Cannabis Use Could Be Indicator for Poor Psychological Health

Cannabis has often been called the “gateway drug” because its use often precedes the use of other drugs and harmful substances. In the study on cannabis use, much attention has been focused on young adults and teenagers. In particular, experts study the effect of cannabis use on psychological well-being. The existing data shows a link between mental health problems and cannabis use; however, it is unclear whether cannabis use increases this risk or rather, if mental well-being predicts cannabis use.

To address this question and others related to the effects of cannabis use, Willemijn A. van Gastel of the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands recently evaluated surveys from over 10,000 students between the ages of 11 and 16. The participants were asked about their level of substance use, cannabis use, cigarette use, and alcohol use. They also reported any school problems, family problems, molestation history, and other events or environmental risk factors.

Van Gastel found a direct association between recent cannabis use and negative psychosocial outcomes, however, this association diminished when other risk factors were considered. More significantly, several risk factors associated with negative psychosocial outcomes were also associated with higher levels of cannabis use. These risk factors included school truancy, poor school behavior, illness-related school absence, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use.

Further, van Gastel believes that acceptance of substance use, mood issues and low self-esteem might also contribute to poor psychosocial outcomes and increased cannabis use. Another interesting finding was the lack of any relationship between level of cannabis use and level of poor psychosocial outcome. This would indicate that it is only when other risk factors described herein are also present that cannabis use increases negative outcomes.

However, this can also be interpreted to suggest that cannabis use among young adults and teenagers could predict future risk of other negative behaviors and overall poor psychological well-being and psychosocial outcomes. “Thus,” added van Gastel, “Cannabis use can best be viewed as an indicator of risk for mental health problems in adolescence.”

Van Gastel, W.A., et al. (2013). Cannabis use as an indicator of risk for mental health problems in adolescents: A population-based study at secondary schools. Psychological Medicine 43.9 (2013): 1849-56. ProQuest. Web.

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  • brady


    September 9th, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    So here is my argument:
    If we have all of this information and know all of this can how can there still be segmants of society which argue that using pot is okay and that people are fine who use it. Sure there are probably those who will never have any problems after smoking a joint but I am not willing to take that chance wtih myself and later on down the line with my kids. Are you? There are too many other factors at play that could cause things to go horribly wrong. I am not too sure which one causes which- if the problems are there and are made worse by smoking pot or if the smoking pot creates the problem, but the point is that there is obviously some connection there that I do not want to explore in any way, shape or form. To say that this is safe, thast it won’t really lead to any real problems, well I think that this is just choosing to be ignorant if you ask me. This is seeing what you want to believe and refusing to see the truht for what it is. This is a drug that can alter how you feel and this is a cause for soncern in a whole lot of people, not something to mess around with.

  • George C

    George C

    September 10th, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    careful careful. . . studies can sometimes say what we want them to say.. . especially depending on who funds them and for what reason

    not saying that this is what is going on here, I just like to keep an open mind when reading something like this before automatically interjecting what I already feel about a subject into something that may prevent me from seeing the issue quite as clearly as I otherwise could.



    September 11th, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    My friends and I used to smoke pot in college all the time and now all of us are very successful career women and have families and are doing fine.
    None of us that I know of have any kind of psychological problems nor did we before college wither.
    This was so tame compared to what others did, and I honestly can’t believe that there is still this argument going on over whether cannabis use is safe or not.
    Anything to the extreme is going to be harmful to your health, of course we all know that. But for a little down time and relaxation? I will always say that it is safer than drinking.

  • David


    June 13th, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    Isn’t that the truth Mandy. I’m a forty year old cannabis smoker, and have been since a young age. I’ve seen every kind of stoner in the book. Everyone partakes in cannabis differently. Some are casual smokers and others bake all day and do nothing but hang out. Don’t believe all the hype and studies of the ill effects of this wonderful plant. The big pill companies don’t want you to be able to heal yourself with a plant you can grow yourself. There’s no money in it for them. Let me explain.
    A cannabis plant holds more terpins than any other plant species on earth. Around 180 different kinds. These terpins help everything in the human body from inflammation to anxiety and pain. There’s many ways to ingest cannabis other than puffing large amounts of smoke which can harm the lungs. And sure, any medication can be abused by people looking to get high. Just look at the prescription pill epidemic, it’s bad. I truly believe anti-inflammatory and balancing your blood pressure is key to good health.
    My good friend and cannabis user since high school recently had to quit to get tested for a job. After not smoking for a few months his blood pressure went through the roof. He felt ill and not right. His doctor actually requested him to continue cannabis use. The next visit his blood pressure was back to normal.
    I believe cannabis is the fountain of youth. If you want to remain active and young at heart into your older years, cannabis will help your body do this. I juice fresh cannabis leaves along with carrots and apples and other greens daily. The fresh juiced leaves give me more energy than anything I’ve ever eaten or drank in my life. I’m forty and surf solid double over head, heavy surf. Still hit a 80mph fastball with power behind it. Push-ups, pull-ups, bring it on. I bump into people from high school and they laugh cause they say I look the same as I did then. I think people easily point the finger and judge, but who’s judging now? Who’s on the beach taking pics, and who’s getting stand up barrels? Alcohol is bad, bad stuff. Poison. Focus your energy on that demon.

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