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New Year’s Resolution: Stopping pot with world-first cannabis online

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This New Year’s Eve thousands of Australians will have made a resolution to either stop, or at least reduce, their cannabis use. One third of Australians have tried cannabis and it has been estimated that there are at least 200,000 people dependent on cannabis in Australia. The more often a person uses, the more likely they are to become dependent on cannabis. A daily user has a one in two chance of becoming dependent. Unfortunately, many of these people find it extremely difficult to quit, with over two thirds of unassisted attempts to quit or cut down being unsuccessful.

This year, in world first, cannabis users can now access an online treatment program to help them quit or reduce their use of the drug.

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC), based at the University of New South Wales, has recently launched an innovative web-based program based on treatments that have proven to be effective in treating problematic cannabis use, but have previously only been available in face-to-face treatment.

Reduce Your Use: How to Break the Cannabis Habit is the first fully self-guided cannabis treatment program to be made available online. It is made up of six modules which the user can move through at their own pace.

The Centre has a commitment to evidence-based information and interventions and so conducted a study, led by Dr Sally Rooke, to confirm the program’s effectiveness before it was made a freely available website.

“The recently completed randomised controlled trial with 225 participants compared Reduce Your Use to web-based educational information on cannabis. We found that the Reduce Your Use program helped people to significantly reduce their cannabis use and dependence level compared to online education alone,” said Dr Rooke.

A key feature of the program is that it is highly personalised and offers participants individual advice and feedback as they progress through the six module program.

It is hoped that making treatment available online will encourage more people experiencing problems with their cannabis use to seek help.

“Having an online treatment program for cannabis use, such as Reduce Your Use, helps remove some of the barriers that often prevent people from seeking assistance,” said Professor Jan Copeland, Director of NCPIC.

“Some of the barriers we have identified include a lack of awareness that tailored cannabis treatment is available, stigma, cost, difficulty taking time off work and/or family responsibilities during business hours, limited access to services in some areas, and transport issues. If this resource can remove just one of these barriers for a person experiencing problems with cannabis, it will be a valuable addition to the range of cannabis treatment approaches that are available.”

The Reduce Your Use website can be accessed at: www.reduceyouruse.org.au

NCPIC is an Australian Government initiative supported by the Department of Health and Ageing.

Cannabis Information and Helpline – 1800 30 40 50
NCPIC website – www.ncpic.org.au

Contact Details:
Morag Millington, tel. (02) 9385 0213, 0431 981 046 email: m.millington@unsw.edu.au
Paul Dillon, tel. (02) 9385 0226, 0419 402 099 email p.dillon@unsw.edu.au
Date Issued: 2 January 2013

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