• Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideSlideshow: Medical Marijuana

Slideshow: Medical Marijuana

Can marijuana abuse and addiction be prevented?

In order to prevent marijuana use, abuse, and addiction, an understanding of the risk factors for those issues is essential. In teens, availability of marijuana in their environment, as well as a tendency to engage in negative behaviors (deviancy) increase the likelihood of marijuana use. For some adolescents, using legal substances like alcohol and tobacco can be gateway drugs for marijuana use, in that the use of those substances increases the likelihood that the teen will use marijuana.

What is the prognosis of marijuana abuse and addiction?

While many people with a marijuana-use disorder successfully stop using it with outpatient psychotherapy that provides motivation and teaches coping skills, the relapse rate is quite high. However, when treatment is provided frequently, that statistic improves. Individuals who begin smoking marijuana before 17 years of age seem to be more than three times more likely to attempt suicide than those who either never use the substance or do so after the age of 17. That risk goes the other way as well, in that people who develop depression or have thoughts of suicide before the age of 17 seem to be at a much higher risk of developing an addiction to marijuana. People who are vulnerable to developing psychosis (for example, having hallucinations like seeing things or hearing voices that aren't there; or delusions, like unfounded beliefs that others are trying to harm him or her) may be more likely to do so if marijuana is used, even on a medicinal basis. Marijuana abuse or addiction is also associated with a much higher risk of developing a dependence on other drugs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015

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