Research shows men account for the majority of the 1.9 million cannabis users in Australia, but female smokers are more likely to use every day now.
Naomi smokes a couple of bong in the morning after his two-year-old son fed and clothed. Once he was asleep at night, he smokes about 20 others.
The 29-year-old said he woke up feeling fresh the next day. He pays his bill, sticks to a task and never smokes in front of his son.
Cannabis, “all things are little more pleasant,” says Naomi. But without it, his body begins to shake and anxiety takes over. “I never think of anything worse than going without marijuana,” he said.
Naomi is among a growing number of women who smoke weed every day, according to the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey.
The research shows that 1.9 million Australians over 14 years of age who have used cannabis in the past year, 1.2 million people. But female smokers are more likely to use every day now. Fourteen percent of women users smoke daily, compared with 12 percent of the people.
Women also tend to become addicted more quickly, suffer worse withdrawal symptoms and are less likely to seek help, international research suggests.
“Women have a higher tolerance so they need to be used at higher levels,” says Jan Copeland, head of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.
“They are more at risk of negative effects including paranoia and other kinds of feelings of anxiety-type, but also in addiction.”
Large study from Yale University in 2011 and Columbia University in 2012 found that women are more likely to “telescope” with their use, moving rapidly from the first joint of dependency.
Lighting up is also a better predictor of poor mental health in women than it is in humans, researchers from King’s College London and Utrecht University reported in 2014. “Men tend to use for positive reasons, “says Ms. Copeland. “They are having fun, their friends are using, cannabis is available, they just go with the flow.”
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to smoke “with the appearance of an internal distress situation.”
Emma 31, calls herself a “high-functioning drug addict”. She is a single mother of a seven year old, employed part-time and about to embark on a Masters degree in law.
Having tried cannabis for the first time when he was about 16, Emma has spent the past eight years smoking “full time”: a cone every 45 minutes or so. It helps her sleep at night, turn off and avoid drama, he says. “If a person passes on, you can just numb it by a couple of bong. You do not have to sit there and mourn the emotion.”
Heavy use of either gender risk harms as well documented problems with mental disorders, insomnia and attention, the Australian Medical Association warned. More subtle brain changes may explain why men and women – and even appeared on the experience – the drug of others. Said sex hormones such as estrogen may play a role Monash University neuroscientist Valentina Lorenzetti as they shape the development of teenagers.
“The sex differences in the brain include subtly different anatomy and a variety of distribution and function of the brain cannabinoid receptors,” said Lorenzetti. Ironically, these hormones may explain the increased sensitivity of women led to their exclusion from many studies. Clinicians seeking to eliminate variable usually prefer hormonal stability men.NSW Health, which provides six cannabis rehabilitation clinic, offering treatment along the lines of gender.
“Research on specific reactions for women and cannabis is new, and it is not supported by a strong evidence base at this time,” said a spokesman.