The Etiology of Cannabis Dependence

Different factors predict the onset or severity of cannabis use and the progression to abuse and dependence. Some models emphasis individual morality and conscious choice, biological or disease vulnerability, behavioral learning patterns, cultural-environmental constructs, and biopsychosocial impacts. The latter views cannabis use and dependence as a complex interaction of all these factors, serving to exacerbate the problem. In this regard, the risk factor typology on the initiation of cannabis use and frequency of use in adolescents and young adults, derived from previous research has derived four major predictive variables, i.e. social-environmental variables, substance-related variables, interpersonal variables, and intrapersonal variables (von Sydow, Lieb, Pfister, Hoffler, & Wittchen, 2002). In this regard, social-environmental variables include the male gender, low social-economic status in childhood, and adverse life events. On the other hand, substance-related factors include tobacco use, alcohol use, alcohol use disorders, attitudes towards drug use, drug use opportunities, and peers use of nicotine and/or cannabis. Intrapersonal factors include personality attributes, such as psychological problems of low self-esteem, loneliness, and high unconventionality and novelty seeking. Other intrapersonal variables include psychopathology (such as mental, mood, and anxiety disorders) as well as childhood factors such as behavior problems, social incompetence, and insecurity. Finally, interpersonal variables entails the current family, such as low caring family, low parental attachment, low identification with parents, leaving family home by the age of 18 and father smoking. Others include children family situation, such as single-parenting, impaired parent-child relationships, dysfunctional family climate, sexual abuse, parental history of alcohol problems, or illicit drug use (von Sydow et al, 2002, p. 50).