Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Roots of psychiatric disorders

Roots of psychiatric disorders

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, December 1, 2004 12:06 AM

There are parents who do not take the use of marijuana very seriously. They know it isn’t addicting, even if it is habit forming and is surely a gateway to other drugs. When they learn that their teenager has tried it, they will tell me that it isn’t as serious as shabu. They say he only tried it a few times, although they usually have failed to conduct an in depth investigation to verify if, indeed, he has not gotten into it more deeply. They simply take this word for it.

Parents don’t like to accept drug taking in the family. Not only is it socially seen as shameful and against the law, they inevitably see it as a failure in parenting. In short, they are not good parents.

Perhaps, but the truth is that many drug users come from wonderful and caring parents who take their responsibilities very seriously indeed. Despite their best efforts, their child got into the wrong bunch and succumbed to peer pressure.

Other parents have themselves used or experimented with drugs in the past and tell me “I used and got over it.” They assume their teenager will, too. That is, I think, taking chances on the life of a child because the fact is the vast majority of shabu addicts I have treated started out with marijuana.

Now, the prestigious US government agency, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has come out with new research findings that conclude that “early use of drugs (tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs) increases the likelihood of developing psychiatric disorders in the late twenties.”

Studies by Dr. Judith Brook and Dr. David Brook of New York’s Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Dr. Patricia Cohen of Columbia University “provide evidence that substance abuse significantly predicts the later occurrence of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol dependence and substance use disorders (SUDS).”

Says Dr. Brook, “Overall, alcohol and substance abuse during the early years was significantly related to later psychiatric disorders. The cumulative frequency of substance abuse from childhood through early adulthood is strongly associated with episodes of MDD, alcohol dependence and SUDS in the late twenties.”

In addition, the researchers found that “earlier marijuana and tobacco use were each more strongly related to participants’ development of MDD in their late twenties than more recent use of these substances.”

Dr. Brook cites results related to marijuana use as a particularly key finding. “Earlier marijuana use showed substantial effect on later incidence of MDD, alcohol dependence and SUDS…”

And a final strong warning to those who don’t take marijuana use seriously. Dr. Brook says that “use of marijuana during childhood and adolescence should not be treated as benign, but rather may signal the later development of MDD, alcohol dependence and SUDS.”


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