Cannabis Use Higher Among Teens with Poor Coping Skills

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

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  • Maggie


    September 13th, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    This is sad, scratch that VERY sad but not surprising. Children gravitate towards this drug with promises of it making “all of your worries go away” and unlike most other drug claims this one is actually true. For the time while you’re high, all of your worries DO go away and that’s precisely the problem.

    Above all other things, the worst thing about marijuana is that it’s so easy for kids to use it to hide from their problems instead of coping with them. The day kids stop caring about their problems is the day kids stops doing anything for themselves. This is way I think teens with with coping problems flock to this drug, “Why cope for yourself when Marijuana can do it for you?”.

  • Connie


    September 13th, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    I know that there are nay sayers who claim that using pot is not dangerous, but I have to feel like it is illegal in the US for a reason.

    It is a gateway to using other drugs, harder drugs, and it is definitely the gateway for inviting trouble. This is especially true for teens who use it regularly.

    So say what you want but I will keep my own kids away from it by all means possible.

  • O Healy

    O Healy

    September 13th, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    Connie:”It is a gateway to using other drugs, harder drugs, and it is definitely the gateway for inviting trouble.”

    Lets try making cannabis use legal for a day and stock it in specific stores and see why would any user go to a dealer who would also have hard drugs(and thus the gateway) with him!

    While I’m not saying kids and adolescents should be using it, responsible, adult usage has no problems. The article has a mention of respiratory effects(which is the only effect that holds good for responsible adult users). I please invite everybody to search and learn a little about some wonderful devices called ‘Vaporizers’. Eliminate respiratory effects too! So where is the problem for responsible adult usage??

  • NBM


    September 14th, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Man! How much are they smoking to wind up with lung problems and be taking part in risky sex? I could smoke more weed than my paycheck can handle and all I’d wind up with is a vicious appetite and cotton mouth. That’s it. Get a pizza, guys LOL.

  • t.y.


    September 14th, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    “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.”

    Hey, imagine how badly behaved these 15 year olds would be if they WEREN’T smoking it ROFL. Don’t the researchers know that’s them when they are chilled out? ;)

  • XavierFrost


    September 15th, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    @Maggie: ” Why cope for yourself when Marijuana can do it for you?” That’s the question, yes. Even if weed is very easy to smoke responsibly, what teenagers need to know is that it’s merely a temporary fix. Your problems will still be there once you’re no longer high.

    That is when their brief escape starts to become a serious drug problem that will ruin your life, jobs, and your wallet. They begin looking for a high that’s stronger and longer-lasting.

    I for one don’t buy the argument that marijuana doesn’t lead to using harder drugs.

  • Stanley Olsen

    Stanley Olsen

    September 16th, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    @Connie-You should actually look up the reason that weed is illegal despite being less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. I’ll let you discover that little gem for yourself because I think you’ll be quite surprised at what those trying to oppress a minority can accomplish and how they can keep the problem going for years later.

    Information is power.

  • DixieRiggs


    September 16th, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    @Connie: Sorry but marijuana as a gateway drug is a myth and a lie spread by people who want to keep it illegal through dishonest means and disinformation. If anything is a gateway, it’s underage smoking and drinking done by kids who don’t understand the concept of being responsible. The studies on it are clear: there is no proven link between marijuana and stronger drugs like heroin and crack.

  • Claudette Jameson

    Claudette Jameson

    September 17th, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    @DixieRiggs–There is a link although not as direct as she is surmising there would be. Part of what causes that move from soft to harder drugs doesn’t start with the smoker, but their dealer. The price of cocaine per gram is staggeringly high compared to weed, and a dealer makes more from it. They are businessmen and don’t care who gets hurt or addicted. It’s not unknown for drug dealers to give out free samples to trusted clients to entice them to try other harder drugs.

    The problem is the dealer more than the cannabis. Want to know how to get rid of illegal drug dealers? Legalize it! Ever seen a shady tobacco dealer? Neither have I.

  • Lori Spender

    Lori Spender

    September 17th, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Individuals who can’t handle reality are always the unfortunate souls that turn to drugs and alcohol to get it over with. They are the most susceptible to becoming addicted or hospitalized.

    Parents have to start keeping a better eye on their teenagers to put a stop to drug use and how they are spending their money. Take away their allowance so they can’t get any drugs if you suspect them of it.

  • T.Edwards


    September 18th, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    @Lori Spender -Speaking of allowances, how much do teenagers get nowadays that they can afford to buy drugs with it?? According to the internet it can cost $100/oz for normal weed and up to $450/oz for high-quality weed. That’s not loose change. Heck, I’m 42 years old and I don’t have that much spending money!

    I don’t understand where they get the cash from to purchase it in the first place-unless they are stealing it to support their habit.

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