Evidence Links Marijuana Use to Mental Health Risks in Young Adults


marijuana mental health risks

Evidence Links Marijuana Use to Mental Health Risks in Young Adults

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

Marijuana and cannabis-infused products are easily accessible and come in various forms that can be attractive to children and teenagers, including gummies and desserts. Many teens experiment with marijuana due to simple curiosity or peer pressure, but they may not realize the drug can have a lasting impact on their brains. 

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Countless movies and TV shows have depicted marijuana as a consequence-free way to have fun and relax. As a result, adolescents and adults may believe pot is safer than other drugs, but limited proof supports this claim. Cannabis remains a federally controlled substance that can have severe long-term health effects.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 30% of people who use marijuana become dependent on it, which means their brains have gotten used to regular doses of THC and reduced the natural production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Children who begin using cannabis before age 18 are more vulnerable to this problem.

Attempting to quit using pot after developing a dependence will likely cause withdrawal symptoms like these: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Drug cravings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating and chills
  • Depression and anxiety

The Health Risks of Marijuana

While research about marijuana’s health benefits is scant, we know cannabis can impair functions such as attention, memory, learning and decision-making. Smoking, vaping or ingesting marijuana can also lead to severe consequences for young adults, including poor academic performance, a higher likelihood of dropping out and greater risk of unemployment.

Adolescents whose brains are still developing may be more susceptible to experiencing lasting damage from drug exposure. For example, mounting evidence links marijuana use with psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, especially in young men. 

Many states have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana, enabling people to use it more frequently and in new ways. Unfortunately, the strains sold in dispensaries tend to have dangerously high concentrations of THC. A lack of consistent regulation surrounding these products also means the user experience can vary widely.

Preventing Addiction for Teens and Young Adults

Some parents dismiss teen substance use as a phase their children will soon outgrow. However, while new experiences and youthful experimentation are part of the learning process, drug use is particularly problematic for younger people and can have far-reaching consequences. 

If marijuana use has become a habit for your teen, or you worry that cannabis may eventually pave the way to more harmful drugs, professional counseling can help your family get back on a healthy footing. 

At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we offer substance use and mental health evaluations to give people the best chance of recovery. Wherever possible, our team involves family and treatment professionals in the evaluation process to gather valuable collateral information. You and your family can find comfort in Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno’s 35+ years of combined experience. Contact us today for compassionate support and specialized services.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

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