People with personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder may abuse marijuana to address symptoms. Learn how marijuana may affect the disorder.

Antisocial personality disorder affects an estimated 2% to 4% of men and 0.5% to 1% of women in the United States. The disorder is most common in people between the ages of 24 and 44.

Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed in adulthood and is a personality disorder characterized by:

  • Disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others, beginning by age 15
  • Disregard for the law
  • Disregard for one’s safety or the safety of others
  • Lack of remorse for wrongdoings
  • Lying to others for profit or pleasure
  • Impulsivity or trouble planning
  • Irritability, aggressiveness and getting into physical fights
  • Irresponsibility and inability to hold a job or pay off financial obligations

As many as 8 in 10 people in correctional settings have an antisocial personality disorder.

A 2017 survey shared in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that nearly 15% of adults in the United States used marijuana in the previous year. Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a drug commonly abused by people with an antisocial personality disorder. Marijuana is prescribed for medical purposes in 33 states and is legal for recreational use in 11 states.

Article at a Glance:

  • Antisocial personality disorder affects a small percentage of American adults
  • Almost all individuals with antisocial personality disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder
  • Around 40-50% of people with a substance use disorder meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder
  • More people with antisocial personality disorder abuse cannabis than those without the disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder does not cause cannabis use and cannabis use does not cause the disorder
  • Cannabis use can have positive effects, negative effects and no effect on antisocial personality disorder symptoms
  • Treatment recommendations for antisocial personality disorder and co-occurring cannabis addiction include inpatient rehabilitation, psychiatric assessment, and treatment with therapy, medication and wellness practices

Can Cannabis Use Cause Antisocial Personality Disorder?

No evidence currently suggests cannabis use can cause antisocial personality disorder. The disorder is a psychiatric condition that cannot be induced by a medical condition, medical treatment or substance. Genetics and adverse childhood experiences of abuse and neglect seem to play a role in the development of the disorder. However, the exact causes of antisocial personality disorder are not known.

There are some associations between cannabis and antisocial personality disorder:

  • Around 40-50% of people with a substance use disorder meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder
  • An estimated 12% of individuals with antisocial personality disorder experience cannabis dependence
  • Antisocial personality disorder symptoms are commonly found in people with a lifetime history of cannabis abuse
  • Individuals who abuse cannabis are more likely to break the law

Can Antisocial Personality Disorder Lead to Marijuana Abuse?

Currently, no evidence suggests that antisocial personality disorder can lead to marijuana abuse. However, there are some associations between antisocial personality disorder and marijuana abuse:

  • Approximately 90% of people with antisocial personality disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder
  • Nearly 25% of people with antisocial personality disorder abuse cannabis
  • Antisocial personality disorder is strongly associated with marijuana use and marijuana use disorder

Interestingly, preliminary evidence links decreased activation of the body’s natural cannabinoid system to aggressive psychiatric conditions like an antisocial personality disorder.

Does Marijuana Affect Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms?

  • Positive Effects: Marijuana use can improve aggressive behavior. Marijuana’s positive effects seem to be optimized when consumed: 
    • At a lower dose
    • Via a slower route of administration (e.g., smoking versus eating marijuana)
    • Short-term 
    • In the presence of social supports 
  • Negative Effects: Marijuana use is associated with breaking the law and committing intimate partner violence.
  • No Effect: Marijuana-dependent young adults with antisocial personality disorder and those without may have similar treatment outcomes for substance use disorder.

Why the drug affects people differently remains to be answered. 

Treatment Options for Antisocial Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Marijuana Addiction

If antisocial personality disorder and co-occurring marijuana addiction are present, it is best to treat them simultaneously. Treatment recommendations for both conditions include:

If you or a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder, like an antisocial personality disorder, contact The Recovery Village today. Call to speak with a representative who can guide you through the first steps toward a healthier future. 

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Lauren Weinand
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Lauren Weinand, MD
Dr. Lauren Weinand is an M.D. medical writer/editor. Read more

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.