Study Shows Weed Addiction in Teens Might Actually Be Real

By Brent McCluskey 09/09/14

Participants who frequently smoked weed reported symptoms of withdrawal, including anxiety, irritability, and depression.

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While it is traditionally believed that marijuana is non-addictive, a new study by Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that marijuana addiction among teens may be a serious problem. Published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the study showed that the majority of the teens who frequently used the drug met the criteria for cannabis dependence.

After evaluating 127 teenagers who were being treated for substance use disorder, study co-author John Kelly, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine, discovered that 76 of the 90 teens who admitted to frequently using marijuana exhibited an increased tolerance for the drug. Kelly also noted that 36 of the participants reported symptoms of withdrawal, including anxiety, irritability, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

Although many of the participants experienced the symptoms of withdrawal, they were still able to reduce the use of the drug during the 12-month follow-up period. Claire Greene, the corresponding co-author of the report, reasoned that the teens may have been able to accomplish this by recognizing their withdrawal symptoms.

“We hypothesize that participants who experience withdrawal symptoms but do not recognize having a substance use problem may not attribute those symptoms to cannabis withdrawal,” said Greene. “Those who do acknowledge a substance-use problem may correctly attribute those symptoms to cannabis withdrawal, giving them even more motivation to change their substance use behavior.”

Kelly added that understanding the risks associated with marijuana use can not only reduce the chance of using in the first place, it can help a person quit as well.

“The importance of understanding the addictiveness, risks and harms associated with cannabis use is a major theme of the study’s findings,” said Kelly. “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.”

Kelly said the general trend in the U.S. is to minimize the danger of marijuana, and called for further research to determine if certain programs can help increase awareness and change the public’s perspective on the drug.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.