Teens use cannabis for relief, not recreation

April 25th, 2009 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 25 (IANS) A third of teens who smoke cannabis regularly use it as medication, rather than as a means of getting high, claims a new study.
Joan Bottorff worked with researchers from the University of British Columbia, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, to conduct in-depth interviews with 63 cannabis-using adolescents.

Of these, 20 claimed that they used cannabis to relieve or manage health problems. Bottorff said: “Marijuana is perceived by some teens to be the only available alternative for those experiencing difficult health problems when legitimate medical treatments have failed or when they lack access to appropriate health care.”

The most common complaints recorded were emotional problems (including depression, anxiety and stress), sleep difficulties, problems with concentration and physical pain.

The teens’ experiences with the medical system were uniformly negative. The authors said: “Youth who reported they had been prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac or sleeping pills, stopped using them because they did not like how these drugs made them feel or found them ineffective. For these kids, the purpose of smoking marijuana was not specifically about getting high or stoned.”

The authors emphasise that the unmet medical needs of these teens are of key importance in these findings. In contrast to the unpleasant side effects of prescribed medications and long, ineffective legal therapies, cannabis provided these adolescents with immediate relief for a variety of health concerns, said a British Columbia release.

The new study was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

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