Long-term study reveals harmful effects of regular cannabis use on quality of life

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Several questions come up often when it comes to cannabis use, whether for recreational or medical purposes, including the following: how badly is its prolonged use mentally in the long term? And after how long? Questions with vague answers so far, but which are becoming clearer over the years of research on the benefits and harms of this plant. According to a new study from the University of Queensland (UQ), regular use of cannabis has significant negative psychological effects on quality of life in adulthood, regardless of the age at which a person begins to consume it.

This study looked at thousands of people who started using cannabis regularly in high school or in their early 20s. The control group consisted of people who did not use cannabis. Lead author Dr. Gary Chan of the UQ National Research Center on Substance Use in Young People specifies that the results link regular cannabis use to negative life outcomes at 35 years approximately.

Compared to non-users, regular cannabis users were more likely to consume high-risk alcohol, smoke tobacco, use other illicit drugs, and not be in a relationship at age 35 ," Dr Chan said. “ These findings were more common among those who began to use cannabis regularly as a teenager. They were also at greater risk for depression and less likely to have paid work .

Overall, regular cannabis use - more than weekly and especially daily use - has been shown to have negative consequences, regardless of the age at which people first started using it, ” adds he does.

Long-term adverse effects on quality of life

The research project followed 1,792 Australian high school students aged 15 in 1992, investigating patterns of cannabis use over 20 years. In this setting, the outcomes of adulthood at age 35 were compared for both groups (consumers and non-users), including alcohol consumption, smoking, illicit drug use, relationship status, financial difficulties, depression, anxiety and work situation. The results were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review . The study was conducted in collaboration with the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the University of Melbourne.

Many previous studies had only documented the harms associated with regular cannabis use in adolescents, so few have examined the harmful consequences associated with use from young adulthood. “ Two-thirds of people who use cannabis regularly started using it in their early 20s, ” says Chan. “ Because it is much more common for this drug to start in adulthood rather than in adolescence, most of the harms associated with cannabis are actually in the group who start using it later . […]Those who started using it regularly in adulthood represented the highest proportion of subsequent illicit drug use and smoking in the population, and a much higher proportion of high-risk use ”.

According to Chan, the results should be used to educate the public about the risks of regular cannabis use: “ Public health agencies and policy makers need to send a clear and strong message to the public, that regular cannabis use is harmful. , regardless of when an individual begins to use it ”. " This is especially important for jurisdictions that have already legalized recreational cannabis, such as Canada, some US states (and other countries around the world

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