Depression in teens drives them to cannabis use in later adolescence

Depression in teens drives them to cannabis use in later adolescence

Depression is a common mental health condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Between 2005 and 2015, major depressive episodes among young American adults ages 18 to 25 have grown from 8.8 percent to 10.3 percent. While several studies have ascribed depression as an outcome of traumatic life events like rape, violence, war, terminal illness, bullying, etc., substance abuse is also a prime cause of it.

A recent study illustrated that early and frequent use of cannabis is associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as suicidal thoughts. Although substances like alcohol, heroin, and opiates have got enough limelight in the context of causing substantial damages to the brain, there is scant information regarding the impairment caused by marijuana. While various studies find cannabis as a major cause of psychosis, the link associated with depression, suicide or suicidal ideation is less explored and identified.

However, in recent times, the association between cannabis use and depression has managed to grab some attention, with experts considering it as a serious concern among young adults and vice versa.

Early intervention for depression in youth may reduce cannabis abuse

A study — conducted by UW Medicine researchers and published in the journal Addiction — investigating the cumulative effects of depression in youth, tried to assess the link between cannabis and depression. The study authors found that young people enduring chronic or severe forms of depression were at a higher risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

The researchers recruited 521 participants from four Seattle public middle schools and evaluated them based on interviews. They had also used annual assessments data of the students when they were aged 12-15 and then again when they were 18.

Isaac Rhew, lead author and a research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, said that preventing or reducing chronic depression during early adolescence may help in reducing the prevalence of cannabis use disorder. Talking about the prevalence of cannabis use over the decades, the researchers noted that current cannabis use has surpassed tobacco with respect to the prevalence of use among adolescents.

Incidentally, cannabis and alcohol are the two most commonly used substances by youths in the U.S., especially among young adults. The researchers were surprised to find 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.

Furthermore, researchers said that it would give more insight if a similar kind of study is conducted in a state where the cannabis laws are stricter. This would help in understanding the association between depression and cannabis misuse in areas where marijuana is less accessible.

Way to recovery

Substance abuse can bring about serious alterations in the brain, directly or indirectly affecting its neurotransmitters. While most of them force the reward chemicals to flood the pathways, a few others mimic the receptors in the brain.

When it comes to quitting drugs, most people decide to quit it cold turkey. Whether it is nicotine, alcohol or other harmful drugs, they believe that they can easily get rid of a substance by simply stopping its use. However, when a person is physically dependent on medications, drugs or alcohol, their body gets adapted to the substance and needs it to function properly. The sudden stopping of the substance increases the risk of developing brain damage, heart palpitations, seizures, and a multitude of other effects that may result in hospitalization or even death. Hence, expert intervention becomes necessary.

If you or your loved one has developed an addiction to any substance, contact the California Detox Helpline to access the finest addiction treatment centers in California that specialize in delivering the best treatments based on holistic evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-780-2495 or chat online with our experts to know more about detox and rehab centers in California.

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