teen_cannabis

Is Adolescent Daily Cannibis Comsumption Harmless or Harmful

Within my practice, I’m often exposed to adolescent’s who have referred themselves due to experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression.  At the time of assessment, the teen often describes feeling irritable, anxious, lacks motivation and quiet often their parents and teachers are concerned about their declining school attendance and academic performance.  One of the first questions that the teen is asked is,  “Do you smoke cannabis”?  More often than not, the teen discloses that they participate in daily cannabis consumption in order to alleviate stress.

Despite being illegal, historically, cannabis has been viewed as a harmless innocuous drug that is used for recreational purposes amongst teens.  Over time, through frequent consumption, an individual can become addicted and require daily usage to achieve results.  Within the last 10 years, researchers have begun to identify correlations between chronic cannabis consumption and mental health difficulties such as, anxiety, depression and in some cases schizophrenia.  Patton et al (2002) conducted a longitudinal study on adolescents in Australia and concluded that adolescents that are chronic cannabis users were 5 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety and depression compared to their peers who didn’t consume the drug.  Another group of researchers have suggested that teens already genetically predisposed to develop schizophrenia; cannabis consumption may cause an irreversible psychotic episode, Vans Os et al (2004).  Despite that research is currently suggesting a causal relationship between adolescent, chronic, cannabis use and mental illness in early adulthood; it is still difficult to conclude that teens usage is due to self medication to alleviate mental health symptoms or does smoking cannabis cause mental health symptoms.  Regardless, the fact that your teen is chronically consuming a substance to alleviate stress, is a sign that something is wrong.

 

Some Warning Signs that your child is smoking cannabis:

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Unexplained sudden extreme hunger

  • An apathetic attitude such as; grades are slipping, no longer wanting to participate in organized extra curricular activities and skipping school.

  • Appears spaced out, trouble concentrating, carrying on a linear conversation and an increase in giggling

  • Items or money missing from the house

  • An odd smell on clothes

  • Paraphernalia such as rolling papers, little scissors, pipes, bongs.

 

What to do as a parent if you believe your child is smoking cannabis:

  • Don’t panic, don’t overreact, calmly ask them.  If they deny it, and you continue to suspect that they are.  Consult with your family doctor or a mental health therapist.

  • Educate them on the current risk factors in regards to the correlation between mental health difficulties and consumption.

  • Attempt to get them involved in a recreational activity that they enjoy or would like to try with the intent to teach them that their are other healthy ways to de-stress.

 

References: 

Patton, GC et al. Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study examination of the evidence.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 184: 110-117, 2004.

Vans Os et al. (Dec. 2004) Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis and psychotic symptoms in young people., British Medical Journal, 1, 330

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