Teen Cannabis Use Tied to Harmful Substance Use Later — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 8, 2017

Teen Cannabis Use Tied to Harmful Substance Use Later

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

Teens who use cannabis even occasionally are more likely to misuse other drugs and alcohol in early adulthood, according to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Over 5300 U.K. adolescents answered questions on cannabis use several times between ages 13 and 18 and then were followed up at age 21. Roughly 80% were cannabis nonusers as teens, 17% were occasional users, and 3% were regular users (at least once weekly).

After adjustment for demographics, conduct problems, and early alcohol and tobacco use, cannabis use in adolescence was associated with harmful substance use later. Substance use rates at age 21 according to teen cannabis use were as follows:

  • Nicotine dependence:1% of cannabis nonusers versus roughly 5% of occasional users and 21% of regular users

  • Harmful alcohol consumption: 8% of cannabis nonusers versus 28%–43% of occasional users and 24% of regular users

  • Other illicit drug use:14% of cannabis nonusers versus 83% of occasional users and 94% of regular users

Reader Comments (4)

John Gray MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, GNMC

A much larger and longer (20+ yrs) Australian/NZ published last year showed 8-16 fold severe lifestyle difficulties for regular teen marijuana users by age 30-35. Another study showed diagnostic brain changes on MRI for teens who used marijuana regularly. These are very nonreassuring studies for a drug that many are promoting for easy use.

Susan Scher Other

What is posted here gives no reason to think the correlation is in any way causal. It seems quite reasonable to me to assume that the personality type that would use marijuana is that which would use alcohol and other drugs.

To assume pot is a gateway drug is very similar to assuming soda is a gateway "drug" to alcohol.

Richard Haber MD Physician, Pediatrics/Adolescent Medicine, Montreal Children's Hospital

Prime Minister Trudeau who plans on legalizing marijuana needs to view this!!

Dr michael d murray Physician, Critical Care Medicine, glasgow

I'm afraid this hardly comes as a surprise. I can hire the drug promoter's attacks on this research and what about alcohol. Alcohol is terrible and an accidental legal drug. However it is an important study for people promoting cannabis.

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