April 11, 2023

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers!

In today’s edition, a new study finds that 6% of cannabis users have become dependent on the drug, meaning that they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit. In other news, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans youth have twice as much difficulty falling asleep as non-LGBT youth.

Plus: Hip hop has had a strong positive influence on Black men’s health for more than 50 years, Men’s Health magazine reports. Forgiveness aids emotional healing. And more.

Can you become dependent on marijuana?

Can people become addicted to weed? Just ask Ayana Jordan, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone Health. “Just because cannabis is being legalized — and I actually think it should be legalized — it doesn’t mean that there is not any harm associated,” she says. Jordan told the New York Times that though most people who use cannabis (marijuana) are not dependent on it, almost 6 percent of teens and adults have developed a cannabis use disorder.

Cannabis use disorder, however, does not mean someone is “addicted” to marijuana. Although the Times article framed the two terms as interchangeable, they are not. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance use disorder involves dependence, but, NIDA adds, “It is possible to be dependent without being addicted.” In the case of marijuana – which NIDA uses interchangeably with “cannabis” – dependence means that you have withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, restlessness, mood and sleep problems, irritability and discomfort, for up to two weeks after you quit using it. However, NIDA cautions, in some cases “marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.”

Starting cannabis use as a teen is a primary risk factor for developing addiction, according to University of Maryland psychiatrist David Gorelick. “Cannabis use disorder occurs in all age groups, but it’s primarily a disease of young adults,” Gorelick told the Times. “There is evidence that the younger the age at which you start cannabis use, the faster you’ll develop cannabis use disorder and the more severe the disorder will be.” 

To date, no medications have been approved to help people gain relief from marijuana addiction, but motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have shown to help. “You try and deal with triggers,” Jordan said. “You try to really figure out what is the motivation for you to stop using altogether and really strengthen those motivations.”

Sleep challenges are more common for LGBTQ youth

NBC News reports that a study published in LGBT Health found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco surveyed more than 8,500 adolescents ages 10-14 and found that 35% who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual reported difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep in the previous two weeks. Just 13.5% of straight-identifying adolescents reported the same. 

Researchers emphasized that poor sleep can make it tougher for youth to navigate the growth spurts and hormonal changes all adolescents experience. It can also exacerbate mental and emotional struggles LGBTQ youth face due to bullying or discrimination from schoolmates and family. “It’s likely that one feeds off the other — poor sleep worsening mental health issues and mental health issues worsening sleep,” said Matthew Hirschtritt, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente who did not work on the study. (Hirschtritt also co-authored many of MindSite News’ Research Roundup newsletters.)

In other news…

Don’t miss Men’s Health magazine’s inspiring series on hip hop’s 50 years of positive influence on Black men’s health, In this story, it has recapped its series of articles tracing hip hop’s impact from the 1970s to the present. Following the death of a hip-hop star from gun violence in the 1980s and others from HIV in the ’90s, for example, hip hop artists called for action on both those fronts. Hip hop also rallied its audience to take action on poverty and addiction. In recent decades, with reports of Black Americans lagging behind whites in terms of physical activity, rap stars have promoted exercise and sustainable food. And most recently, as the former teen rappers and twenty-something hip hop artists enter middle age (and even beyond), “hip-hop began to embrace aging.”

Ephemera, perhaps your next book read? According to a review from NPR, Briana Loewinsohn’s graphic-novel memoir, Ephemera, is her grief-filled love letter to a mother who struggled with mental illness.

How forgiveness aids emotional healing. Gloria Cisse is a grandmother who lost her grandson after he was run over by an 18-wheeler. She made local news in Macon, Georgia, after forgiving the truck driver responsible for his death. It wasn’t easy. Cisse, who is also the lead therapist at Southern Center for Choice Therapy, told WMAZ-13 “It hurt so intensely, and I couldn’t stop blaming the person.” But such resentment can lead to aggression, anger, and worsened mental health. Forgiveness, she said, was the best decision she could make for herself. “It’s about you because when you learn to forgive and when you get to the place where you can forgive, you can begin your healing.” 

Massachusetts lawmakers have begun to debate whether or not courts should be able to compel citizens into mental health treatment. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic State Sen. Cindy Friedman, told ABC News that it’s necessary to get people who don’t know how sick they are the help they need. Though the bill is in its earliest stages, Gov. Maura Healey, also a Democrat, said she’s open to discussion of the matter. “It’s really important that people have access to the mental health care that they need and also that we balance individual rights in the process,” Healey said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

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Type of work:

Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter and freelance writer. She is the host of COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience, a 2020 project between WDET and Documenting Detroit which won an Edward R. Murrow...