OCT 19, 2017 06:18 AM PDT

Teens With Depression at Risk for Cannabis Addiction

The issue of marijuana use and brain development has been hotly debated as more states move to legalize pot. Medicinal uses for the drug are not uncommon, and some states have legalized medical marijuana, but have not allowed full recreational use.

The one area that remains a concern, however, is the use of pot by young people. The brain is not fully developed until well after the teenage years. Some experts suggest that brain development continues into the early twenties, so the use of any mind-altering substance by teenagers is a concern.

A new study from the University of Washington—Seattle looked at the relationship between depression in young people and a problem with cannabis use later in life. Researchers interviewed a total of 521 students from public middle schools in the Seattle area. Interviews took place annually when the children were between 12 and 15 years old. The students were followed up with at the age of 18 as well. Previous studies have been done on the link between depression and pot use. However, most of those studies assessed depression at a single point. The study done in Seattle used a cumulative count of depression symptoms. They based this count on the interviews leading up to the age of 18 as well as how the participants presented at the follow-up.

Isaac Rhew is the lead author of the study and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UW. He explained, "The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder." The study showed that just a "one standard deviation increase in cumulative depression" could raise the likelihood of developing an addiction to pot by as much as 50%.

Depression is a very real concern for this age group. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health major depression is becoming a public health issue for teenagers in the United States. The NIMH's most recent figures for 2015 showed that close to 3 million young people aged between 12 and 17 had suffered a "major depressive episode." That's roughly 12% of all teens.

Along with the increase in depression, the use of marijuana has gone up in this age group as well. Pot and tobacco cigarettes were the two most common substances used by teens, but that is changing. In the past ten years pot has moved into the number one spot, with usage numbers surpassing that of ordinary tobacco. Alcohol use in this age group is up as well.

The study is just one out of several studies, and the results are often inconclusive. This is likely because there is no standard for "substance use." Some studies considered any use, even a one time trial and other studies looked at participants who had heavier or problematic use of pot.

The study was conducted during the years 2007-2010. In 1998 medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Washington and in 2003 the Seattle police department classified marijuana possession or use as the lowest priority for enforcement. The team at UW noted that a study done in a state where there are stricter laws on pot use would be a good way to see if the correlation holds even in a state where weed is less available.

The video below talks more about the link.

Sources: University of Washington, Addiction, KNKX-NPR, NIMH 

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
SEP 05, 2018
Cardiology
SEP 05, 2018
Stroke Doubles Risk of Dementia
History or recent stroke can double the risk of dementia....
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
The Science of Being Transgender
Gender identity is an issue that some have trouble understanding. It’s not always about male or female, because gender can encompass more than those...
OCT 16, 2018
Neuroscience
OCT 16, 2018
Your brain tells if a placebo can treat pain
Placebo effect and predicting when a particular subject will have a placebo response by using as little as psychological questionnaires....
NOV 01, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 01, 2018
How baroreceptors do blood pressure sensing
mechanical changes in the blood vessels is communicated to brain via mechanosensitive Piezo ion channels...
NOV 13, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
NOV 13, 2018
A Lighthouse Named Biomarker
Lighthouses are used to warn ships not to crash inland. Virgil was sent in to guide Dante through Hell. Marge Simpson, Homer’s better half oversees h...
NOV 12, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 12, 2018
Role Of Choroid Plexus Protein Klotho In Aging
Inflammaging, describes the increase in an inflammatory alteration in the brain, due to aging and predicts the morbidity and mortality in older humans....
Loading Comments...