According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2010), substanceabuse is a physiological, behavioral and cognitive concern in which the use ofalcohol or drugs takes on a high priority than behaviours that used to be of greatvalue. In Norfolk out of 1000 under 18 year old survey participants, 19%have tried cannabis and one in four think cannabis can be used safely. 54% ofparticipants that drink every week and 34% who smoke tobacco every week havetried cannabis, compared to 18% who only drink occasionally and 1% who havenever smoked.
(Gummerson et al, 2012) These statistics similarly compare to anational study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2009). This correlation isnot so alarming seeing as smoking is the primary way to take cannabis however,it does highlight the need once a problem with one substance is notified toexplore the use of other substances and educate youths. Statistics also showthat effective education has declined and needs to improve among the under18’s. Demonstrated in the tellus survey (2009).
In 2009 it showed that 5% ofunder 18’s in Norfolk had used cannabis. Increasing in 2011, where 9% hadsmoked cannabis in the past month. (Gummerson et al, 2012) Therefore, adolescentsthat engage in cannabis abuse may not only be facing addiction to the drugitself but a problem in their holistic education.
(Gummerson, Wheeler andPalmer, 2012). Due to this worrying statistic and the need toeducate holistically, Her Majesty’s Government (2017) has produced a new substanceabuse structure and has given public health grants to countrywide and localschemes. An example of one countrywide scheme is the Life Chances Fund, whichaims to enhance people’s lives by increasing social innovation for cannabisusers. An example of a local authority is the youth service ‘Unity’ by TheMatthew Project (2017), which targets both treatment and prevention. TheMatthew Project is a Norfolk based service, which offers support and guidancefor substance abuse to under 19 year olds. Professionals include socialworkers, nurses, councillors and other practitioners, whom are available forguidance in a wide range of ways and settings.
With a wide range ofprofessionals, young cannabis users can be supported holistically. The MatthewProject just like many other projects is free. Therefore, as no single treatmentis the key for a cure, users can be educated repeatedly without financialburdens.
Sadly, there is no easy remedy for such a complicated psychologicalcondition. Other services include the National Treatment Agency (NTA) for Substance Misuse (2017). NTA gatherseducational resources together such as the Department for Children, Schools andFamilies (DCSF) and collectively and interprofessionally ensure youngpeople that are vulnerable and are experiencing a range of personal issues aretreated universally. Therefore, a wider range of a child’s agenda managed. Like othercounty-based projects a lot of young people that use cannabis are identified tothese projects through families, friends and health care professionals such asGP’s or paramedics.
Identifying people in high-risk groups is another possibleway for paramedics to help promote healthy living. In this circumstance youngcannabis users can be quickly and easily identified before it’s too late for them to access the care theyrequire. A study by Turner et al (2014) reviewed at-risk cannabis groups and outlined a protocol for screening,identifying, and managing the abuse. It found that there was no disadvantagefor screening everyone or solely at risk patients, as these patients can thenbe referred to specialists without neglecting a patient of the care needed. Inthe future, to enhance the ambulance service regular at risk screening therefore could be completed.One disadvantage of this politically would be that paramedics are stigmatisingat risk groups. A stigma defined by WHO (2008), is adistinguishing mark establishing isolation between the person involved and othersattributing negative characteristics to this person.
It is a huge cause ofdiscrimination and a lot of the time leads to social exclusion. People stigmatise young cannabisusers by thinking that they are lazy, are criminals and are not responsible forplaying an active role in society. (Brown, 2015) Shownin a study by JohnsHopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2014). Out of 709 participants, only22% would be willing to work with someone who is addicted to taking a substanceand 3 in 10 participants think that drug and mental health illnesses arepermanent within a person. Although this study has a low validity due to thenumber of participants, the low percentage of participants not willing to work withsubstance users indicates a wider socio cultural issue in society and the needfor wide ranges of education on this matter. A study conducted in Canterbury in1980 shows stigma assumed by healthcare professionals. A questionnaire was sentto different types of healthcare workers within a hospital asking for theirtolerance on substance users. It shows that doctors had the lowest toleranceand health care assistance the highest.
However, it also showed thatprofessionals whom specialised in substance abuse had a more optimisticapproach due to the fact that they have access to the independent variables andbetter education for this group in society. Healthcare professionals whoportray stigmas describe a cultural manner in which substance users areundervalued and excluded due to the fact that they have a discredited healthillness. (Cartwright, 1980) Worryingly this contributes to the abuse of human rightsand the disregard to that medical professionals governing body. In 2007, a revised Health andCare Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Proficiencyfor paramedics was produced, which all paramedics have to adhere to.
It states that a paramedic must ‘understand the need to respect and uphold the rights, dignity,values, and autonomy of service users including their role in the diagnosticand therapeutic process in maintaining health and wellbeing and to be able to practise in a non-discriminatorymanner.’ (HCPC,2007) In conclusion professional organisations andgovernment public initiatives must gain better resources to prevent and managehealth-related stigma for a nondiscriminatory National Health Service (NHS).