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Marijuana Use Tied to Self-Harm, All-Cause Death in Youth With Mood Disorders

FRIDAY, Jan. 29, 2021 -- Youth with mood disorders who use marijuana are at higher risk for death and self-harm, according to a study published online Jan. 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Cynthia A. Fontanella, Ph.D., from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues examined associations of cannabis use disorder (CUD) with self-harm, suicide, and overall mortality risk in youth with mood disorders. The analysis used Ohio Medicaid claims data to identify 204,780 young people (aged 10 to 24 years) with a diagnosis of mood disorders and linked to death certificates.

The researchers found that CUD was documented for 10.3 percent of youth with mood disorders and was significantly associated with older age (14 to 18 years versus 10 to 13 years: adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 9.35; 19 to 24 years versus 10 to 13 years: aRR, 11.22), male sex (aRR, 1.79), Black race (aRR, 1.39), bipolar or other mood disorders (bipolar disorders: aRR, 1.24; other mood disorders: aRR, 1.20), prior history of self-harm (aRR, 1.66), previous mental health outpatient visits (aRR, 1.26), psychiatric hospitalizations (aRR, 1.66), and mental health emergency department visits (aRR, 1.54). There were also associations noted between CUD and nonfatal self-harm (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 3.28) and all-cause mortality (aHR, 1.59), including death by unintentional overdose (aHR, 2.40) and homicide (aHR, 3.23).

"These findings should be considered as states contemplate legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, both of which are associated with increased CUD," the authors write.

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Posted: January 2021

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