Two Sides of the Same Coin

Cannabis Dependence and Mental Health Problems in Help-Seeking Adolescent and Young Adult Outpatients

Melissa M. Norberg, Robert A. Battisti, Jan Copeland, Daniel F. Hermens, Ian B. Hickie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the current study was to delineate the psychiatric profile of cannabis dependent young people (14-29 years old) with mental health problems (N = 36) seeking treatment via a research study. To do so, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Childhood Diagnoses were used to obtain DSM-IV diagnoses, while a modified Timeline Followback interview and self-reports were used to measure cannabis use, cannabis-related problems, and impairment. Most individuals had at least two Axis I disorders in addition to cannabis dependence. Anxiety disorders were common, with posttraumatic stress disorder, social phobia, and generalised anxiety disorder accounting for the majority of these diagnoses. On average, young people reported a moderate degree of dependence and functional impairment, and a substantial number of cannabis-related problems. Although both males and females reported using similar quantities of cannabis per month, females reported using cannabis more frequently than males. The current data suggest that young people who present for cannabis use treatment in the context of a mental health issue may have a variety of psychiatric problems that need addressed and that males and females may have slightly different profiles. If cannabis use treatments are to advance for this population, more attention needs to be paid to the complex issues that young people present to treatment with.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-828
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

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