This is why helping those struggling with cannabis dependency is so important

Canadian study found just 43 per cent of those who were no longer cannabis-dependent had positive mental health

Dealing with any addiction is difficult, but for cannabis-dependent Canadians the road to recovery can be especially perilous.

A new study by Canadian researchers, headed by Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Toronto, found that  “only a minority of individuals who had a history of cannabis dependence thrived after remission.” Just 43 per cent of those who had stopped taking cannabis following dependency issues were considered to have positive mental health.

In this case, positive mental health is defined as being without suicidal thoughts, drug or alcohol abuse and experiencing a regular sense of happiness or life satisfaction in addition to positive social and psychological well-being.

The findings were even more worrisome when compared to Canadians who had never been addicted to cannabis. Of that selection, 74 per cent had positive mental health and 92 per cent were free of mental illness, suicidal thoughts or addictions.

Overall, outcomes were considerably more positive for women, older respondents and those with higher levels of social support than men, younger people and those with low social support.

The study also found that women who were once cannabis-dependent were twice as likely to enter remission than men. Men were also more likely to have a history of cannabis dependence.

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson headed the study. / Photo: Twitter, Life Course & Aging, U of T

Twitter, Life Course & Aging, U of T

Those without a history of cannabis dependence were nine times less likely to suffer from addictions or psychiatric disorders. And those with a history of dependence were more likely to have had a major depressive episode (35 per cent versus 11 per cent) or to have had generalized anxiety disorders (27 per cent versus nine per cent).

Researchers concluded that we need to do more for the most vulnerable individuals with a history of cannabis dependence. This is particularly the case “in light of the increasing number of cannabis users expected as a result of recent legalization, and the large number of individuals dependent on cannabis.”


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