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Government says Teen Depression Worse With Marijuana

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, May 12, 2008 11:14 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Marijuana, Depression, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Teens, Drug Products

Teens with depression most likely to self medicate with marijuana, White House report says.

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IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto/dark angel series/ depression

 

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says that pot and depression are a bad combination and can lead to further mental health issues such as schizophrenia, anxiety and even suicide. 

A report that analyzes about a dozen studies on pot use entitled “Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows “Self-Medicating” Could Actually Make Things Worse,” finds about two million teens felt depressed at some point during the past year. These are the kids more likely to use marijuana.

The intention of the report is to dispel two assumptions –first – that teen depression is not a problem and that marijuana is safe.

“Marijuana is not the answer. Too many young people are making a bad situation worse by using marijuana in a misguided effort to relieve their symptoms of depression," said John P. Walters, Director, National Drug Control Policy in a statement. 

The White House reports that while pot use among teens is down about 25 percent, it still represents the most frequently used drug, more than all other illicit drugs combined.

Larry Greenhill, president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said at a news conference that “Marijuana available to teenagers in this country has increased tenfold in potency since the 1960s."  

Others in the field point out that that is a long-standing myth.

The report says:

  • Teens who smoke marijuana at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users;
  • Using marijuana can cause depression and other mental illnesses;
  • The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than depressed adults to use marijuana and other illicit drugs;
  • Teen girls who use marijuana daily are more likely to develop depression than girls who do not use marijuana;
  • Depressed teens are also more likely than non-depressed teens to engage in other risky behaviors such as daily cigarette use and heavy alcohol use.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, television host of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab, and an addiction expert, appeared at a White House news conference announcing the report.

He says “Don’t be fooled into thinking that pot is harmless. People are looking for solutions, the solutions become a problem. They are looking for a way to regulate depression and that ends up amplifying their depression.  Abuse of marijuana does have consequences; it can increase instability and thought disturbances such as psychosis.” 

In his clinical experience he says there is a priming experience of the drug. After about three times, teens then say they love and want to reproduce the experience. That’s when they use for years and then turn to other drugs to amplify the experience.  

 “With parents, don’t ever say not my kid. You must stay vigilant,” says Pinsky during the news conference.

Because it’s marijuana means many parents don’t take it seriously. “Our generation of parents has to cast off the anachronism of our experience. Our kids want our help and guidance, they would like our guidance.”

But Bruce Mirken, director of communications at The Marijuana Project, which hopes to remove criminal penalties for marijuana use, says the report is deliberately confusing. 

He tells U.S. News & World Report, "We agree that kids shouldn't smoke marijuana, but we simply have to be honest to teens and parents. This very week the British government's official scientific advisors on illegal drugs issued a report saying they are 'unconvinced that there is a causal relationship between the use of cannabis and any affective disorder,' such as depression."

Mirkin says the report omits any warning about alcohol and depression which is much more likely to be a teens drug of choice.

Interestingly girls are more likely than boys to experience sadness and hopelessness in the year surveyed, and three times as many girls as boys expressed depression in the year.

"Girls who smoke marijuana daily are significantly more likely to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety: Their odds are more than five times higher than those of girls who do not smoke marijuana," the report says.  

No matter what the drug, substance abuse and teen depression often go hand in hand and should not be dismissed as a “phase”.  

Parents should be mindful of the signs of depression in teens. They include:

  • Behavior-moodiness may signal depression or drug use
  • Careless with grooming, changes in behavior and friends, loss of interest in daily activities and withdrawal

Parents must talk to their children if they see signs of drug use or depression.  You are advised to stay involved in your teen's activities and get to know their friends.

Ask questions and know how he or she spends time; make sure there are parents present in the homes your teen visits; set limits about drug use with clear rules and consequences for breaking them.

Family history is the biggest risk factor for mental health problems and substance abuse.

Comments below the U.S. News Report by many teens say they self-medicate with pot to “feel better,” gain an introspective look and make positive changes.   #


2 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Randy
Monday, May 12, 2008 1:59 PM EST

To me this is report is more government bull. Marijuana has many health benefits. One could be acutally fighting depression,anxiety and other diseases. I'd replace marijuan any day over alcohol in the stores to be purchased. Cocaine has medical value also as does other illegal drugs. I wonder at times if I am living in the twilight zone of nutty government reports,behaviors,etc. Sending citizens to war like in Iraq can and will also increase depression(PSTD hear of it?)Locking people up for years for marijuana busts will cause depression. Can anyone but the governmetn and right wing fundamentalists take these reports seriously?

Posted by Teen Drug Abuse Prevention Starts with Parents
Sunday, May 18, 2008 2:17 AM EST

I think it's really important for parents to have a relationship with their teen and try to help them avoid drugs. My childhood friend died from a drug incident and burying my friend really did change my entire outlook on life.

I started a website dedicated to helping parents better understand their teens so that they can truly be more effective parents. It's important for parents to understand what goes on in the teenage world, to make sure their teen is comfortable talking to them about anything, and to really be vigilant about trying to HELP their teens navigate the dangerous world of teen years.

My blog posting below relates to this article and I think it'd really be a helpful resource for parents to better help their teens avoid drug tragedies like that which my childhood friend died from.

I think it's really important for parents to have a relationship with their teen and try to help them avoid drugs. My childhood friend died from a drug incident and burying my friend really did change my entire outlook on life.

I started a website dedicated to helping parents better understand their teens so that they can truly be more effective parents. It's important for parents to understand what goes on in the teenage world, to make sure their teen is comfortable talking to them about anything, and to really be vigilant about trying to HELP their teens navigate the dangerous world of teen years.

My blog posting below relates to this article and I think it'd really be a helpful resource for parents to better help their teens avoid drug tragedies like that which my childhood friend died from.

LINK

Comments for this article are closed.

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