More than 1% of Canadians have been dependent on cannabis at some point in their lives. Despite the fact that marijuana use is expected to grow with the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, little research has focused on factors associated with recovery from addiction.
New research published online this month in the journal Advances in Preventive Medicine found that Canadians with a history of cannabis dependence are much less likely to be in excellent mental health and much more likely to have some form of mental illness or substance dependence compared to those who have never been dependent on cannabis.
The study compared 336 Canadians with a history of cannabis dependence to 20,441 who had never been addicted to the substance. The data were drawn from Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.
"Our findings illustrate that for many adults, a history of cannabis dependence casts a very long shadow, with a wide range of associated negative mental health outcomes" says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW) and Director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging.
More than a quarter (28%) of those with a history of cannabis dependence were still dependent on cannabis, while almost one-half (47%) had some form of mental illness or substance dependence, compared to only 8% among those without a history of cannabis dependence.
Overall, 74% of those without a history of dependence were in excellent mental health, while only 43% of those with a history of dependence were.
To be considered in excellent mental health, subjects had to report: 1) almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month, 2) high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month, and 3) freedom from all forms of substance dependence, depressive and generalized anxiety disorder and serious suicidal thoughts for at least the preceding full year.
Social support was strongly associated with remission from cannabis attendance and achieving excellent mental health.
It is important to consider ways to best facilitate social integration and social support for clients who are recovering from cannabis addiction. Clinicians may be more effective if they expand the focus of their treatment for substance dependence to include strategies to assist clients in creating and maintaining healthy social connections." Janany Jayanthikumar, Study Co-Author and a Master of Social work graduate, University of Toronto Related Stories
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