Some teens and young adults are addicted to recreational drugs and almost all continue to use marijuana and other drugs despite lives schooled in drug abstinence a new study finds.
Pediatric drug addiction is common for teens and young adults in the United States. Most addicts go through adolescence without experienting the normal consequences of drug use.
We know from prior studies that the onset of drug use in adolescents involvesdrug abuse addiction and dependence said lead author Dr. Rachel A. Chang of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles in a phone interview.
The question has been what makes this adolescent environment in which to engage with addiction Chang said. Weve tried to understand drug use patterns and synthesize the molecular mechanisms that have been identified.
For this study Chang and colleagues analyzed records of substance-abuse patients treated at 12 academic medical centers in the United States. The researchers analyzed biometric data on about 12491 individuals who underwent behavioral exams between December 2013 and May 2019. Of that group 1673 (0. 02 percent) were former users of heroin or cocaine benzodiazepines or alcohol.
Researchers randomly assigned each patient to either moderate-intensity heroin use or to five other drug use control conditions. They then examined how much heroin users used the frequency of use and what medications they used.
More than 90 percent of patients in the two substance-use conditions continued to switch to other substances such as cocaine or marijuana.
But most patients were still heavy heroin users: about 79 percent of those who continued to smoke cigarettes and smoke marijuana were addicted to opioids the team found.
Those who reported no tobacco use showed no marijuana use and had never used the illicit drug were 37 percent less likely to experience addiction and 20 percent less likely to report having used multiple tobacco products.
But people who did smoke used much less than the womans age they reported on a 40-point scale to how addicted they were in that circumstance. And people who used transdermal nicotine was 40 percent more likely to experience addiction.
All told drug users had about 17 times the risk of methadone use 50 times the risk of cocaine use and 53 times the risk of methamphetamine the study found.
Those who used heroin were 33 percent more likely to suffer from an overdose and more than twice as likely to do such a large amount of drugs than non-users.
Those who used crystal meth cocaine or methamphetamine had eight times the risk of an overdose than non-users while nicotine was 42 times greater for cocaine and ketamine was 64 times higher for opiates the research team reported.
Emmett Pardoll a professor at Britains Holy Cross University in Milton Keynes who was not directly involved in the study said the studys findings suggested that addiction prevention efforts should focus on easing withdrawal symptoms rather than just nicotine.
Addiction may be reduced through treatment including abstinence or through paying attention to other salient symptoms and risk factors said Pardoll who researches cocaine use and addiction.
In order to effectively treat addiction treatment should include prevention of dependence Pardoll said by email. Conversely marijuana dependence should not be neglected when treating marijuana addiction.
Marijuana remains the current most common illicit drug among young people researchers note in Am J Psychiatry. In the U. S. about 39. 7 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds in a 2017 survey had used marijuana at some point in the past month researchers found.
But theres no doubt that marijuana is addictive and it is a little bit of a risk driving factor said Dr. Rishi Sen a psychiatry researcher at San Diego State University.
You may think that marijuana is recreational and really fun as a kid and it may have been for a bit of fun Sen who wasnt involved in the study said by email. But from a young persons perspective marijuana is irresponsible behavior.
While other studies have found that marijuana use is more likely to have been overtaken by other addictive behaviors like cocaine and alcohol by teens and young adults Sen said in an email that the studys results must be regarded with caution because it doesnt definitively prove that marijuana use has picked up at least 50 drugs from teenagers.
Its more a mapping the thing that marijuana (use) is most common among adults Sen said. Drug use prevalence in young adult population