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Cannabis

What it is

Cannabis is a product of the cannabis sativa plant that's used for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects. Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical substances called cannabinoids. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid and is most responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis.

 

How it’s used

Cannabis comes in many forms, including dried flowers and leaves; hash; extracts such as oil and shatter; and edibles like chocolate, candy, or baked goods. It’s now legal for adult use in Canada. 3.6 million (12 per cent) Canadians used cannabis in 2015 (when it was still illegal). When cannabis is inhaled, cannabinoids are absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream, with immediate effects. When swallowed, cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach and intestine—which takes longer to have an effect.

 

How it affects us

Many people who use cannabis socially say it helps them relax, but some people actually feel anxious after using cannabis. Cannabis can help relieve the symptoms of some medical conditions such as some types of pain and nausea. But over time, smoking a lot of cannabis can irritate the respiratory tract, increasing risk of chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

 

The risks

Heavy use is associated with a variety of harms, including psychosis—when a person experiences a break from reality or bizarre thinking. Regular use by young people can interfere with healthy brain development, and with normal patterns of social interaction with friends. People who use often may feel they need to use cannabis to feel normal and function during the day. And people who stop using cannabis after regular use may experience mild feelings of withdrawal (e.g. anxiety, sleep disturbances, feeling uneasy). Compared to tobacco, the risk of developing some cancers is lower for cannabis users.

 

Lowering the risk

Don’t use too much at one time, start smaller and see if that’s enough. Choose safer inhalation methods like vaporizers or e-cigarettes, or edibles. Don’t use too often. Avoid using every day or every weekend. And use cannabis only in safe times and places. If going out, stay in the company of trusted friends and use safe transportation options. If using edibles, remember that they take longer to kick in. If smoking, leave tobacco out of the mix. Avoid unsafe practices like deeply inhaling or holding your breath. 

 

Here’s more information on lower risk cannabis use.

 

When to seek help

Using cannabis is a problem if it affects your life or the lives of others in a negative way. Even using just once can be a problem—if it leads to a poor decision like driving before the effects have worn off. If you’re concerned about your own cannabis use, speak to your doctor about your options for getting help.

 

Tools

Mental Health 101

Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health.​ You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.

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27 Program(s)

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program

IWK
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The IWK Mental Health and  Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...

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The Marguerite Centre

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Marguerite Centre provides a holistic, women-centred approach to recovery from substance misuse and gambling addiction. We are an inclusive, safe, non-judgmental...

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Eskasoni Mental Health

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

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First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

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Caregiver, Family

Kids Help Phone

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...

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211

211
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

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Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

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Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

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Canadian Forces, RCMP

Narcotics Anonymous

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of people for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs. There is only one...

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Mental Health and Addictions Wellness Program

The Wellness Clinic is an ongoing, client-focused program that is based on what the client or group of clients want to work on that day. There is no waitlist or referral...

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Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

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Wellness Court

Wellness Court Programs are specialty or problem-solving courts, where a team of professionals helps treat the issues contributing to the individual coming into conflict with...

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of...

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Seniors

Mood Disorders Clinic

The mood disorders clinic provides consultations for individuals with severe mood disorders such as possible bipolar disorder. This is a specialized service that provides diagnosis and treatment of severe mood disorders.

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Adults

First Responders Assist

This service will offer short-term counselling and supportive services, including follow up if needed, for first responders and their families impacted by the tragedies of...

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First Responders

Inpatient Withdrawal Management Unit

The inpatient treatment program provides medical, supervised withdrawal management and support to individuals that require treatment and support to manage their withdrawal...

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Driving While Impaired (DWI) Program / Alcohol Ingnition Interlock Program (AIIP)

If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked for an alcohol or drug-related offence, you are required by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to attend the DWI Program in...

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Seniors Mental Health Services

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...

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Seniors

School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)

The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...

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Children / Youth

Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic

The Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic provides mental health services to Veterans, eligible members of the Canadian Forces (CF), RCMP members and former members, who have...

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Canadian Forces, RCMP

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

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First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

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First Nations, Indigenous

Crossroads Clubhouse

Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...

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Community Support Service (Adults)

The Community Support Teams for Adults/Community Supports for Adults supports individuals living with persistent mental illness to develop and maintain a safe, satisfying...

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Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

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Child and Adolescent Services

Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...

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