More and more you read or hear that marijuana is safe and that it “helps my anxiety”. I run an opiate addiction clinic, where most are there to get off heroin, and most also smoke marijuana, saying it helps their anxiety. The study “Immediate Antecedents of Marijuana Use: An Analysis from Ecological Momentary Assessment,” (which you can read here… ) looked at marijuana craving, peer use, and anxiety over multiple assessment times daily for two weeks.
Here are some of the findings:
- Marijuana use days were associated with higher craving for marijuana.
- There was higher anxiety prior to using marijuana and it did not decrease significantly following use.
- Craving can increase anxiety.
- Anxiety was related to marijuana withdrawal.
- Those using marijuana for anxiety may get short term relief but anxiety returns.
- 1/3 reported greater anxiety during marijuana use.
- 1/3 reported greater anxiety during non-use of marijuana.
For the 1/3 who perceived less anxiety with marijuana, it seems likely they are physically dependent or addicted and the vicious cycle of withdrawal anxiety becoming better with use only to withdraw again is driving the THC use. Clearly not all individuals get an anti-anxiety benefit, and for many, it will cause anxiety or worse psychological symptoms.
To answer the question, does it help or hurt anxiety: for 1/3 of users it helps, but only temporarily, and then worsens the cycle of anxiety.