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Due to the controversial nature of this topic and the target audience (young people) it is important that the reader reads the complete answer and not
simply one paragraph or a few sentences. Taking one part of the answer out of context can lead to a misinterpretation of the intended message.
Paul Dillon speaks to thousands of students across Australia providing information on alcohol and drugs, particularly in relation to looking after
themselves and their friends. Some young people make contact with him to ask questions that they did not feel comfortable asking in front of their peers.
The Real Deal on Drugs allows young people to ask questions about drugs and provides them with access to accurate and up-to-date information.

Hello Paul, I've been smoking pot for a while now and unfortunately I often experience 'bad trips' when I smoke and feel very depressed and sometimes have very frightening thoughts. My question is, is there something I can do to suppress, or maybe even stop this from happening? Reassurances from friends don't work at the time and it seems to me that only I can get out of it but that's proving difficult. Is there anything I can do to make sure I get the 'good' feelings from pot and not have any of the bad ones?

Well this is a really interesting one! Like any drug, cannabis has some positive effects (that's the reason people go back to smoke more) as well as others that are negative. The effect that the drug has on a person can depend on so many things - the amount that is taken, how it is taken, your gender, as well as the environment that you take the drug (where you are and even who are you with). Although there are exceptions, the vast majority of people who use drugs, use for a particular period of time (whether that be a day, weeks, months or years) and then stop of their own accord. Most people who stop using drugs do so for a very simple reason - the bad effects start outweighing the good ones ... put simply, the drug starts to adversely affect their life and the positive benefits they once got from using the drug just don't make up for the negative ones.

If you put your hand on a hot stove and get burnt, it's highly unlikely that you're going to put your hand on that stove again. As humans, we quickly learn that if something hurts us, we shouldn't do it again. Most people who experiment with an illegal drug and only use it once usually had a bad experience - they felt sick, became paranoid, vomited or the like. Not surprisingly, if they had an amazing time, they went back for more!

Cannabis (marijuana, pot or weed) is a widely used drug and most users report pleasurable effects and as a result, continue to use. Although many people who have one, or a couple of bad experiences with the drug will simply stop smoking, others, like you, continue to use despite the very unpleasant effects for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they didn't always get these negative effects and can remember the good times they had when they used to use the drug. As a result, they keep using and hope that they will eventually have the 'old feelings' again and the bad ones will go away. Secondly, they have a group of friends who use cannabis and it has become a part of how they socialise. There is a real fear that if they stop using they will lose their friends. They also believe that because they get these negative effects, they are somehow weak and something is wrong with them and are embarrassed and worried about what their friends will think.

Put simply, there is no way to ensure that you get the 'good' feelings from pot and not any of the bad ones, just as it is with any drug. Some people will never have major problems with cannabis - that is true! It is also important to remember, however, that some people have terrible problems with the drug.

If you smoke cannabis and you are experiencing more negative effects than positive ones, the real deal is that your mind and body are telling you to stop! If you keep using it is a near certainty that the 'bad trips' you describe will get worse. Don't wait for a sign from something or someone else, listen to what your body is telling you!