Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jun 2013
Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Copyright: 2013 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC
Author: Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, Mayo Clinic psychiatrist
Referenced: Medical Marijuana Not the Answer for Teens with Chronic 
Pain, Mayo Clinic Doctors Say: press release: 

Mayo Clinic Commentary


An increasingly available option for medical patients suffering 
chronic pain -- medical marijuana -- should be avoided by teens, Mayo 
Clinic researchers say in an upcoming publication.

A commentary, to be published in the July issue of Mayo Clinic 
Proceedings, relies on findings from cases involving three high 
school-age patients at Mayo's pediatric chronic pain clinic, who said 
they used marijuana regularly.

Despite their use, the teens' pain worsened. They reported impaired 
function and had difficulty becoming more socially active, according 
to a summary of the report.

Fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, impaired concentration and slower 
reaction times are all common adverse effects of excessive marijuana 
use, and use of the drug before age 16 has been linked to earlier 
development of psychosis and to persistent cognitive damage in certain users.

In light of the fact that there are few studies regarding the risks 
and benefits of marijuana therapy for patients of any age, including 
teens, using it may simply not be worth the associated risks, the study says.

"The consequences may be very, very severe, particularly for 
adolescents who may get rid of their pain -- or not -- at the expense 
of the rest of their life," said psychiatrist and co-author Dr. J. 
Michael Bostwick, in a written statement.

"If you're a pain patient, and you're using this drug or others, 
narcotics as well, one of the side-effects is to be 'out of it' -- 
and 'out of it' when the goal of a pain rehab program is actually to 
get you 'into it,'" Bostwick said. "The whole point is function 
restoration, not further functional decline."

Co-authors with Bostwick are Dr. Tracy E. Harrison, Dr. Barbara K. 
Bruce, Dr. Karen E. Weiss and Dr. Teresa A. Rummans.

Medical marijuana "may help some specific conditions," the clinic 
notes. The researchers recommend that pain doctors screen teens for 
marijuana use, and that care teams focus on helping teens improve 
their functional abilities even in the face of pain.

"If you will not work on your life until your pain is gone, then 
you're probably going to be stuck for a very long time, because the 
kinds of chronic pain that show up in pain clinics tend to not ever 
completely go away," Bostwick said. "They tend to be managed. People 
have to learn to get on with their lives even despite the pain."
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