Australian study: Frequent marijuana use among those under 17 may result in lower educational achievement

23 Sep

Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational. eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse:

Substance Abuse Causes
Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.
Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.
o Chaotic home environment
o Ineffective parenting
o Lack of nurturing and parental attachment
Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.
o Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom
o Poor social coping skills
o Poor school performance
o Association with a deviant peer group
o Perception of approval of drug use behavior http://www.emedicinehealth.com/substance_abuse/article_em.htm

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs? http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Sally.html

Simon Makin reported in the Scientific American article, Does Marijuana Harm the Brain?

The Claim
Casual cannabis use harms young people’s brains.
The Facts
A study found differences in the brains of users and nonusers, but it did not establish that marijuana use caused the variations or that they had any functional significance.
The Details
Researchers at Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School conducted MRI scans of two groups of 20 young adults ages 18 to 25. One group reported using marijuana at least once a week, smoking 11 joints a week on average, whereas the other had used it less than five times total and not at all during the last year. Neither group had any psychiatric disorders, and the users were psychiatrically assessed as not dependent on the drug.
The study focused on two brain regions involved in processing rewards, the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. These areas create pleasurable experiences of things such as food and sex, as well as the high associated with drugs, and have been shown to change in animals given THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
The researchers found that cannabis users had more gray matter density in the left nucleus accumbens and left amygdala, as well as differences in the shape of the left nucleus accumbens and right amygdala. The left nucleus accumbens also tended to be slightly larger in users. They concluded that recreational cannabis use might be associated with abnormalities in the brain’s reward system. News reports have proclaimed that scientists have shown that even casual cannabis use harms young people’s brains.
The Caveats
The most obvious problem with leaping to that conclusion is that the scans were conducted at only one point. This approach can compare the two groups, but it cannot prove cannabis caused any differences between them—or even that the differences represent changes over time. They could be preexisting variations, or cannabis use and brain changes may both be related to a third factor, such as tobacco (although the study did attempt to take levels of smoking into account)…..
Reality Check—Cannabis use has been found to:
• Cause dependence, at some point in their lives, in about 9 percent of people who try it.
• Impair various aspects of cognitive function, particularly memory. Impairments can remain for several days. One study showed that performance returns to nonusers’ levels after 28 days of abstinence, but evidence is mixed about how long the impairments last.
• Potentially reduce the volume of the hippocampus, which is critical for memory—but only after heavy and prolonged use. The evidence linking cognitive impairments to specific brain changes is inconclusive, and the degree to which such changes are reversible is hotly debated. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-marijuana-harm-the-brain/

Science Daily reported a longitudinal study from Australia and New Zealand.

In Frequent cannabis use in adolescence linked with reduced educational attainment, other problems in young adults, Science Daily reported:

Individuals who are daily users of cannabis before age 17 are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used the drug, new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal shows. The large meta-analysis also indicates that daily users of cannabis during adolescence are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, have an 18 times greater chance of cannabis dependence, and are eight times as likely to use other illicit drugs in later life.
“Our findings are particularly timely given that several US states and countries in Latin America have made moves to decriminalize or legalize cannabis, raising the possibility that the drug might become more accessible to young people”, says Richard Mattick, study author and Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Australia.
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug globally and recent statistics have shown that in some countries adolescents are starting cannabis use at a younger age and more adolescents are using cannabis heavily. In England, 4% of 11-15 year olds report cannabis use in the past month, roughly 7% of US high-school seniors are daily or near-daily cannabis users, and in Australia, around 1% of 14-19 year olds are daily users of the drug, whilst 4% use weekly.
In this study, a team of Australian and New Zealand researchers combined individual-level data on up to 3765 participants who used cannabis from three large, long-running longitudinal studies to find out more about the link between the frequency of cannabis use before the age of 17 years (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily) and seven developmental outcomes up to the age of 30 years (completing high school, obtaining a university degree, cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, suicide attempt, depression, and welfare dependence)….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140909192001.htm

Citation:

Frequent cannabis use in adolescence linked with reduced educational attainment, other problems in young adults
Date: September 9, 2014

Source: The Lancet
Summary:
Individuals who are daily users of cannabis before age 17 are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used the drug, new research shows. The large meta-analysis also indicates that daily users of cannabis during adolescence are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, have an 18 times greater chance of cannabis dependence, and are eight times as likely to use other illicit drugs in later life.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis
Dr Edmund Silins PhD a Corresponding AuthorEmail Address, L John Horwood MSc c, Prof George C Patton MD d g, Prof David M Fergusson PhD c, Craig A Olsson PhD d e g h, Delyse M Hutchinson PhD a, Elizabeth Spry BA d, Prof John W Toumbourou PhD d e, Prof Louisa Degenhardt PhD a d f i, Wendy Swift PhD a, Carolyn Coffey PhD d, Robert J Tait PhD j k, Primrose Letcher PhD g, Prof Jan Copeland PhD b, Richard P Mattick PhD a, for the Cannabis Cohorts Research Consortium†

Summary

Background

Debate continues about the consequences of adolescent cannabis use. Existing data are limited in statistical power to examine rarer outcomes and less common, heavier patterns of cannabis use than those already investigated; furthermore, evidence has a piecemeal approach to reporting of young adult sequelae. We aimed to provide a broad picture of the psychosocial sequelae of adolescent cannabis use.
Methods

We integrated participant-level data from three large, long-running longitudinal studies from Australia and New Zealand: the Australian Temperament Project, the Christchurch Health and Development Study, and the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study. We investigated the association between the maximum frequency of cannabis use before age 17 years (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily) and seven developmental outcomes assessed up to age 30 years (high-school completion, attainment of university degree, cannabis dependence, use of other illicit drugs, suicide attempt, depression, and welfare dependence). The number of participants varied by outcome (N=2537 to N=3765).

Findings

We recorded clear and consistent associations and dose-response relations between the frequency of adolescent cannabis use and all adverse young adult outcomes. After covariate adjustment, compared with individuals who had never used cannabis, those who were daily users before age 17 years had clear reductions in the odds of high-school completion (adjusted odds ratio 0•37, 95% CI 0•20—0•66) and degree attainment (0•38, 0•22—0•66), and substantially increased odds of later cannabis dependence (17•95, 9•44—34•12), use of other illicit drugs (7•80, 4•46—13•63), and suicide attempt (6•83, 2•04—22•90).

Interpretation

Adverse sequelae of adolescent cannabis use are wide ranging and extend into young adulthood. Prevention or delay of cannabis use in adolescence is likely to have broad health and social benefits. Efforts to reform cannabis legislation should be carefully assessed to ensure they reduce adolescent cannabis use and prevent potentially adverse developmental effects.

Funding

Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council.
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis : The Lancet Psychiatry National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis : The Lancet Psychiatry
Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. By – Dr Edmund Silins PhD, L John Horwood MSc, Prof George C Patton MD, Prof David M Fergusson PhD, Craig A Olsson PhD, Del…
View on http://www.thelancet.com
b National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia
c Christchurch Health and Development Study, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
d Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
e School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia
f School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
g Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
h Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
i Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
j National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
k Centre for Research on Ageing Health and Wellbeing, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Corresponding Author Information Correspondence to: Dr Edmund Silins, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
† Other members listed at end of paper

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/content/default.aspx?pud=a8bcb6ee-523a-4909-9d76-928d956f3f91
If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps to Take and each step is explained at the site. http://www.drugfree.org/intervene
If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Related:

University of Washington study: Heroin use among young suburban and rural non-traditional users on the https://drwilda.com/2013/10/13/university-of-washington-study-heroin-use-among-young-suburban-and-rural-non-traditional-users-on-the-increase/

Resources

Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base http://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/teenage-substance-abuse/adolescent-substance-abuse/signs-drug-use/

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/drugsofabuse/a/driug_abuse20.htm?r=et

Is Your Teen Using?
http://www.drugfree.org/intervene

Al-Anon and Alateen http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/teen-substance-abuse-choosing-a-treatment-program-topic-overview

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment? http://store.samhsa.gov/home

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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