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Welcome to Y-Smart Drug And Alcohol Newsletter


We hope you all had a great summer.  The Autumn term is now fully upon us, we thought this would be a great time to send you all a quick update with what is happening at Y-Smart.  Back in one of our previous editions we told you all about the issues we see from NPS (Legal High) use.  We asked you if you were interested in having training and the response was fantastic.  We are now running half day NPS courses.  See below for the next available course dates.    

So in this edition we wanted to talk you about about Cannabis.  It is a drug that has divided opinion for years with many stating that it should be legalised and that it carries health promoting benefits.  We regularly get levelled these arguments by young people.  Some of the young people we see don't consider Cannabis to be a drug.... 
Did You know we now provide AQA Unit awards on drugs and alcohol? 
to find out more.
Cannabis is a clever drug.  Our brains have receptors that specifically target Cannabis and allows the drug to lock onto our brains and begin its job of altering the functions of the brain.  To understand where we are now we need to understand where we've come from culturally.  Take a trip back from to the 60's.  Cannabis was a central part of the hippy movement in the USA and the UK. In the US they were smuggling Cannabis in from Mexico and some people were growing it in isolated regions.  In the UK the cannabis was smuggled in from Pakistan and Morocco.  This trend continued and it was a drug that remained on the periphery till the late 90's.  During the 90's Ecstasy was flooded into the UK from Europe and ravers would spent their weekends using pills and Cannabis was still being used and imported into the UK through traditional smuggling means... One of the downsides of living on a huge island is you have an unpoliceable amount of coastline.  Most of the Cannabis being used was resin or hashish.  This is an alternative to traditional cannabis and is made by turning parts of the plant into powder and then compressing it at heat to form a solid.  The strength of this varies.

At some point during mid 00's we started to see the decimalisation of Cannabis. It was until this point being sold in imperial measurements but this changed to metric grams. Cannabis now sits at £10 per gram.  As this was happening the importing of resin decreased and there was a rise in 'home grown' products on the market.  The trend changed so that suppliers were now starting to grow cannabis in the UK.  They did this through large scale outfits that took over abandoned industrial units through to criminal gangs renting properties in residential areas and turning them into grow houses.  

With suppliers now having much more control of their products the last ten years have seen an increase in potency of some of the cannabis on the market.  This is from Cannabis that has been bred specifically to have high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).  This is the active ingredient in cannabis that gets the user stoned.  It's also the chemical that scientists are concerned by as they believe there is a link between THC and poor mental health.  It has a huge effect on the brain and it lights up areas of the brain like Blackpool Illuminations as the THC molecules find the Cannabinoid receptors in the brain and binds to them.  This is similar to how Heroin works.It sticks to the receptor.  The THC will then disrupt the function that the brain is supposed to do. So for example memory retention, co-ordination or emotional regulation.  
We often see young people using Cannabis to control thoughts and feelings.  In the short term is may provide some relief but it can often compound the difficulties they are experiencing in the long run. 
The other major ingredient to Cannabis is Cannibidiol (CBD).  Now this doesn't get you high like THC and does have some medicinal properties that are well documented.  Such as anti-inflammatory effects, pain relief and relieving anti-psychotic symptoms.  The difficulty here is that young people hear the benefits of one drug and associate them with the other but you are essentially comparing orange juice with orange squash.  Two very different drinks that share some common flavours.  The other major flaw here is that smoking a drug regardless how amazing it's health benefits may be for you completely back fire when your lungs are being damaged in the process.

The wider issues of how Cannabis effects young people are also some of the most concerning.  As mentioned before we often hear how this harmless drug is not really a drug but a gift from the earth and that it causes them no real problems.  After a short discussion exploring this with the young people we will often hear how they can't fund their cannabis use without spending food money on it or possibly stealing from a relative.  How it has become a major issue between them and their partner or how they are struggling with school,sleeping,eating etc etc.The list goes on.

The next issue

In the last couple of years we have seen the rise of NPS.  The biggest section being synthetic cannabis.  This is a misleading term as it gives the impression these drugs behave like cannabis.  The truth is that they are very very different.  This is more akin to comparing orange juice with diesel. These drugs are administered in the same way.  They are herbal products that have been sprayed with a chemical.  So basically trim some random leaves off a plant and then spray it with an industrial chemical.  Then burn it and inhale the fumes.  These drugs are very unpredictable and not much is known as the chemical compounds are changing regularly to avoid laws.

Y-Smart are running a half day course on NPS where we cover all types of 'legal high'.
Cannabis is a Class B Drug
Cannabis does harm your lungs
Cannabis used in medicine has low levels of THC


Y-SMART are pleased to be offering the opportunity to attend a ½ day training course to explore Novel Psychoactive Substance use in young people.


Using a range of media, This will include:

  • the context of substance use and young people, including vulnerability and protective factors.
  • An exploration of the use of NPS, their effects and potential negative impacts.
  • Harm reduction strategies in dealing with NPS and young people.
  • A chance to speak with other attendees about their experiences with young people’s use of NPS. 
This course is running on :

Friday 4th Dec 
Time 0930 - 1330
Venue: Ivybank, St Davids Hill Exeter

If you haven't done this training take a look on the Training Page to see book a place.

If you have young people that you are supporting that are using substances then talk to them about meeting with Y-Smart.  You can access our referral form here.  It is a quick and easy process and in less than three weeks your young person could be receiving specialist substance misuse support.

Remember we also work with children whose parents use drugs.  

If you have been hearing about a substance and you aren't sure what it is please email us with the information you have and this will be fed into our database about New Psychoactive Substances or street drugs.  Email
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