Marijuana is a popular drug in America. The legalization of cannabis for medical purposes by more than half of the U.S. states, coupled with the misconception that weed smoking does no harm, has led to the rampant use of the drug across the nation, especially among adolescents. Now, a new study has found that the increasing tendency to use the drug by teenagers may result in higher depression rates and lesser inclination to excel in studies by the time they reach adulthood.
For the study published in the journal Addiction in July 2017, researchers examined 158 boys and young men from Pittsburgh. The respondents had earlier participated in the Pitt Mother & Child Project (PMCP) that was carried out to evaluate males, who are at potentially higher risk of exhibiting anti-social behavior and other psychological disorders.
Examining escalating marijuana use since adolescence
The researchers assessed the prevalence of marijuana consumption among adolescents in the age group of 14-19 years to understand the association between use of the drug during the teenage years and impact on their behavior. They observed that the participants who had started frequenting cannabis use when they were roughly 15 or 16 years old and had increased their quota by the time they turned 19 suffered from a greater level of impairment in the brain reward circuitry. Besides greater proclivity to live with depression, low level of education, was also observed.
At age 20, the respondents self-reported about their yearly marijuana consumption since they had first initiated the use of the drug. The researchers scanned each respondent’s brain by making use of fMRI to determine functional connectivity in the reward circuit of the brain. The participants filled out the questionnaires at ages 20 and 22 years that helped the authors analyze the psychosocial outcomes. Elucidating the observations, lead author Dr. Erika Forbes said, “We expected to see that the young men who had a high, consistent level of marijuana use would have differences in brain function. However, it turned out that those who had an increasing pattern of use over their teens had the biggest differences.”
The findings are significant as they show that cannabis use during teenage years has adverse outcomes like reduced educational accomplishments and depression in adulthood. According to the authors, the results highlight that understanding pot use across the whole period of adolescence may reveal a lot more about severe long-term impacts than knowing about overall or one-time use.
Road to recovery
The findings do not pinpoint at any causal relationship between marijuana use and adverse psychosocial outcomes, though they do hint at a possible association between the two. As marijuana use raises the risk of depression, it is necessary that physicians screen depressed patients for possible marijuana use to understand the potential reasons of their emotional disorders.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 22 million Americans aged 12 or older were using marijuana in 2015. However, addiction to marijuana can be treated. Sovereign Health’s Rancho San Diego adolescent treatment program combines CBT, group and individual therapies for helping teens with depression. Our therapy for teenage depression commences with a detailed patient assessment. Our clinicians assess each patient for all outward and underlying conditions. Based on this assessment, they construct a treatment program tailored to meet the patient’s individual needs. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives for more information about our treatment center for American teens.