Cannabis and you: Mental health

Although many people will use cannabis to cope with mental health concerns, it is important to understand that cannabis can have a negative impact on our mental health if used frequently, and if we begin using it as teenagers. The earlier in life you begin using cannabis the higher your risk of developing mental health issues later in life.

What are some of these issues?

Addiction: Although cannabis addiction is not a common diagnosis, it is a reality that many frequent users experience. Cannabis addiction is when the dependence gets to a point where people can’t stop using even though it is having negative physical, emotional, and psychological effects. In general, an addiction to cannabis (also called cannabis use disorder) is only diagnosed in severe cases; according to the CDC, of those who use cannabis, roughly 3 in 10 people meet the qualifications for a use disorder. However, the risks are increased in those who begin using the drug in their teens and in those who use more frequently; recent research shows that individuals who begin using cannabis before the age of 18 are 4-7 times more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder than their older counterparts.

Psychosis/schizophrenia: For people who have a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia, their risk of developing psychosis or schizophrenia is increased with frequent cannabis use, especially if it starts in adolescence.

Suicide, depression, and anxiety: Frequent cannabis use, especially that this starts early in life, can increase a user’s chances of depression and anxiety disorder, and their risk of suicidal ideation.

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