Mothers Can Transfer Risk for Marijuana Addiction to Daughters
Cannabis use disorder is the official American Psychiatric Association designation for diagnosable substance abuse and/or substance addiction associated with consumption of a cannabis product (marijuana, hashish or hashish oil). In a study published in March 2015 in the journal Addiction, researchers from the Oregon Research Institute assessed the impact that parents diagnosed with this disorder have on the odds that their children will develop diagnosable cannabis problems. These researchers concluded that the children of parents with cannabis use disorder have increased chances of developing the disorder themselves by the time they reach their mid-20s.
Cannabis Use Disorder
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) developed the cannabis use disorder diagnosis in 2013 as part of a larger reconsideration of the nature of the relationship between substance abuse and substance addiction. Traditionally, doctors have viewed diagnosable substance abuse as a separate issue from diagnosable substance addiction. However, current scientific findings contradict this way of thinking and point to a significant amount of overlap between abuse symptoms and addiction symptoms. In response to mounting evidence of this overlap, the APA created the concept of substance use disorder, which covers all symptoms of substance abuse and all symptoms of substance addiction. Cannabis use disorder is the subtype of substance use disorder specifically intended for the diagnosis of cannabis-related issues.
Cannabis use disorder has 11 symptoms, which include a recurring inability to limit the amount or duration of cannabis intake, devotion of a disproportionate amount of life resources to cannabis-related activities, repeated intake of cannabis in situations that pose a risk to self or others, recurring cravings for cannabis consumption between periods of active use, rising tolerance to the effects of cannabis and recurring exposure to clearly negative circumstances as a result of cannabis use. In its mildest form, the disorder involves just two or three out of 11 symptoms; conversely, in its most severe form, it involves at least six symptoms.
Known At-Risk Groups
When all marijuana/cannabis consumers are pooled together, roughly nine out of 100 will eventually develop a diagnosable case of cannabis use disorder, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports. However, this is just the general level of risk. Roughly 17 out of every 100 teenagers who consume marijuana/cannabis on even a casual basis will qualify for a cannabis use disorder diagnosis either now or in the future. In addition, approximately 25 to 50 of every 100 habitual marijuana/cannabis consumers (i.e., people who use the drug every day or almost every day) will eventually merit a diagnosis of the disorder. By logical extension, habitual teen users of marijuana/cannabis fall into a particularly high-risk category.
Can Parents Transfer Problems to Their Children?
In the study published in Addiction, the Oregon Research Institute used data gathered from 719 people and their parents to help determine if a parent with cannabis use disorder can effectively transfer risks for developing the condition to his or her children. The researchers first assessed the children enrolled in the study when those children were teenagers; the final assessment occurred when the children were in their early to mid-20s.
After reviewing the histories of each parent/child grouping, the researchers concluded that the children of parents with cannabis use disorder have significantly increased chances of developing their own case of the disorder between adolescence and early adulthood. The researchers also concluded that children’s risks for cannabis use disorder rise if their parents have a history of a mental health condition called antisocial personality disorder or a history of problems with substances such as alcohol, cocaine or opioid drugs or medications.
The risks for transmitting cannabis problems from parent to child are not equally distributed. For example, young women with mothers affected by cannabis use disorder have clearly higher risks for cannabis problems than their counterparts whose mothers have no diagnosable cannabis-related issues. Conversely, young men with mothers affected by cannabis use disorder don’t appear to develop the disorder any more often than their counterparts whose mothers have no diagnosable cannabis-related issues. In addition, the researchers could not establish a clear link between children’s gender and their fathers’ history of cannabis problems.