Number of Portuguese Pupils Taking Cannabis Doubles Under Relaxed Drug Laws

Drugs are used and abused daily, all over the world. The reasons for this differ depending on who the abuser is. It is common for teens and young adults to feel pressured to try drugs by their friends. Whatever the reasons, drug-taking is all too easy to get into, but once an individual is hooked, it can take months and even years of painful withdrawal symptoms, relapses and a whole lot of hard work to get out of the destructive cycle and on the road to recovery.

Rise in Drug Use of Pupils in Portugal

In a recent study in Portugal, it has emerged that fifteen per cent of 15-16-year-olds in that country have admitted to using cannabis. This figure compares to just seven per cent in 1995 when drug laws were stricter in the Iberian state. Portugal decriminalised personal drug use in 2001 and had since been praised by many campaigners including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

It appears as if the young people of Portugal are taking advantage of this relaxed law, which has been evidenced by the increase in young people taking the drugs since 1995. It looks as if removing these sanctions gave these youngsters the go ahead to abuse cannabis.

The findings of this Portuguese study have sparked warnings from campaigners in Britain to avoid following Portugal’s lead in the decriminalisation of personal drug use. Kathy Gyngell, a member of the Centre for Policy Standards think-tank, has said, “It is a disaster for young people in Portugal, and it would be a disaster for young people in this country if the Portuguese example were ever followed here.”

After seeing the results of this research, it is a clear indicator for the British Government to rebuke all requests for implementing the same approach in Britain.

Dangers of Drug Taking at a Young Age

Drug abuse at any age is extremely dangerous to health and wellbeing. However, starting to take drugs at a younger age is especially hazardous, as it can lead to a host of health problems in later life. These can include:

  • addiction
  • memory loss
  • violent and aggressive behaviour

There are many dangers associated with drug use at a young age especially as some drugs can physically change the neural pathways in the brain, ultimately affecting many functions of this organ. As a young person’s brain is still developing, drug use poses a massive risk of mental health issues in adult life. A worrying figure presented by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) has shown that children who start drinking alcohol before the age of fifteen are five times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction when compared to someone who started drinking at the age of twenty-one or older.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

No matter what age a person is, addiction is a significant risk if they abuse drugs or alcohol. Thankfully, there are many treatments available to help those affected by addiction. Professional counsellors, therapists and medical staff work tirelessly to help addicts overcome this destructive illness.

Treatment for both drug and alcohol addictions usually begin with a programme of detoxification. This is necessary because patients need to have a clear mind and body before they can start rehab. Detoxification is the process of quitting the substance which is being abused and waiting until it leaves the body completely.

Detoxing from any chemical substance can be complicated due to withdrawal symptoms but with a supervised programme, patients will find the process easier and more comfortable.

Once detox has been completed, rehab can begin, and this usually involves a series of individual and group therapy sessions designed to help the addict identify the cause of their behaviour and learn how to manage it going forward.


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