Teens turn to marijuana to self-medicate for stress, anxiety: report

Global News 5 February 2017
Family First Comment: “Cannabis is often regarded as an “innocuous” drug, a 2001 report in the British Journal of Psychiatry notes. However, evidence shows it carries dependency risks and other adverse effects, “particularly among people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders.””

The teen years are a high-stress, often anxiety riddled time, and research shows that young Canadians admit to turning to marijuana to cope.

Nicole* was 13 when she began using marijuana. She said at first she smoked pot due to peer pressure, but then she realized it offered her an “escape.”

“Since I was young I’ve suffered severe social anxiety which has only gotten worse,” said Nicole said in a message to Global News.

Nicole’s story is not unusual. A new study based on cross-country focus groups found that teens are turning to marijuana to self-medicate. But experts worry they don’t always know all the risks.

“There’s this disconnect between what the scientific research shows and the thoughts and perceptions among young people,” said Amy Porath, director of research and policy at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

The study also found that young people tend to think cannabis is not addictive, and think it’s OK to drive after smoking, Porath noted.

Adverse health effects

There is growing acceptance around using marijuana, for both recreational and medicinal purposes, as Canada moves to legalization. But smoking in youth carries greater, long-term risks.

“Young people are vulnerable as a group as well because of their ongoing brain development. Until about 20 to 25, their brains are still undergoing significant maturation and development,” said Porath.

A minimum age of 18 for access to marijuana was a key recommendation of a federal task force looking at legalization.

“The later people start using cannabis … the better,” Dr. Jürgen Rehm, director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) told Global News in December.

Cannabis is often regarded as an “innocuous” drug, a 2001 report in the British Journal of Psychiatry notes. However, evidence shows it carries dependency risks and other adverse effects, “particularly among people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders.”
READ MORE: http://globalnews.ca/news/3225901/teens-turn-to-marijuana-to-self-medicate-for-stress-anxiety-report/

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