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.
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.”