Marijuana addiction linked to many mental health problems

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In a new study, researchers found that people with a history of cannabis dependence are much less likely to be in excellent mental health.

They are much more likely to have some form of mental illness or substance dependence compared to those who have never been dependent on cannabis.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Toronto.

More than 1% of Canadians have been dependent on cannabis at some point in their lives.

Despite the fact that marijuana use is expected to grow with the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, little research has focused on factors associated with recovery from addiction.

The study compared 336 Canadians with a history of cannabis dependence to 20,441 who had never been addicted to the substance.

The data were drawn from Statistics Canada’s 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

The findings showed that for many adults, a history of cannabis dependence casts a very long shadow, with a wide range of associated negative mental health outcomes.

More than a quarter (28%) of those with a history of cannabis dependence were still dependent on cannabis, while almost one-half (47%) had some form of mental illness or substance dependence, compared to only 8% among those without a history of cannabis dependence.

Overall, 74% of those without a history of dependence was in excellent mental health, while only 43% of those with a history of dependence was.

To be considered in excellent mental health, people had to report: 1) almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month, 2) high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month, and 3) freedom from all forms of substance dependence, depressive and generalized anxiety disorder and serious suicidal thoughts for at least the preceding full year.

Social support was strongly linked to remission from cannabis attendance and achieving excellent mental health.

In addition, women with a history of cannabis dependence were more likely than men to be in remission and to have excellent mental health.

The study also found that with each decade of age, adults had double the likelihood of achieving both remission and excellent mental health.

Previous research indicates that among cannabis users, dependence is high. A 2013 nationally representative US study found that almost one-third (31%) of current cannabis users were cannabis dependent.

The lead author of the study is Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW).

The study is published in the Advances in Preventive Medicine.

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