The Age (Aust) 7 Aug 2012
Teenagers who smoke cannabis weekly are more than twice as likely as non-users to develop an anxiety disorder in their late 20s, even if they stop using the drug, new research has shown.
The research, published in the journal Addiction, drew on the results of a landmark 15-year study of nearly 2000 Victorian secondary students. An analysis of data collected between 1992 and 2008 found teenagers who smoked cannabis once a week or more for a period of at least six months doubled their risk of having an anxiety disorder for up to a decade afterwards. About 12 per cent of teenagers in the study – or one in eight – smoked cannabis at that level.
The association between cannabis use and anxiety disorders persisted even when researchers took into account other possible explanations, including pre-existing mental health problems or other drug use.
Lead author Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, said the study showed cannabis use during adolescence had ”a persistent association with anxiety disorders” that continued into adulthood.
”Given that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the Australian population … we need to investigate the findings further because it is highly possible that early cannabis use causes enduring mental health risks,” she said.