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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2001 Nov 1;64(3):347-61.

The natural course of cannabis use, abuse and dependence over four years: a longitudinal community study of adolescents and young adults.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology, Kraepelinstrasse 2, 80804 Munich, Germany.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine incidence and patterns of natural course of cannabis use and disorders as well as cohort effects in a community sample of adolescents and young adults.

METHOD:

Cumulative incidence and patterns of cannabis use and disorders were examined in a prospective longitudinal design (mean follow-up period=42 months) in a representative sample (N=2446) aged 14-24 years at the outset of the study. Patterns of cannabis use, abuse and dependence (DSM-IV) were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (M-CIDI).

RESULTS:

(1) Cumulative lifetime incidence for cannabis use (at second follow-up): 47%; 5.5% for cannabis abuse, 2.2% for dependence. (2) Men used and abused cannabis more often than women. (3) The majority of the older participants (18-24 years at baseline) had reduced their cannabis use at follow-up, while younger participants (14-17 years at baseline) more often had increased their use and developed abuse or dependence. (4) The younger birth cohort (1977-1981) tended to start earlier with substance (ab)use compared to the older birth cohort (1970-1977). (5) Cannabis use was associated with increasing rates of concomitant use of other licit and illicit drugs.

CONCLUSIONS:

Cannabis use is widespread in our sample, but the probability of developing cannabis abuse or dependence is relatively low (8%). The natural course of cannabis use is quite variable: about half of all cannabis users stopped their use spontaneously in their twenties, others report occasional or more frequent use of cannabis.

PMID:
11672949
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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