Author(s): Fergusson DM, Lynskey MT, Horwood LJ
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Abstract The associations between early onset (prior to 15 years of age) cannabis use and rates of mental health or adjustment problems during the period from 15 to 16 years of age were studied in a New Zealand birth cohort. Early onset cannabis users were at increased risks of later substance use behaviors, conduct/oppositional disorders, juvenile offending, severe truancy, school dropout, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Early cannabis users had odds of these outcomes ranging from 2.7 to 30.8 times higher than the odds for those who did not use cannabis prior to age 15. Most of the elevated risks of early onset users were explained by the fact that they were a high-risk groups of adolescents characterized by family disadvantages, early adjustment problems, and high affiliations with substance-using or delinquent peers. Nonetheless, even after adjustment for a wide range of confounding factors, early onset users had increased risks of later cannabis use. It is concluded that while most of the elevated risks of early onset users were explained by social, family, and individual characteristics of this group, early onset users were at increased risks of later cannabis use.
This article was published in J Abnorm Child Psychol
and referenced in Journal of Mental Disorders and Treatment