Preferred Name: Louise
Louise is studying for a tertiary qualification and works part time in hospitality. She lives with her parents and siblings. She describes her ethnic background as ‘Australian’: she and her mother were born in Australia, and her father was born in South Africa.
Louise started smoking cannabis in her mid-teens when a friend introduced her to it and a few years later, she says her consumption became more ‘regular’. She now smokes it daily, organising her consumption around her work and studies. At the request of her parents, Louise saw a drug counsellor for a couple of sessions but didn’t find counselling particularly helpful. At the time of the interview, she was ‘on a break’ from smoking cannabis largely for financial reasons but also out of a concern to avoid developing ‘tolerance’. She intends to resume smoking cannabis after her break.
When Louise first started smoking cannabis regularly, her parents didn’t know and when they discovered it, they encouraged her to seek alcohol and other drug counselling. Seeing no reason to do so, Louise was reluctant to attend counselling but she went to a couple of sessions at the request of her parents. While she says it was ‘good to talk to someone’, overall she didn’t find the experience helpful. As she explains, ‘I wasn’t really [going] there for me […] Mum wanted me to […] It just reconfirmed my ideas that I really have no problem’. Around the same time, Louise also went to see a psychologist, at the request of her parents. She mentioned her cannabis use but as she does not feel it’s an issue, did not discuss it at any length during counselling.
At the time of the interview, Louise was ‘on a break’ from smoking cannabis largely for financial reasons but also out of a concern to keep her ‘tolerance [for cannabis] in check’. She says she finds the strategy of ‘self-limiting’ helpful as it enables her to ‘evaluate’ her consumption and ensure she doesn’t ‘spend all [her] money [on cannabis]’. She has no plans for regular breaks and will resume smoking cannabis after her break.
When she completes her degree and starts working, Louise thinks she may reduce her cannabis consumption because she says ‘it’s not practical’ in the line of work she plans to pursue. However, at the moment, she’s enjoying ‘taking advantage of all the free time [she has]’ to smoke cannabis.
Louise (F, 19, studying, cannabis) keeps tabs on her cannabis consumption and occasionally takes a break to save money and keep her ‘tolerance… in check’.
[I just try to self-limit, I guess]. I mean if I have [cannabis], I don’t have that much self-control to not smoke […] But I can stop if it’s not there.
I’m always just trying to evaluate, make sure I’m not getting out of control or anything […At the moment I’m not smoking for a couple of weeks…] I’ll just wait two weeks and then smoke, so it’s fine. Like there are times when I’m like, oh I could use a smoke. But it’s not that big a deal because I know I’m on a break. But if I’m like unwillingly on a break because I couldn’t find weed or something, that’s when it’ll make me upset if I was expecting to get it […] It’s usually money [that prompts me to take a break]. Now I have something I want to save for […] Also just tolerance, I want to keep that in check […] You know, like you just keep needing to smoke more and more for the same high. That’s related to finance too though.
Louise attended alcohol and other drug counselling at the request of her parents, but says it wasn’t helpful because she felt she was ‘being forced to [go]’.
[The counsellor said] ‘You are so much better than other people that are here for serious addictions. Like, you don’t really have a problem’ […] I was like being forced to [go] to make my parents happy, you know. I guess we just talked about my family and […] how that’s the sort of biggest issue with [my cannabis use…] I mean she seemed to think my life was on track, so I don’t really have anything to worry about [….It wasn’t really helpful] because I wasn’t really there for me. Like, I don’t really have a reason to be there for me, so I just like went there because I had to […] Mum just wanted me to go […] It just like reconfirmed my ideas that I really have no problem.