Youth Experience

What did youth say about psychosis and pot?

At one of the workshops, youth researchers shared their thoughts and experiences.

They expressed messages on postcards they wanted to share with important people in their lives, and the public: their parents, siblings, cousins, friends and others. You may find their straightforward, unscripted comments a little unsettling and enlightening.

They also created powerful videos that explored their experiences.

Scroll through the postcards to read their messages.

To Kids Age 14-18: Pot smoking pot can (sometimes) be a scary experience. You can lose control. For some people that’s a good thing, for other it’s not. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. Inform yourself whenever possible. Pot is stronger than that in your parent’s days. As with everything in life, there are consequences. So educate yourselves so you can make decisions that are right for you.

Yo dude,

Remember how weird I used to be when we smoked weed? Trapped in my head while you guys laughed, carried on and had a good time?
Turns out I wasn’t alone. Other people with psychosis have had similar experiences. I wonder if people who’ve never had psychosis feel like this when they’re high?

Hey Brothers,

You think the ways you’re going are fun but you gotta remember, your mental state always catches up to you. Treat your mind right and it will treat you great!

P.S I am always here to help.

To Parents:

Most kids start smoking weed when they are 12. Reasons for that are because of older siblings, peer pressure. If we target a more youthful audience, then we can help youth make choices that are good for them.

To Everyone:

I've begun to seriously ponder that perhaps if you've never experienced psychosis and you smoke marijuana and you begin to experience negative highs and you push through negative highs by continuing to use marijuana, you may be lend yourself to your first episode of psychosis.

Dear Fictional,

If you are considering cannabis you may not find what you are looking for. Also, if you have underlying mental illness or a propensity for such, it may bring out or potentiate them.

To my future tween daughter,

Your peers and social group may pressure you to try out marijuana and although it may seem like something new, fun or exciting to try out I want you to know the negative effects. It smells and isn't good for your health, your dependence on it may increase over time. What starts off as something to do with your friends may turn into an isolating or scary experience. I don't ever want that for you.

To everyone:

We're finding that pot use seems to change over time, and people start for different reasons. I cant believe how early some people start smoking pot! The most common response is 12 years old!

Hi there,

I just wanted to inform you of the dangers of smoking cannabis at your age. You're only 16 and the risk you're taking may not be worth it. Just think about it please.

Dear Sam (my cousin)

So you're eight and still don't know what marijuana is. Great, but I know it won't be long. Long story short, if you're unhappy or feeling pressure from friends about it, no what, do your own thing.

You know best, Love Alison

To my son who will eventually go through adolescence: Always be yourself and not who someone else wants you to be. Peer pressure is just that pressure, no need to give in. Escape through your sports and creativity.

Love Dad

Dear Emily and Anna (my future daughters)

You are always welcome home. If you ever want to go out for a coffee, dinner, lunch, breakfast, ice cream or a walk, a paddle, just let me know.

Cheers
I love you, Dad

My friends in same state of mind,
Just cause they are doing it, doesn't mean you have to. As isolated as you may feel by not smoking, don't! Better to feel well than fall ill further.

My dear 13-year old niece,

I have been learning all about weed and how there are different kinds, why people use and why they continue to use. I want you to have everything you are capable of having and the best life. You are so strong and have always been such a great friend that I want you to make choices you feel good about.

To my Buddy,

If you're lonely call me up and we can hang out - we can talk, joke around, laugh, cry, listen to music, dance, eat, talk about everything and nothing at all. Don't stay home getting high! I promise you'll feel better hanging out with me. Put down the joint and come hang with me!

My dearest daughter (age 13)

When I was your age I hung out excessively in playgrounds, spent my babysitting money on pot, smoked pot to have fun and feel loved but ended up fully paranoid and alone. If I learned one thing, it would be I could have been having much more fun doing something else more worthwhile, Something I would not regret wasting my time and money on.

Love Mom

To Paige,

I have learnt about the experiences of marijuana and psychosis. I was able to express my feelings about using drugs using a creative outlet and I am able to express to youth the dangers of smoking weed.

Pot can increase your chances of experiencing another psychotic episode. It relieves stress in the short run, however with continued use it prevents antipsychotic medication from working, can rearrange your brain and prevent any psychotic medication from working. This would be you experiencing psychosis, for the rest of your life and being unable to love it.

From: Newly diagnosed with a psychotic illness

Dear Mom and Dad,

I wish you didn't smoke pot and leave it around all the time. It was too easy for me to get into...Later you were surprised and mad that I became a pothead. Well what the fuck, you were potheads too! How do you expect me to stay away? I really wish I hadn't started.

If you smoke pot, you're taking a huge risk. But could potentially learn something about yourself and gain a new perspective on life. If you understand the dangers, go for it.