Cannabis use disorder: epidemiology and management

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;21(2):96-103. doi: 10.1080/09540260902782745.


This paper provides an overview of the epidemiology of cannabis use, cannabis use disorders and its treatment. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug internationally. While use is decreasing in the developed world, it appears to be stable or increasing in developing countries and some indigenous communities. Early initiation and regular adolescent use have been identified as particular risk factors for later problematic cannabis (and other drug) use, impaired mental health, delinquency, lower educational achievement, risky sexual behaviour and criminal offending in a range of studies. It is estimated that approximately one in ten people who had ever used cannabis will become dependent with risk increasing markedly with frequency of use. There has been an increase in the proportion of treatment provided for cannabis use. There are as yet no evidence-based pharmacotherapies available for the management of cannabis withdrawal and craving. Relatively brief cognitive behavioural therapy and contingency management have the strongest evidence of success, and structured, family-based interventions, provide potent treatment options for adolescents. With criminally involved young people and those with severe, persistent mental illness, longer and more intensive therapies provided by interdisciplinary teams may be required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / drug effects*
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Cannabis / adverse effects*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Marijuana Abuse / complications
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • Marijuana Abuse / therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome