Heavy Teenage Cannabis Use Linked with Anxiety Disorders in Late 20s

Photo: Burning joint, Czech Republic (CC)

Newly published findings by the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne and published in Addiction show that heavy marijuana use by teenagers is likely to result in later adult anxiety disorders.

From the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia’s site:

Those who used frequently in their teens and continued to use on a daily basis at the age of 29 were three times as likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with non- or infrequent users. Those who used minimally in their teens but became daily users in their late 20s were two and a half times as likely to have an anxiety disorder. But the really striking finding say the authors is the persistent association between frequent teenage cannabis use and adult anxiety disorders up to a decade after cannabis use has ceased. The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety disorders was present even after the researchers took into account other possible explanations such as mental health problems in their teens or other drug use in their twenties.

This study resonates quite personally for me, and is a theme running through Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood.

An excerpt from the book can be found here where  I describe the very first time I got stoned and how it seemed, in fact, I was finally getting relief from my adolescent anxiety:

The weed had chipped away those fissures in my inner mind that were ready to crumble. There were hidden passages on the other side that I had already glimpsed briefly in occult discourses, Tolkien’s imagined world, and even Rush lyrics. Small auditory hallucinations matched perfectly the movement of my hands if I waved them in front of me. New ideas and inspirations burst forth like Roman candles. Everything, everything, was filled to overflowing with significance.

The study’s lead author Professor George Patton goes on to say:

“During the teen years the parts of the brain that are involved in managing emotions are still developing rapidly and it is highly possible that heavy cannabis use at this sensitive point could have long lasting effects.”

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)


35 Comments on "Heavy Teenage Cannabis Use Linked with Anxiety Disorders in Late 20s"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Aug 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

    Well, “yah!”

    Having some three hundred pound douchebag break down your door at 3:00 am and threatening you at gunpoint with 5 years in the hole for smoking a jay just might rattle your nerves a bit.

  2. Oskorei123 | Aug 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

    I feel that my heavy prolonged use, 10+years, has definitely led to anxiety, and stress related issues.  I used to be a very outgoing, center of attention type of guy who was comfortable around anyone.  Now, I can barely go out, I stress constantly about having marijuana, and I can’t imagine life without it.  I feel that it has made me extremely self conscience, shy, and just not the person I was, or could have grown to be. 

    • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

      Jesus saves.

    •  And is this because of marijuana use, or marijuana laws? How much anxiety would you really have if you could blaze it on your front porch without fear of recriminations?

    • Ceausescu | Aug 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

        It’s your brain, not the substance.

      Marijuana should be taken seriously and be used as a catalyst towards a mental evolution.

      It should be used to awake your consciousness, not repress it.

      If you consume marijuana mindlessly, you’re harming yourself in the long run.

      I’m not saying that marijuana should not be used for “fun”, but this should not be the priority.

  3. The authors write that they cannot rule out the possibility that
    the factors that predispose people to use cannabis early also put them
    at risk for common mental disorders.

    “These common factors might include biological, personality, social and
    environmental factors, or a combination of these factors. This is a
    plausible hypothesis because social disadvantage is more common among
    persons who are problematic substance users and who meet criteria for
    common mental disorders,” they write.”

    [from the end of the article]

    • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

      Yeah, I love the 2-volume caveats and addenda that render the whole study an exercise in spending the surplus departmental budget by the end of the fiscal year.

  4. Being in your late 20’s and realizing you live in a giant outdoor insane asylum is linked to anxiety, not Marijuana.

    • flamingjazzwitch | Aug 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

      blaming cannabis for everything seems the greater anxiety disorder,
      the reefer madness continues!

  5. Anarchy Pony | Aug 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    Linked to =/= Causes.

    • Simiantongue | Aug 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

      Exactly. In that case you can link just about anything to anxiety disorders. Tenuous at best.

      The headline just wouldn’t read the same if it said “People who use cannabis early are also predisposed to common mental health problems decades later”. That wouldn’t give the impression of “Linked to =/= Cuases” that they want.

      In the article it acknowledges that is equally likely. Which is a barely perceptible nod to objectivity in the UNSW write up, that point is short and buried in the article. Headlines are what counts.

      Probably has something to do with the fact that it’s the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, yes THAT Murdoch family. Would any other interpretation of the research be allowed I wonder?

      • Anarchy Pony | Aug 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

        So how long til that fucker Murdoch just basically owns all the media?

        • Simiantongue | Aug 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

           Don’t have to own it all. The ability to purchase enough influence in key places to be able to put forward whatever ideological agenda they support is all that’s required and they have that already.

          The rest is not directly aimed at your comment but just some more thoughts I had about this.

          What’s more troubling to me is the corruption of supposed objective science. True enough that there was a correlation established between early cannabis smokers and higher rates of anxiety disorders later. But any good scientist will point out the fallacy that correlation is not causation. Though you couldn’t tell by the UNSW write up. In fact that’s the distinct impression they’re going for, that correlation is causation. Somewhat disingenuous if you ask me.

          • Simiantongue | Aug 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

             They may as well have said they found a correlation between people who wear Bob Marley T shirts and an increase in anxiety disorders in later life. For whatever that’s worth.

            It’s just a little sneaky that they put two seemingly related pieces of information together. That changes are found in the formative stages of brain development and cannabis use. Also that there is a correlation between young cannabis users and an increase in anxiety disorders.

            Which is fine but they’re leading people down the garden path to draw their own conclusions about two seemingly related pieces of information. But where is the causation between the formative changes caused by cannabis use and and increase in anxiety disorders? I guarantee if they had found such evidence then it would be in the study.  Instead they leave it to the reader to draw the inference by putting those two tidbits close together in the article.

            Later if there is any question of scientific integrity, well, “we never said that’. heh. No it doesn’t say that, but they did take readers down the garden path as it were.

            Replying to me again lol. But I like talking to me I’m good company.

  6. It was the anxious fish that first crawled onto land. . .

  7. Teenagers shouldn’t be using any drugs or powerful herbs.  Unfortunately I too smoked moderately in highschool, however I would say my high anxiety days were from 6-18.  Now as a 29 year old (who still smokes once per month), I am less anxious and outgoing; so perhaps the amount I smoked in high school wasn’t enough to do any damage.   All this report says to me, is that we need to legalize it and only allow those 21 and up to smoke it (that way there are no dealers selling directly to minors).

    •  The problem is, likely you were to drawn to those substances to an undercurrent of anxiety disorders that had not fully expressed themselves but from which you were seeking release.
      Likely the same marijuana use in a proper caring and supportive environment without the threat of police assault and homosexual rape in prison, the marijuana would have been the curative you were subconsciously seeking, rather than failing due to the psychological environment in which is was consumed.
      Is the drug the cause of anxiety or is the anxiety already present and the clearly insane criminal justice the true root cause of the exacerbation of symptoms.
      Honestly who believes the threat of no knock armed assaults, where the slightest wrong twitch can result in death, is psychologically helpful.
      Who believes that the threat of homosexual rape, contaminated foods, use of electro and chemical weapons as torture and, that habitation should be as brutal as possible to cynically punitively punish non-conformity.

    • I have no freaking idea how I would have made it to the age of 21 without a doob. If you were a lawmaker and you enforced that rule when I was 16, I would have been dead by twenty from chronic depression and anxiety. Sorry to be so dramatic, but I’m trying to demonstrate that you can’t enforce these across-the-board rules without jepordising somebody. These things should be case-by-case basis.

  8. The Baffler | Aug 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm |


    • damnadamzama | Aug 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

      So true, pharma-industrial complex wants to extrapolate your soul from your ass whilst pilfering cash from your wallet and your physique from your frame.

      • Alexander | Oct 16, 2012 at 4:41 am |

        yep, totally true. better grow your own plant somehow. self sustaining is the way to go. i bought some seeds in spring from http://www.royalqueenseeds.com and have successfully grown 2 plants. this is fantastic as now i never have to deal with skeptic doctors anymore.

      • Alexander | Oct 16, 2012 at 4:41 am |

        yep, totally true. better grow your own plant somehow. self sustaining is the way to go. i bought some seeds in spring from http://www.royalqueenseeds.com and have successfully grown 2 plants. this is fantastic as now i never have to deal with skeptic doctors anymore.

  9. I’m glad to see that most commentors see through this trash.  Correlation is not causation, that’s stats 101.

    The fact that these individuals CHOSE (rather than it being administered in a double-blind scenario and with a control group) to use marijuana or not in adolescence drastically changes the “conclusions” that can be drawn from the study.  These researchers took some flying leaps.Doesn’t it make sense that individuals with a predisposition towards anxiety are more likely to self-medicate than those that don’t?Fools.Studies like this just prevent the dominant culture from looking for deeper systemic causes of mental illness. 

  10. odd how one can generally predict the conclusion of a marijuana study based on its funding. 

  11. MoralDrift | Aug 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

    so be it, i love mary jane and she loves me

  12. findings by the Centre for Adolescent Health at
    the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne

    nuf said

  13. Aren’t there a lot of people who smoke marijuana in the first place because it calms anxiety? 

    • TruthVybes | Aug 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

       I think everyone has their own way of dealing with it; for instance I’ll smoke marijuana for a few weeks and then quit for the following two. Maybe I’m stupid because I can’t comprehend why the medias make such scapegoat of Mary Jane from all other substances (everything man-made for that matter). It’s obviously about the money yet it’s still banned. Why can’t we discuss the problems with the rich getting richer instead of some plant whose use is inevitable. Teach a child not to mess with fire and they’ll do it anyway cause it’s meant to f*cking happen. This whole anti-‘drug’ debate is pointless – even the word ‘drug’ is ambiguous and political imo. Call childbirth a drug why don’t you.. overpopulation? Yeah well ejucated countries like Sweden have no more than 2-3 kids max so shove that up the asses of these hypocritical one-track minded anti-‘drug’ lobbiests.

      Sorry for the rant… I’m just extremely tired of people having to submit to some idiotic authority that doesn’t give two shits about learning the facts about marijuana and its uses in spiritual ‘progression (quotes to respect differing beliefs) and shamanism.

  14. WTFMFWOMG | Aug 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    Any psychoactive substance used while the brain is still being formed permanently alters its  development. This can be said for chocolate, coffee, tea, etc., but the worst is probably tobacco. One place I worked was next door to a NarcAnon meeting place. I remember leaving work one day when a meeting was about to start for the evening; one of the participants had a case of Coca Cola under one arm and a carton of cigarettes under the other. The dugs that primed their brains for addiction are still legal. The message to children should be “Just say ‘wait.'”

    • TruthVybes | Aug 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

       Exactly. ‘Hallucinations’ are also scams imo… If only ‘schizos’ knew how to define the debris… Btw I lurk the David Icke forums and just noticed that you also post here 🙂

      •  ” ‘Hallucinations’ are also scams imo… If only ‘schizos’ knew how to define the debris..”

        Yes yes, absolutely. Someone I know has the tremendous fortune to have both ‘shizophrenia’ and ‘adhd’ and quite often just talks seemingly random words unconnected to immediate situational events, but are usually words directly relating to subjects I was thinking of only a few minutes before or even RIGHT before. It happens so often it’s normality around here, but it is a really amazing development. The visuals are alot more mysterious… goldfish in the sky? Vanishing people with stripey socked legs? My mundane mind boggles.

  15. TruthVybes | Aug 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm |

    Heavy drinking leads to liver diseases;
    Heavy optimism causes ignorance;
    Heavy eating leads to heavy people

    Cannabis has helped me help myself and I have the right to choose what I do with my body with a plant (which I consider more than just a plant). It depends on the person’s desires and nothing but knowledge and wisdom (which is very personal) can change that. Marijuana will be replaced by opiates and/or alcohol and if those are deprived then it will lead to sexual obsession (for instance). I wouldn’t blame a plant and screw the perception of it for everyone (which would cause ignorance for the upcoming generations which is unfair imo). Fire burns you if you mess with it but it can also be used as a tool.

    Also; i believe (no, i KNOW) that those in control of the ‘sciences’ use the term ‘hallucination’ to confuse those who see through the veils which is exactly what cannabis does. Problem with such arguments is that there’s always two sides to the story and anyone can emphasize on the pros or cons (or both) and tempt the general public to acknowledge such ‘facts’ (which are indeed facts, but hyper-focused on ignorant fear mongering instead of evaluation from an objective point of reference).

    Teach proper cannibas use in schools just as you do with sex and everyone wins. You got a cannabis problem – that’s YOUR problem and only if you see it as a problem or else it’s a much needed experience in the grand scheme of things…. but then I’m not speaking from an atheist’s point of view when I say this.

    < currently going through a 2 month withdrawel (completely sober) so that I can experience life from a sober perspective. I see nothing wrong with it and I don't even consider it a 'problem'. The selfish rich idiots who want more $ by shoving pessimistic POVs about psychedelics have the real 'problems' – 'too much money without work ethic causes 'withdrawel' symtoms such as greed which is worse than heroin imo. Maybe those who complain about beings who choose to partake in the fruits of life should become bums so they can 'face life'. It's ignorant plain and simple.


  16. I call BS

  17. People in their 20s are anxious with or without marijuana. For a wider scope on stoners, visit karmajello.com

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