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“Marijuana use disorder” or “cannabis use disorder” is the technical term for what might otherwise be called “marijuana addiction”. Listing marijuana as a “substance use disorder” is relatively new for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Marijuana addiction is a controversial topic. Though many professionals clearly agree and the evidence is inarguable that marijuana can cause a chemical dependency of the mind and body, many others disagree. Some point to marijuana’s medicinal properties and argue that marijuana addiction should not be listed as it could prevent people from seeking it out as a treatment. For the treatment of addiction, some argue that marijuana use saved them from opioid addiction. Some treatment centers are turning to marijuana use as a form of medicinal treatment. Others present the fact that marijuana is a proven addictive substance and giving someone who is inherently prone to addiction an addictive substance to treat addiction is not logically sound.

The likelihood to abuse marijuana and become chemically dependent upon it might have a strong tie to anxiety. Duke University published findings in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry which indicate that anxiety plays a tremendous role in the development of cannabis use disorder.

Just over 1200 people were part of the Great Smoky Mountains Study that followed participants from 1993 to 2015. Researchers at Duke analyzed te data. At various age points, participants were evaluated for their mental health, alcohol consumption, and more. Of the group of participants labeled “persistent” marijuana users, using marijuana daily or more, the participants had a problem with marijuana as young as 9 years old. Their marijuana use was consistent into their thirties. “Significantly, 27 percent of these participants reported anxiety disorders as children,” explains Medical News Today, “and 23 percent did when they were in their late teenage years, or between 19 and 21 years old. They also had the highest levels of psychiatric disorders.”

The development of mental health issues in developmental ages is a common denominator in the abuse of substances. Anxiety in childhood is rarely a stand alone event. Often, developmental psychiatric disorders are caused by a developmental trauma. Trauma can produce anxiety disorders in childhood. Unresolved trauma leads to unresolved anxiety, which can lead to a greater likelihood of substance use and substance dependency.

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