Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017 by Bobbi Nodell 
cannabis
Cannabis indica. Credit: Wikipedia

A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

The study led by UW Medicine researchers interviewed 521 students recruited from four Seattle public middle schools. Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12-15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.

"The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder," said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

What researchers called "a 1 standard deviation increase" in cumulative depression during was associated with a 50 percent higher likelihood of cannabis-use disorder.

According to researchers, during the past decade cannabis has surpassed tobacco with respect to prevalence of use among adolescents. Cannabis and alcohol are the two most commonly used substances among youth in the United States. They pointed to one national study showing increases in prevalence of cannabis use disorder and in the United States, especially among young adults.

Longitudinal studies looking at the link between depression and later use of alcohol and cannabis, however, have been mixed. Some show a link. Others don't. But most studies have assessed adolescent depression at a single point in time - not cumulatively, said the researchers. Further, there have been differences in how substance use has been measured ranging from the initiation of any use to heavier problematic forms of use.

The study oversampled for students with depressive and/or conduct problems. The researchers were surprised to see that the prevalence of cannabis and alcohol use disorder in this study was notably higher than national estimates with 21 percent meeting criteria for cannabis use disorder and 20 percent meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder at age 18.

What effect the easing of marijuana laws in Washington state had on the youth is unclear. Researchers said it would be informative to conduct a similar study in a state with more strict marijuana laws to understand whether the relationship between depression and cannabis misuse would still hold in areas where marijuana may be less accessible.

The age 18 substance abuse assessments occurred between 2007-2010. Washington state legalized medical cannabis in 1998 and its medical cannabis market expanded greatly after 2009 when the federal justice department issued a ruling known as the Ogden Memo. And in 2003, the city of Seattle made offenses the lowest enforcement priority for police and the city attorney.

Explore further: Do medical marijuana laws promote illicit cannabis use and disorder?

More information: Isaac C. Rhew et al. Examination of cumulative effects of early adolescent depression on cannabis and alcohol use disorder in late adolescence in a community-based cohort, Addiction (2017). DOI: 10.1111/add.13907

Related Stories

Do medical marijuana laws promote illicit cannabis use and disorder?

April 26, 2017
Illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders increased at a greater rate in states that passed medical marijuana laws than in other states, according to new research at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health ...

Study finds legal cannabis laws impact teen use

June 27, 2017
A new study by researchers at Dartmouth has found that adolescents living in medical marijuana states with a plethora of dispensaries are more likely to have tried new methods of cannabis use, such as edibles and vaping, ...

Rates of marijuana use, heavy use, and cannabis use disorder depend on where you live

June 15, 2017
Adult marijuana use rose significantly in states that passed loosely regulated medical marijuana laws (MMLs) according to a new study by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical ...

Marijuana could help treat drug addiction, mental health

November 16, 2016
Using marijuana could help some alcoholics and people addicted to opioids kick their habits, a UBC study has found.

Study finds link between teen cannabis use and illicit drug use in early adulthood

June 7, 2017
One in five adolescents at risk of tobacco dependency, harmful alcohol consumption and illicit drug use:

Study adds to evidence that high strength cannabis is associated with an increased risk of becoming dependent

October 22, 2016
New data presented at this year's International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, Italy (20-22 October) adds to accumulating evidence that high-potency cannabis in associated with an increased risk of users ...

Recommended for you

Medical students need training to prescribe medical marijuana

September 15, 2017
Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, few medical students are being trained how to prescribe the drug. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis ...

Protein links alcohol abuse and changes in brain's reward center

September 8, 2017
When given access to alcohol, over time mice develop a pattern similar to what we would call "problem drinking" in people, but the brain mechanisms that drive this shift have been unclear. Now a team of UC San Francisco researchers ...

11 minutes of mindfulness training helps drinkers cut back

August 24, 2017
Brief training in mindfulness strategies could help heavy drinkers start to cut back on alcohol consumption, finds a new UCL study.

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.