoke coming out of the door spaces. It smelt like burning grass, she kept walking until she got to her daughters room. She could hear people giggling and talking in low tones and decided to knock. As the door opened her jaw dropped as she was hit by thick cloud of smoke. “You are so late…. the weed is almost done…… we are already high!…..” one of the girls shouted clearly referring to someone else. Then Nduta suddenly noticed it was her mum and shouted … “Mum! What are you doing here?”
The bowl of ice cream dropped. Nduta’s mother had no words. She had a flashback to a day she found some dry leaves in Nduta’s school bag while she was in high school, she thought of the strange neighborhood boys that randomly knocked on their gate and asked for Nduta who would go out and talk to then for less than 2 minutes and go right back to her room; she allowed herself to breathe in and out as her feet grew weak and her mouth went dry; she could feel…..her back and underarms wet with sweat…… “My daughter, who I raised in the church… is smoking bhang??”
Weed, Bhang, Shtundu, hashish, Marijuana are just but a few street names for cannabis sativa.
NACADA reports that 1% of Kenyans are using bhang with statistics from the USA revealing 3.4% of 12-17year olds. It is available as rolled joints that are smoked or used to bake cakes and biscuits (weed cookies). Cannabis is illegal in Kenya but still remains the most easily accessible drug according to a national survey by NACADA in 2012.
What to look out for.
You may notice any of these symptoms if your child has used cannabis with the last 2hrs.
- Red eyes
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Problematic behavior (aggression)
- Excessive happiness (euphoria)
- Social withdrawal
- Impaired motor coordination
- Impaired judgment
- They may began to see things that others cannot see (hallucinations)
Many users have excuses to support the habit of abusing cannabis like it relieves stress; makes one more alert and creative; is a natural herb (being an unprocessed plant leaf) and the myth that cannabis is not addictive.
Unlike alcohol, which has obvious physical symptoms when one withdraws from use, cannabis has psychological withdrawal symptoms that include low mood; feeling giddy and not themselves after abstaining immediately after a prolonged period of regular use.
The use of cannabis especially before 18years of age has been associated with a six times higher risk of developing of psychosis.
What to do
If you suspect your child is using cannabis they can receive help that involves psychotherapy (Talk therapy) and may require rehabilitation after a comprehensive mental health assessment. Medical tests can be carried out that show use within the last 3 weeks.