Tag Archives: SAMHSA

Surgeon General, HHS Secretary issue blunt warnings About Marijuana

Parents from every part of the country tell us that their teens claim “marijuana is safer than alcohol.”  That’s because many teens take messages from social media and fake news.

The Surgeon General and Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a blunt warning today, clarifying why cannabis is not safe.  Together with the heads of SAMHSA and NIDA, Dr. Jerome Adams and HHS Secretary Alex Azar spoke at a Press Conference today, detailing the risks of pot.

Continue reading Surgeon General, HHS Secretary issue blunt warnings About Marijuana

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Latest survey raises concern about pot

On August 20, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2018  Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use. According to the survey, 45,000 more teenagers are regularly using the drug, marijuana users are more likely to abuse opioids than non-users, and levels of marijuana use disorder continue to rise. 

According to the study, approximately 4.4 million people aged 12 and older had a marijuana use disorder in the last year. Breaking this out further, 2.1 percent of youths aged 12-17, 5.9 percent of young adults aged 18-25, and 0.9 percent of adults 26 and older suffered from a marijuana use disorder. The percentage of young adults with a marijuana use disorder is significantly higher than last year and is the highest it has been since 2004.

At the same time, the mental health problems in young adults ages 18-25 are growing. This age group that suffers the most from cannabis use disorder.  It’s hard not to see the mental crisis is related to the increasing use of marijuana and the increased potency of the marijuana that has come with legalization.  Mental health care is the weakest link in our health care system and the increase in drug use exacerbates the issue. Last year it was found that

The latest statistics

The data on use in American youth aged 12-17 show an upward trend in use rates over the last few years, with use among this population at 12.5 percent. According to the report, about 1 in 8 (or 3.1 million) adolescents were past year users of marijuana. Almost 12 million young Americans 18-25 (34.8 percent) reported past year use. This percentage is on par with 2017 levels and continues to represent the highest level of use in the past 25 years. 

Additionally, the study found 15.4 percent of past year daily marijuana users reported past year opioid misuse, 19.1 percent reported past month heavy alcohol use, 17.1 percent reported past year cocaine use, 4.1 percent reported past year methamphetamine use, 17.9 percent reported a major depressive episode, and 14 percent reported a serious mental illness.  Continue reading Latest survey raises concern about pot

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Large new study shows teen cannabis use risk for later depression

Leaders of the Parents Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s feared their children’s pot use led to apathy, lower grades and other drugs. The old concerns remain, but the new anti-pot Parents Movement warns more about the fact that marijuana may lead to severe forms of mental illness.  A new study confirms that teen marijuana use increases depression and the risk for suicide in young adulthood.

According to the study, the odds of developing depression are 37% higher in young adults up to age 32 who used marijuana as teens, compared to those who did not. The odds of a young adult thinking about suicide were 50% higher in those who smoked pot as teens. The odds of a suicide attempt were almost 3.5 times higher in the pot smokers versus those who didn’t use marijuana. Continue reading Large new study shows teen cannabis use risk for later depression

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Dr. McKeganey Warned of the Marijuana – Mental Illness Link

PSA Warning Issued in 2005 was Ignored

Eleven years ago the ONDCP and SAMHSA held a press conference to inform of research that confirms what many families already knew–that marijuana use was a trigger for psychosis and mental illness.

The ONDCP is the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  Each agency has a crucial role in trying to ascertain usage and reduce demand for drugs.

Specifically, Dr. Neil McKehaney from the University of Glasgow came to the US and spoke at the national Press Club on May 5, 2005. The agencies went to great effort to share important information.  A video was recently found online.

Coverup of the Marijuana – Mental Illness  Risk

At this same Press Conference, a couple who had lost their 15-year-old son to suicide due to the mental health problems arising from marijuana use, spoke.  The Press covered the story, but did not use their considerable investigative skills to probe into what those parents and Dr. McKenagey were describing.  It is true that about one quarter of American high school students are depressed, which points to multiple problems of American culture, not just drugs. However, knowing how vulnerable teens are, and then not exposing the factors that could make their outcomes worse, is lamentable.

In addition to depression, anxiety and suicide, there are the risks of psychosis, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia that arise from marijuana use.  Pot proponents love to state that anyone who has a psychotic reaction to pot already had the problem before they used it.  They tend to blame family members for not  wanting to admit  mental health problems, and argue that pot is used as a scapegoat.

Several studies have shown a link between marijuana and schizophrenia.  Explains pharmacologist Christine Miller, Ph.D:  “No one is destined to develop schizophrenia. With identical twins, one can develop the disease and the other one will do so only 50% of the time, illustrating the importance of environmental factors in the expression of the disease.  Marijuana is one of those environmental factors and it is one we can do something about.”

A Missed Opportunity

One person who worked in the office of ONDCP Director John Walters told Parents Opposed to Pot, “They accused us of being pot-crazy during a time when there was a methamphetamine crisis going on.  Marijuana is almost always the first drug introduced to young people and the evidence for the mental health risks were very strong by 2005.  Although pot was getting stronger as it is today, the warning was falling on deaf ears.  Members of Congress wanted us to focus on the meth crisis, but marijuana was a growing issue and we had a myriad of issues.”

This Public Service Announcement reached audiences in the Press, and some newspapers and magazines reported about it.  Since the Internet and search engines were not as they are  today,  few parents, children,  schools and mental health professionals took notice.   (Did the marijuana lobbying groups bully and try squelch the information?)

Lori Robinson, whose son suffered the mental health consequences of marijuana said:  “I will always deeply regret Shane not hearing this PSA .  Shane was a smart, gregarious and fun-loving young man who naively began using pot never knowing he was playing Russian roulette with his brain in ’05-’06 at the age of 19.   Dr McKeganey so clearly stated that the public views marijuana as harmless, not realizing the potency of THC was rising while the “antipsychotic” property of CBD was being bred out.  Sadly, despite both parents never used an illegal drug in our lives, our son assumed that since a few of his friend had smoked in high school, it was just a “harmless herb.”   Shane’s story is on the Moms Strong website.

Robinson added, “This video is absolutely current TODAY.  Let’s keep this video circulating & it WILL save young brains & families the destruction that lies ahead when marijuana hijacks your kid’s brain.

The research has expanded since that time and scientific evidence on each of the following outcomes from marijuana use is voluminous: marijuana & psychosis, marijuana & violence and marijuana & psychiatric disorders.

Lessons to be Learned

Lives could have been saved, and so many cases of depression, psychotic breakdowns and crimes could have been prevented – if the public had become more aware back in 2005.   Congress, the Press and most of all, the American psychiatric community was wrong to ignore the warnings that were issued with this PSA.

Let’s not continue to ignore  the evidence. Today in the US, mental health is worse than it’s ever been, and the promotion of drug usage may be a huge factor in this problem.  Harm reduction in preference to primary prevention strategies is practiced in many jurisdictions.  Drug overdose deaths have overtaken gun violence deaths and traffic fatalities in the USA — by far — under this strategy.

Today Dr. McKeganey is the Director of the Center for Substance Use Research in Glasgow.

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