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04 July 2020

Background and Aims: Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is frequent in adolescence and often goes into remission towards adulthood. This study aimed to estimate trajectories of CUD severity (CUDS) in Swiss men from 20 to 25 years old and to identify prospective predictors of these trajectories.

Participants: 5987 Swiss men assessed longitudinally at the mean ages of 20, 21.5 and 25 years old.

Measurements: Latent CUDS in the last 12 months was measured at each wave with the Cannabis Use Disorders Identification Test Revised (CUDIT‐R). Predictors of CUDS trajectories, measured at age 20, were from six domains: factors related to cannabis use, family, peers, other substance use, mental health and personality.

Conclusions: Factors associated with persistent cannabis use disorder in young Swiss men include cannabis use, cannabis use disorder severity, mental health problem severity, relationship with parents (before the age of 18), peers with drug problems, and the personality dimensions neuroticism‐anxiety and sociability at or before age 20. Effect sizes may be small and predictors are mainly associated with persistence via higher severity at age 20.

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Brain changes from using THC too frequently cause withdrawal and craving. Cannabis causes two distinct changes in brain chemistry, physiology, and function that combine to create dependence. Its main psychoactive ingredient, THC, reduces the normal number of natural cannabinoid receptors, a process called downregulation. THC also alters reward circuitry, bending motivation toward continued cannabis use.                                                    

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Compared to babies of mothers who didn’t use cannabis before or during pregnancy, infants of those who still used it at 15 weeks had a smaller birth weight, head circumference and length. They were also born at an earlier gestational age.

This is cause for concern as these outcomes are strongly linked to future child health and development.

We saw bigger differences in these neonatal outcomes for women who used cannabis more than once a week than for those who used it less often.

We also found severe complications following birth, such as breathing problems and the need for admission to a specialist neonatal unit, were twice as likely for babies of mothers who continued to use cannabis at 15 weeks compared to babies of mothers who didn’t report using cannabis.

We’ve seen similar trends in recent studies from the United States and Canada.

Notably, we didn’t see differences in any neonatal outcomes among women who reported stopping cannabis in early pregnancy or just before becoming pregnant compared to babies of mothers who reported no cannabis use

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Rapper Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Omari, says he has stopped smoking marijuana, after realising the drug was harming his mental health. And because of who he is, his message is likely to reach a lot of people who urgently need to hear it.

He said: “I have suffered with mental health problems for the past few years… When I used to feel depressed, I would lock myself away and smoke weed and I would just get worse and worse and worse.” 

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Conclusions: These results demonstrate a moderate association between cannabis use and physical violence, which remained significant regardless of study design and adjustment for confounding factors (i.e., socioeconomic factors, other substance use). Cannabis use in this population is a risk factor for violence.

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