Lockdown has led to massive demand in cannabisas many are left stressed and jobless, raising concerns that a mental health crisis is well underway.
28% rise in possession offences
A rise in anxiety, stress and depression has lead to an increase in marijuana consumption amongst Brits. County lines gangs have now been flooding areas with cannabis after lockdown caused a drop in demand for ‘party drugs.’
Advice service Release also conducted a survey amongst adult users which showed that 7 out of 10 purchases made since lockdown began has been for weed. Marijuana users have also admitted to taking the substance more, while police have seen possession charges ramp up by 28%. Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa who is taking the lead on UK’s alcohol and substance misuse explained:
People used to a buzz or enjoyment in their life will want another now it’s stopped. We are in lockdown. Humans are social animals. All of this is going to lead to people being more likely to consume cannabis.
Back in 2020, Scotland also saw a similar pattern of behaviour as their first lockdown. In May last year, an Edinburgh based charity called Crew 2000, surveyed hundreds of recreational drug users and had found that use had increased by about 50% compared to before the lockdown, with one of the main culprits being marijuana. Crew 2000’s Kira Weir stated:
A lot of that was to do with boredom. For example, with cannabis, people say they're smoking more because they had more time on their hands, and actually, they saw it as a way to de-stress; they saw it as some 'me time.’
A clear sign of mental health problems on the rise
While some may have increased their marijuana intake due to boredom, others have used the drug as a way to self medicate. Weir continued to explain that many were experiencing mental health problems and feelings of loneliness and isolation:
Other people mentioned that it was because of isolation, because they've lost their other support networks, and for some people they saw it as a coping mechanism.
Last year Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists dubbed 2020 as the ‘worst year for mental health since World War Two.' This is because lockdowns of varying degrees have left people all over the UK with anxiety, stress, job loss, a loss of support systems and socialisation, and even the loss of loved ones due to coronavirus. This situation has been a breeding ground for mental health problems and even led to a 15% increase in urgent referrals from March-July in 2020.
If you find yourself suffering from any mental health problems whether it is due to coronavirus related circumstances or otherwise, there is never any shame in seeking professional advice either in person or through a virtual therapist appointment. Mental health Charity Samaritans are also available at any time, day or night at 116 123.
Alternatively, if you find yourself growing concerned about your drug use during the lockdown, confidential help and advice are always available through We Are With You.