Marijuana Withdrawal Common in Substance Abusing Teens

Marijuana Withdrawal Common in Substance Abusing Teens
Marijuana Withdrawal Common in Substance Abusing Teens

(HealthDay News) — Teens who develop withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are more likely to meet the guidelines for marijuana dependence and for mood disorders, according to a new study published recently in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Researchers followed outcomes for 127 teens, ages 14–19, treated at an outpatient substance abuse clinic. Marijuana was the substance used most often by 90 of the teens. Of those 90 teens, 76 (84%) met criteria for marijuana dependence, including increased tolerance for, and use of, marijuana, as well as unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop using the drug. About two-fifths of the 90 teens also experienced symptoms of withdrawal when they stopped using marijuana – a sign of drug dependence, according to the study authors.

Teens who exhibited withdrawal symptoms were more likely to experience negative consequences such as trouble at school or on the job, or financial or relationship problems. People who recognized and accepted that they had a substance abuse problem tied to their marijuana use were more likely to make progress towards abstinence, compared to those who did not think they had a problem, the researchers noted.

"The importance of understanding the addictiveness, risks, and harms associated with cannabis use is a major theme of this study's findings," coauthor John Kelly, PhD, from the Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Addiction Medicine, said in a hospital news release. "Recognizing those risks is known to reduce the likelihood that someone will start to use drugs, and better understanding of the role of substances in the problems experienced by patients may help them cut down on future use."

The study was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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