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Association of cannabis, cannabidiol and synthetic cannabinoid use with mental health in UK adolescents

Hotham, James, Cannings-John, Rebecca ORCID:, Moore, Laurence, Hawkins, Jemma ORCID:, Bonell, Chris, Hickman, Matthew, Zammit, Stanley ORCID:, Hines, Lindsey A., Adara, Linda ORCID:, Townson, Julia ORCID: and White, James ORCID: 2023. Association of cannabis, cannabidiol and synthetic cannabinoid use with mental health in UK adolescents. British Journal of Psychiatry 223 (4) , pp. 478-484. 10.1192/bjp.2023.91

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License Start date: 24 July 2023


Background Cannabis has been associated with poorer mental health, but little is known of the effect of synthetic cannabinoids or cannabidiol (often referred to as CBD). Aims To investigate associations of cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids and cannabidiol with mental health in adolescence. Method We conducted a cross-sectional analysis with 13- to 14-year-old adolescents across England and Wales in 2019–2020. Multilevel logistic regression was used to examine the association of lifetime use of cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids and cannabidiol with self-reported symptoms of probable depression, anxiety, conduct disorder and auditory hallucinations. Results Of the 6672 adolescents who participated, 5.2% reported using of cannabis, 1.9% reported using cannabidiol and 0.6% reported using synthetic cannabinoids. After correction for multiple testing, adolescents who had used these substances were significantly more likely to report a probable depressive, anxiety or conduct disorder, as well as auditory hallucinations, than those who had not. Adjustment for socioeconomic disadvantage had little effect on associations, but weekly tobacco use resulted in marked attenuation of associations. The association of cannabis use with probable anxiety and depressive disorders was weaker in those who reported using cannabidiol than those who did not. There was little evidence of an interaction between synthetic cannabinoids and cannabidiol. Conclusions To our knowledge, this study provides the first general population evidence that synthetic cannabinoids and cannabidiol are associated with probable mental health disorders in adolescence. These associations require replication, ideally with prospective cohorts and stronger study designs.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Centre for Trials Research (CNTRR)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Wales Governance Centre (WGCES)
Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists
ISSN: 0007-1250
Funders: Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, The British Heart Foundation, The Centre for the Development and evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 5 June 2023
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 01:34

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