A Startling Trend
Young adults are using medical marijuana at an increasing rate and it’s a group of patients that I’d like to recognize and support. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that 1 in 3 of all adolescents will experience an anxiety disorder. Sadly, these numbers have been steadily rising as have the rate of hospitalizations in youths for thoughts of suicide or self harm.
The young adults of today have an increasing pressure to “succeed” in an increasingly competitive world. Life is tough for all of us, but the 18-22 year olds of today face challenges that were unimaginable 20 years ago.
And that was all before Covid-19.
A recent study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the rate of anxiety has tripled and depression quadrupled since the pandemic outbreak. Unfortunately, young adults aged 18-24 were hit the hardest with 75% of them reporting at least one adverse mental health condition.
As a mom of three young adults…
The uptick in this demographic over the last few months has not gone unnoticed. My concern for these patient’s well being is maternal and my empathy for the parents that accompany them is heartfelt.
First and foremost, I must commend these young adults. They recognize their struggles, are asking for help, and are seeking an alternative method to anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication. They are being proactive in their health and educating themselves on their treatment options.
What we haven’t seen is a mass influx of youth and young adults looking to just get high. The American Journal of Public Health looked at cannabis use amongst youth in the years before and after legalization. The study concluded that both medical and recreational marijuana policies have not led to any significant rise in youths using marijuana. Similar results were found in multiple other studies strengthening the validity of the report.
Second, and just as important, these patients are most often accompanied by a parent. Sometimes the parent is a patient themselves and they are present for moral support and a second ear. Other times they are anxious and reluctant, but open minded to listening and learning. I know we have done our job when these parents leave relieved, informed and hopeful.
A Shift in Thought
From the recent studies done and from my own experience in the office, we are seeing an effective paradigm shift in healthcare. Legally, it shows these policies are working as they are intended to with qualified patients seeking treatment. Medically, patients are getting off prescription medications or are choosing alternative treatments before even starting down a pharmaceutical path.
Albert Einstein once observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
Medical cannabis is not an end-all, be-all medication. However, the mental health crisis and pharmaceutical epidemic of old require a new level of thinking and medical cannabis has shown to be a great alternative well worth exploring.
There is a learning curve and patient experimentation required for successful treatment, but as a mother who was once against cannabis use, I can sincerely say the results I see speak for themselves and have made me a believer in the benefits of medical cannabis.
NIH. “Any Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml#part_155096.
Plemmons, Gregory. “Children’s Hospitals Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts, Actions Double during Past Decade.” American Academy of Pediatrics, 19 Aug. 2020, www.aappublications.org/news/2017/05/04/PASSuicide050417.
Times, High. “Study Shows Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Impact Youth Cannabis Use.” 420 Intel, 17 Aug. 2020, 420intel.com/articles/2020/08/17/study-shows-cannabis-legalization-doesn%E2%80%99t-impact-youth-cannabis-use.
Wiley, Joshua F., et al. “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 24–30, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2020, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm?fbclid=IwAR09yp1JfWfVHolc64DagzizQEnaJSTkkHv2fRuWqgzujw0cDlJWcGLVAVs.