While previous research shows that adults with PTSD were three times more likely to have cannabis dependence compared to those without PTSD, little was known about how teens and young adults are affected until now.
“These findings demonstrate that major adverse life events, such as those seen in persons with PTSD, can contribute to the development of CUD among teenagers and young adults,” said Jack R. Cornelius, M.D., M.P.H., professor of psychiatry and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Researchers examined 693 people over a period of 10 years, 31 of which were diagnosed with PTSD and 161 diagnosed with CUD. The CUD subjects included 136 male and 25 female participants. The average age of onset of the CUD was 16.7 years.
Further analyses showed that PTSD is directly associated with the presence of CUD and with having deviant friends, such as those involved in illegal activities. “These findings suggest PTSD contributes to the development of CUD among teenagers, and therefore it is important to adequately assess for PTSD among young people at risk for CUD,” added Dr. Cornelius.
Co-authors of the study include Duncan B. Clark, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry; Levent Kirisci, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Maureen Reynolds, Ph.D., research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Ralph E. Tarter, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences; and Jeanine Hayes, study coordinator, all from the University of Pittsburgh.
Funding for this research is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.