Adolescent Marijuana Users at Greater Risk for Severe Cannabis Use Disorder

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology (2022) examined whether adolescents would be more vulnerable to the associations between cannabis use and mental health and addiction problems than adults. 

Results showed that adolescent cannabis users were more likely to have severe cannabis use disorder (CUD) than adult users. Users reported greater psychotic-like symptoms than controls and adolescents reported greater psychotic-like symptoms than adults.  Exploratory analyses suggested that cannabis users with severe CUD had greater depression and anxiety levels than cannabis users without severe CUD. 

The authors concluded that cannabis harm reduction campaigns should therefore highlight the greater risk of addiction to cannabis during adolescence. 

Based on this study’s findings we’d like to add that adolescent marijuana use prevention programs and campaigns also indicate that youth addiction to cannabis may result in greater depression and anxiety levels. 

We also recommend that a more wholistic and appealing cannabis prevention strategy for youth is to not only highlight the risks of regular and high THC-level cannabis use but also show the health, performance and image-related benefits of practicing health-enhancing and protective lifestyle behaviors. 

These behaviors should include getting daily physical activity, eating a healthy breakfast and other foods every day, getting 8 or more hours of sleep each night and practicing some type of stress control or relaxation strategy most days to both prevent cannabis use and CUD as well as improve physical and mental wellbeing of adolescents.  

Read the entire paper:

The CannTeen Study: Cannabis use disorder, depression, anxiety, and psychotic-like symptoms in adolescent and adult cannabis users and age-matched controls - Will Lawn, Claire Mokrysz, Rachel Lees, Katie Trinci, Kat Petrilli, Martine Skumlien, Anna Borissova, Shelan Ofori, Catherine Bird, Grace Jones, Michael AP Bloomfield, Ravi K Das, Matthew B Wall, Tom P Freeman, H Valerie Curran, 2022 (sagepub.com)

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