Chronic marijuana use by teenage boys does not appear to be linked to physical or mental health issues later in life, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.
If you used to smoke marijuana as a teenager, something probably made you stop. For some, it was paranoia or the impression of playing a role in the remake of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. For others, it was the fear that the substance was linked to later physical or mental health issues such as depression, psychotic symptoms or asthma.
Is teen marijuana use really that bad?
Some studies suggests that heavy marijuana use in youth triggers serious health problems in adulthood. However, one of the firsts longitudinal studies addressing the long-term physical and mental health consequences associated with chronic adolescent marijuana use did not find any evidence to support the claim.
Researchers tracked hundreds of males from adolescence into their mid-30s for the study, which was published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
“What we found was a little surprising,” said lead researcher Jordan Bechtold, PhD, a psychology research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “There were no differences in any of the mental or physical health outcomes that we measured regardless of the amount or frequency of marijuana used during adolescence.”
Even researchers were surprised
Researchers said that based on previous studies they expected to find at least a degree of correlation between teen marijuana use and later development of psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, or cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and respiratory problems. They found none.
On the internet there are plenty of testimonials of worried parents who see their children’s lives gradually deteriorating because of marijuana use. Some teenagers have been reportedly busted by the school, failed the drug test, got suspended for days and had to get drug counseling. A mother who kicked her daughter out of the house after discovering she was a pothead is asking for help to the online community to get her ‘decent kid’ back.
Yet, parents and former marijuana users might want to breathe a sight of relief as overall, data from this recent study provided little to no evidence to suggest that patterns of marijuana use from adolescence to young adulthood, were negatively related to the indicators of physical or mental health studied.
No link between teen marijuana use and long-term health consequences
In the framework of the Pittsburgh Youth Study, scientists from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Rutgers University started tracking a group of 408 participants aged 14-year-olds in the late 1980s and checked in with them regularly until they were 36.
Participants were divided into four groups based on their self-reported marijuana smoking habits. The researchers measured other factors as well that could have influenced the findings, including cigarette smoking, other illicit drug use, and participants’ access to health insurance. Although there were no differences in the findings based on race or ethnicity, the study included only males; there were no findings or conclusions about women.
What do you think of marijuana use in teenagers? What’s the worst thing the drug did to your friends or family? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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