A new study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco has found that individuals who use both cannabis and tobacco have significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to those who use either substance alone or not at all. The study, published in the online journal PLOS ONE, aimed to understand the association between the use of both drugs and mental health in order to develop more effective prevention and treatment options.
The researchers utilized data from the COVID-19 Citizen Science Study, a mobile app developed by UCSF researchers that collected information on mental health status and substance use from participants across the United States. They analyzed responses from 53,843 Americans over a 30-day period and paired this with monthly assessments of their mental health status.
Among individuals who used both cannabis and tobacco, 26.5% reported experiencing anxiety and 28.3% reported depression. In comparison, the percentages for anxiety and depression were only 10.6% and 11.2% in individuals who used neither substance. Additionally, those who only used tobacco had higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to those who did not use either substance.
The study did not examine whether mental health conditions were triggered or exacerbated by the use of cannabis or tobacco, or vice versa. However, the senior author of the study, Dr. Gregory Marcus, noted that although some believe cannabis can mitigate the negative effects of tobacco, the data suggests that the combination of both substances is particularly harmful to mental health.
This research highlights the importance of addressing the association between dual use of cannabis and tobacco and mental health. Not only is it crucial to provide mental health treatment, but support for the cessation of tobacco and cannabis use should also be integrated. By understanding these comorbidities, healthcare professionals can develop more comprehensive strategies to support individuals in achieving better mental health outcomes.
Source: University of California – San Francisco
Journal Reference: Nguyen, N., et al. (2023). Associations between tobacco and cannabis use and anxiety and depression among adults in the United States: Findings from the COVID-19 citizen science study. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0289058.