Researchers in Switzerland have discovered a disturbing trend among teen cannabis users. They reported that recent statistics show that over 34% of boys aged 15 and over one quarter of 15 year old girls in Switzerland use the drug. Using cannabis has been shown to produce many problems. “In particular, negative consequences frequently associated with cannabis dependence include, among others, conduct disorders, impaired school and job performance, legal difficulties, risky sexual behaviors, and respiratory effects beyond those attributable to tobacco use,” said the team. They pointed out that teens who have difficulty coping with life stressors tend to turn to drugs or alcohol as a method of avoidance and to ease their pain. They said, “According to stress-coping models of addiction, psychoactive substances are generally used as a stress-coping strategy in order to reduce negative affect.” Because of this, the researchers sought to determine if poor coping skills attributed to increased cannabis use in Swiss teens.
For their study, the researchers enlisted 110 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. The sample consisted of 38 teens with cannabis dependence and 72 without. After evaluating the teens for several factors, including psychosocial problems, internal coping, active coping and avoidant coping, they found a direct correlation between cannabis use and weakened coping mechanisms. “Results revealed the highest percentages of internal (36%) and active coping (32%) for nondependent adolescents, whereas dependent adolescents presented the highest percentage of avoidant coping (38%), surpassing their use of active (28%) and internal coping (34%),” said the team. Their findings underscore the need for positive peer relationships and effective coping mechanisms to decrease cannabis use among this segment of the population. “In fact, there is an important need for treatment of dependent adolescents as frequent cannabis use can have deleterious effects on mental health and may represent a ‘gateway’ to other illicit substances,” the researchers said. They added, “Professionals in clinical settings should thus be prepared to broach the matter of cannabis use in the context of discussion about other issues.”
Cascone, Pablo, Grégoire Zimmermann, Bertrand Auckenthaler, and Christiane Robert-Tissot. “Cannabis Dependence in Swiss Adolescents Exploration of the Role of Anxiety, Coping Styles, and Psychosocial Difficulties.” Swiss Journal of Psychology70.3 (2011): 129-39. Print
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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