This study tested whether increases in recent and cumulative cannabis use were each associated with increases in internalizing problems from adolescence to young adulthood. Participants were boys from a community sample that was assessed annually from ~age 15–26 (N = 506). Boys reported on their cannabis use, depression symptoms, and anxiety/depression problems each year. Exposures were frequency of cannabis use in a given year (no use, < weekly use, weekly or more frequent use) and cumulative prior years of weekly cannabis use. Outcomes were depression symptoms and anxiety/depression problems in a given year. Analyses examined within-person associations between changes in exposures and outcomes over time, which eliminated “fixed” (unchanging) individual differences as potential confounds. Analyses also accounted for time-varying factors as potential confounds (other substance use, externalizing problems, subclinical psychotic symptoms). Results showed that increases in recent cannabis use and cumulative prior years of weekly cannabis use were each associated with increases in depression symptoms and anxiety/depression problems. After controlling for time-varying covariates, increases in cumulative prior years of weekly cannabis use, but not recent cannabis use, remained associated with increases in depression symptoms and anxiety/depression problems. Specifically, each additional year of prior weekly cannabis use was associated with a small increase in depression symptoms (b = 0.012, p =.005) and anxiety/depression problems (b = 0.009, p =.001). Associations did not vary systematically across time. There was also no evidence of reverse causation. As boys engaged in weekly cannabis use for more years, they showed increases in internalizing problems, suggesting the importance of preventing chronic weekly cannabis use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health