Clinic opens as expert says kick habit

COFFS Coast cannabis smokers now have access to a new clinic specially designed to help them kick the habit.

North Coast Area Health Service director of Drug and Alcohol Services, John Leary, said the cannabis clinics provide a range of support to the increasing number of local people experiencing health and lifestyle problems as result of their drug use.

“While recent population surveys indicate that regular use of cannabis is now decreasing, research has proved that there is a risk of developing a dependence on cannabis with regular use,” Mr Leary said.

“The cannabis clinics will offer individually tailored treatment to people who identify cannabis as their primary drug of concern.”

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia, with approximately 33 per cent of Australians having used it at least once in their lifetime.

The NSW government funded four trial cannabis clinics in Sydney in 2006, and the evaluation of these clinics found them to be a successful model of treatment.

The clinics at Coffs Harbour, Macksville and other North Coast areas are being provided in Community Health Centres, in an effort to attract people into the treatment who may not wish to attend drug and alcohol facili- ties.

The support is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, which provides psychological counselling to the user.

“The clinics will also aim to identify any cannabis users with a mental health disorder and provide special assistance,” Mr Leary said.

Clinic staff members will offer advice and support to problematic cannabis users, parents or carers, and all contact will be on a confidential basis.

Access to the cannabis clinics is via a dedicated number, call 1300 664 098.

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