A recent study conducted by an international team of researchers revealed that habituated cannabis users, who smoked pot regularly over a longer period of time, fared worse at midlife compared to their parents.
The research was aimed at examining the economic and social consequences of cannabis usage over a prolonged duration of time. According to the researchers, persistent marijuana users are likely to experience greater financial and work-related difficulties in midlife than those who are not addicted at all or have used it only occasionally. Habituated cannabis users also dealt with relationship troubles, anti-social behavior in the workplace, lack of motivation and bout of depression in adolescence, which worsened as years of regular use continued.
The long-term research was carried out on a sample of 947 people from New Zealand belonging to different socio-economic classes, from skilled professionals to unskilled laborers. They were checked on and interviewed periodically, at the age of 3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32, till the age of 38. The researchers combed through the large volume of data and compiled the results to find that people who smoked cannabis for four or more days of the week over several years experienced downward social progression. Such people ended up with jobs that paid less, required fewer skills and were less prestigious.
18% (173 participants), were examined to be marijuana reliant in at least one phase of the research; additionally 15 % (140 participants) fell into the regular cannabis use categories, in at least one phase of the research. Those results were also comparable with constant cannabis dependence and constant regular cannabis use.
The research also tried to do a comparative analysis between the consequences of marijuana abuse and alcohol abuse. As per the common belief, marijuana is considered less harmful than alcohol when it comes to health, but the research shows that marijuana users are at a greater risk of serious declines in social class and financial well-being than those who are dependent on alcohol.
According to the researchers, the study was carried out to spread awareness about the dreadful consequences of persistent cannabis usage. Although there have been previous studies in the field of cannabis abuse, it’s the first detailed study that tracks and analyses various factors including the participants’ intelligence, family structure, gender, ethnicity, parental substance abuse, criminal convictions and antisocial behavior over a period of almost four decades. As it accounts for such a wide variety of parameters, the researchers claim that the conclusions derived from it are stronger than all the previous attempts.
Study has been published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.