Light Cannabis Use Can Lead to Problems Later

Light Cannabis Use Can Lead to Problems Later

Cannabis is growing as a drug of choice among teenagers, according to a report in AAP and parents are warned to get tough on teens who indulge. This warning comes on the heels of recent research that shows even occasional use can lead to alcoholism or even harder drugs.

A study in this area included roughly 2,000 Australian schoolchildren who were tracked over a decade. Results from this study show that those who used cannabis occasionally at the age of 13 and 14 were more likely to be taking ecstasy, cocaine or amphetamines at 24. The study also revealed that these individuals were at more of a risk of addiction to cannabis as one in 10 occasional teen users get hooked as adults.

The study also found that roughly one-third of occasional cannabis users were taking harder drugs in their early 20s compared with 11 percent of those who had not used the substance earlier in life.

Higher levels of alcoholism have been linked to cannabis use in this study. Research results show that 15 percent of occasional cannabis smokers were addicted to alcohol in early adulthood, while only 9 percent of those who had not smoked dope had an alcohol addiction problem.

This study contradicts findings from previous studies that suggest regularly smoking the drug could lead to adult substance abuse but was less harmful if used infrequently. These new findings suggest prevention should be a priority focus.

"What it definitely says is that early onset occasional cannabis use is a marker for being more likely to be engaging in a whole range of drug use behaviors in young adulthood," said lead author Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW.

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