Breadcrumb Trail Links
Those who first used cannabis or prescription drugs between 12 and 17 years of age were at a higher risk of becoming dependent within a year than those between 18 and 25 years of age.
Author of the article:
Photo by Getty Images
“This study provides further evidence that delaying exposure to substances until the brain is fully developed can lower the risk of developing a substance use disorder,” advises Dr. Volkow on the results published in JAMA Pediatrics this week.
“Research has shown that the development of the brain continues well into a person’s 20s and that the age at which medication was taken is a very important risk factor for developing addiction,” said Emily Einstein, Ph.D., director of science policy at NIDA and co-study author. Citing the importance of drug use prevention and screening, Einsten suggests that “timely treatment and support for young people who need them must be a public health priority”.
As part of the study, NIDA researchers analyzed data from the nationally representative national surveys 2015 to 2018 on drug use and health. They determined how many people between the ages of 12 and 17 and how many between the ages of 18 and 25 had a substance use disorder in the past year, and identified the first-time use or abuse of nine drugs: tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine , Methamphetamine, heroin, and the prescription drugs opioids, stimulants, and sedatives that are not used medicinally.
Investigators then rated disorders from the previous year 12 months or less after the first drug use. with more than 12 months but less than 24; with more than 24 months but less than 36; and after more than 36 months.
Photo by Shidlovski / iStock / Getty Images Plus
“The researchers found that the prevalence of cannabis use disorder in adolescents over the past year was higher than in young adults for all periods studied since they first used the drug,” the NIH statement said.
Within 12 months of first using cannabis, 10.7 percent of adolescents had developed a substance use disorder, compared with 6.4 percent of young adults.
“One in ten teenagers has a marijuana addiction – that’s huge,” Volkow reportedly told Bloomberg. Using cannabis also gives them a higher chance of becoming dependent on other drugs later, she said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The researchers also found higher levels of substance use disorders at any point in time for non-medical use of prescription drugs in adolescents compared to young adults.
With opioids, the development of a related use disorder within 12 months – in 11.2 percent in adolescents and 6.9 percent in young adults – roughly matched the percentages for weeds, according to study data.
However, the biggest gap within 12 months of first prescription drug abuse was in stimulant use disorders. Overall, 13.9 percent of teenagers had the associated disorder compared to 3.9 percent of young adults.
Photo by monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Overall, according to Addiction Professional, those who first used weed during puberty had “double the prevalence of substance use disorder as users of nicotine, alcohol and prescription drug abusers in most categories of users”.
The higher prevalence of substance use disorders in adolescents within 12 months of onset for both cannabis and prescription abuse suggests a “relationship between a faster transition to substance use disorders and a young initiation age,” according to Addiction Professional.
The results “emphasize the susceptibility of young people to developing substance use disorders,” the NIH statement said. The agency further reports that the data excluded those incarcerated or homeless who did not live in shelters, “possibly underestimating the prevalence of substance use disorders in the results”.
Although potency wasn’t addressed in the study, the results published in Addiction last year may state that weeds can be up to 25 percent stronger today than they were in the 1970s. That has raised some alarms about the potential harm associated with highly potent cannabis.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, recently commented on a separate recent study that looked at whether licensing medical cannabis in a U.S. state or setting up pharmacies linked more young people who will consume weeds.
The study data from 46 states clearly showed that “Access to medical cannabis can be regulated in a way that is safe, effective and does not inadvertently affect young people’s habits. These findings should reassure politicians and others that the real world experiences of states with the distribution of medical cannabis are a success from both a public health and a public safety perspective, ”Armentano said.
We apologize, but this video could not be loaded.
Subscribe to Weekend Dispensary, a new weekly newsletter from The GrowthOp.