Preferred Name: Lala
Lala works part-time in health services. She lives on her own and is ‘dating’. She describes her ethnic background as ‘Italian’: she was born in Australia and her parents were born in Italy.
Lala began smoking cannabis in her mid-teens and has continued to do so since then. She smokes in the evenings after work and on days off. She says that smoking cannabis helps her ‘live a good life’, but over time she’s come to see her consumption as a ‘dependence’ that takes up a lot of energy. A few months before the interview she went to an alcohol and other drug treatment service to discuss her cannabis use, and now plans to make a follow-up appointment as she intends to ‘make moves towards stopping’ in the future.
Lala began smoking cannabis in her mid-teens with friends at high school and has done so regularly ever since. Usually she smokes in the evenings after work and on her days off. She says that it helps her cope with her emotions and ‘live a good life’. Recently, however, Lala has come to consider her cannabis use a ‘dependence’ because she finds ‘the idea of being without cannabis […] a stress’, and she spends a lot of time and energy ‘thinking about and pursuing access’ to it. Every few months she travels to another city where she can’t get it easily so she usually takes a break from it when she’s away. She says that before each trip she feels ‘nervous’ about taking a break, but once she’s away from home she feels ‘more confident and happier’. She adds that she doesn’t think about cannabis much until she gets home and it again starts to ‘take up a lot of [her] consciousness.’
Lala now thinks she wants to ‘make moves towards stopping smoking’ but finds the idea of ‘learning a way to live without’ cannabis ‘very scary’. Around a year before the interview she went to an alcohol and other drug treatment service to discuss her consumption. She recalls feeling a ‘mix of emotions’ about going and now thinks it wasn’t a good time to ‘really address’ her consumption because she had ‘really big stuff happening’ in her life at the time. She now intends to return for a follow-up session to discuss stopping altogether. According to Lala, stopping is part of ‘recovering wholeness and wellness in a deep way’. At the time of the interview she was looking at buying a house in the town where she lives. In the future, after she’s bought her first home, she plans to have a child.
Lala (F, 35, works in health services, cannabis) considers her regular cannabis consumption a ‘dependence’ because she spends a lot of time trying to access cannabis and gets stressed when her supply runs low. (Played by an actor)
I’ve been smoking every day for the past two years, and I smoke after work and on my days off. I know it’s a dependence [because] when I’m about to run out, I start to get stressed about how I’m going to get some more, and […] the idea of being without cannabis is a stress to me. Like, it’s something that I seek, so when they talk about drug dependence [involving things like] spending a lot of time thinking about, and [trying to] access a drug, that’s my relationship with cannabis.
[…And I mean] I don’t really want to go chasing it, I don’t like the chasing thing. Like, it’s such an obvious drug […] dependent behaviour that it just makes me cringe at myself.
Lala says it would have been useful to have information on what to expect before her first alcohol and other drug counselling session. (Played by an actor)
Yeah, I’ve been to [a treatment service] I went once and I do want to make a follow-up appointment […I mean] it was good [… but] I would have liked to get some information before the appointment. I think [it] would have been useful because [they] asked me all these questions about my use that I just didn’t really have time to consider. So now reflecting […] on the answers that I gave […] then, I’ve realised […] they weren’t accurate. Like, I totally underestimated my use. So I feel like it could have been more useful for me to reflect and maybe keep a diary before [going to] my first appointment, so I’m coming armed with the information.
Lala highlights the need for person-centred care, which addresses the ‘emotional and spiritual’ aspects of life that shape drug consumption. (Played by an actor)
I think having more information about how people approach [drug use] is really important […Like] my impression of services is that there’s not much support for the emotional and spiritual stuff that underlies problematic drug use. And I feel like that’s what I need help with […but] I don’t see any information around coping mechanisms […or] how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, or strategies [for coping] when relationships are dysfunctional.
Lala offers a broad view of recovery as regaining ‘wholeness and wellness’. (Played by an actor)
I think […the idea of recovery] does resonate, but I don’t think it’s from drug use […] I think it’s recovery from the stuff underneath, and I think that’s what’s really scary […] It’s about dealing with everything that’s underneath and finding a way to live […] with all the pain […] and still function […] It’s recovering wholeness and wellness in a deep way.
Lala worries about the consequences of getting a positive reading for cannabis in a roadside drug test even though she avoids smoking it before driving. (Played by an actor)
[Cannabis is] illegal so the consequences could be really big [if I get caught]. Like, they’ve just started all this random drug testing and, like, I get around by bicycle but I need to drive […] for work. And what if I get a positive reading? I don’t smoke before work, I never do, but […] I’m a daily smoker. So, you know [I’m always] just, like, checking, worried that I’ll get pulled over and get a positive test.