STA, 26 June 2020 - The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) has highlighted on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse the problem of widespread cannabis use among Slovenian adolescents. An international study places Slovenia among the countries with the highest shares of 15-year-olds using cannabis.
The institute pointed to the 2018 HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children WHO collaborative cross-national survey) report that showed an average of 13% of 15-year-olds in the 45 participating countries have already used cannabis. The share for Slovenia is 21%, which ranks the country 7th, the NIJZ said.
Slovenia fares even worse when it comes to 15-year-olds who have used cannabis in the 30 days before being quizzed for the survey. The international average is 7%, while it is 13% in Slovenia, which places the country only behind Canada and Bulgaria.
The NIJZ listed relative ease of access as one of the reasons for widespread use of cannabis among Slovenian youngsters. The survey has half of the 15-year-old Slovenian respondents assessing they could obtain cannabis easily or very easily within 24 hours.
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The institute stressed the importance of preventive activities, such as equipping young people with proper social, emotional and behavioural skills, and measures aimed at reducing access to drugs, while stressing the use of cannabis among young people is harmful for brain development.
"Research has shown that with children and youngsters cannabinoids affect the development of the part of the brain responsible for the processing of received information and for thought processes helping solve problems and taking decisions. With regular use, these capacities are reduced, especially for those who start using this drug before the age of 18," Ada Hočevar Grom of the NIJZ warned.
Moreover, some research links the use of cannabis to poorer school performance and to the increased risk of the abuse of other drugs and addiction.