Cannabis Use Disorder as a Developmental Disorder

  • Rachel L. TomkoEmail author
  • Amber N. Williamson
  • Aimee L. McRae-Clark
  • Kevin M. Gray


The prevalence of cannabis use disorder (CUD) varies with age. Adolescents are particularly susceptible to negative consequences associated with heavy cannabis use. In this chapter, the age-related trends in CUD are discussed. Neurobiological risk factors associated with increased risk of developing a CUD are also discussed, including impulsivity/disinhibition, emotional dysregulation, and sensitivity to the rewarding properties of cannabis. Environmental risk factors such as low parental monitoring, parental cannabis use, and association with peers who use cannabis may contribute to cannabis use initiation in adolescence, indirectly influencing the development of CUD. Evidence for behavioral and pharmacological treatments for adolescent CUD is reviewed. More research is available on behavioral treatments for adolescent CUD, and these are often the first-line treatment options. Emerging evidence suggests promising pharmacological adjuncts for the treatment of adolescent CUD, however. Preliminary data examining these pharmacological treatments suggests that effective treatments for adults may not be appropriate or effective for adolescents and vice versa, though further research is necessary.


Cannabis Cannabis use disorder Marijuana Adolescence Developmental pathways 



Cognitive behavioral therapy


Cannabis use disorder


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


Ecological family-based therapy




Substance use disorder


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel L. Tomko
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amber N. Williamson
    • 1
  • Aimee L. McRae-Clark
    • 1
  • Kevin M. Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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