A Cheshire teenager, who says years of cannabis use made him paranoid and caused him to have extreme panic attacks, is reminding young people about the drug’s dangers, which he feels are often overlooked.
Sixteen-year-old ‘Rick’, whose real name has not been used, began taking the drug at the age of 11.
But after developing mental health issues, he decided to kick the habit two and half years ago and is now urging young people not to make the same mistakes.
‘It was like a normal thing at first, something I did with friends. But then I started to get paranoid and began to think that people were after me,' explains Rick.
‘I didn’t even want to sleep at night – worried that I might not wake up.
‘Many people just think that cannabis is a social drug, but they underestimate the effects it can have. It’s my mission to educate more people about these dangers and show them it’s not worth throwing your life away.’
With Fixers, Rick and his team have helped to create a short film, which looks at the potential long-term consequences of cannabis use.
Loosely based on his own life, it shows the central character describing his experiences to a support worker before asking a hard-hitting question to the audience: ‘Is this what you want?’
Watch the film ‘Effects of Cannabis’ at the top of this page.
‘The film is very powerful,’ says Rick.
‘Being young, I know what it's like to want to try different things and not look weak in front of your friends.
'But taking cannabis is a downward slope and I hope the film helps more young people realise that.’
Rick plans on sending the film to local secondary schools as he feels students in this age range are more likely to experiment with drugs.
‘It was a big step for me telling someone about the way I was feeling,’ he adds.
‘But if I had seen a film like this when I was in school, then I probably would never have taken drugs in the first place.
‘Hopefully now it can have the same impact on others.’
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Jade Clement is warning young people about
the dangers of smoking cannabis. Watch her TV story.