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Marijuana Dependence is on the Rise Among Americans

Marijuana Dependence is on the Rise Among Americans

Just a decade ago, beds in addiction treatment centers were rarely filled with patients struggling with marijuana abuse. The majority of patients were people battling alcohol or opioid addiction and most were adults.

But times have changed.

The number of people seeking treatment for marijuana addiction has surged over the past decade. Patients presenting with marijuana addiction are now accounting for nearly 40% of admissions in some treatment facilities, showing an increase of 13%. Even more disturbing is health insurance data that shows a 180% increase in marijuana treatment claims between 2012 and 2018. Many of these claims involve adolescents and adults under the age of 26.

What factors are contributing to the rise in marijuana addiction?

“The toxicity (of marijuana) is certainly less. And the severity of the substance use disorder tends to be less severe than what you can do to yourself with alcohol and heroin. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.” – Itai Danovitch, ASAM fellow and Psychiatry Chairman at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

With marijuana now legal for medical usage in the majority of states in our country, there is now a common misperception that marijuana is completely safe to use. Fueling this inaccurate interpretation is the fact that there have been no reported deaths due to cannabis use. Finally, the potentially “Off the charts” growth of the CBD market suggests that the entire marijuana industry is poised for continued growth.

These factors have combined to produce a significant increase in the rates of Cannabis Use Disorder, especially in states that have legalized marijuana. The spike was particularly pronounced among people over 26 and those under the age of 17.

What are the consequences of marijuana abuse?

Misuse of marijuana can lead to a variety of unpleasant consequences that can destroy relationships and cause long-term harm. Topping the list of problems is the increased risk of developing Cannabis Use Disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30% of people who use marijuana meet the criteria for a marijuana use disorder. In addition to this statistic, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that people who misuse marijuana are at increased risk for the following:

  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and psychotic episodes
  • Impaired athletic performance exhibited by decreased coordination and slower movements
  • Relationship challenges and problems at work or school
  • Pregnancy difficulties and an increased likelihood for fetal growth restriction and stillbirth among pregnant women
  • Driving problems due to slowed reaction time and difficulty reacting to stimuli while driving

In addition to these risks, people who abuse marijuana may turn to theft and other risky behaviors to support their drug habit. These behaviors may result in a host of legal problems and can impact a person’s ability to secure employment and forge trusted relationships.

What are the risks among adolescents and young adults?

“Although increasing legalization of marijuana has contributed to the growing belief that marijuana is harmless, research documents the risks of its use by youth are grave. Marijuana is addicting, has adverse effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes.” – American College of Pediatricians 

The risks of marijuana abuse among adolescents are particularly alarming. As marijuana continues to gain traction in our society, adolescents and young adults are using it – often out of curiosity. Unfortunately for some teens, casual usage can steadily spin out of control, paving the way for full-blown dependence and addiction. Here is a look at some of the risks associated with regular marijuana use among adolescents:

  • A decline in IQ that could be as much as 8 points
  • Poor judgment that may lead to risky, unhealthy behaviors
  • Experimentation with other drugs such as LSD
  • A rise in psychotic disorders that is linked to frequency of use and marijuana potency

What is the best way to treat marijuana addiction?

Marijuana addiction and cannabis use disorder will rarely resolve on their own. The best way to help someone conquer marijuana abuse or addiction is to seek the guidance of an experienced medical doctor with a proven track record of success battling chemical dependency. An experienced substance abuse doctor can effectively evaluate a person’s condition and suggest a customized course of treatment that involves one or more of the following:

  • A comprehensive substance abuse assessment to help determine the extent of a person’s marijuana use
  • A safe detox program conducted in an outpatient setting under the supervision of trained medical professionals
  • Medication management in the case of patients who present with dual diagnoses or other medical problems
  • Individual therapy to help marijuana addicts recognize behavioral triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms
  • Intensive outpatient treatment designed to provide support to patients and help them remain drug free

With the help of a trained substance abuse expert and a supportive outpatient treatment program, patients can successfully transition from a life of chemical dependency to a life of sobriety and productivity. Most importantly, a professional treatment program will involve the aftercare support that is often needed to help promote a lifetime of freedom from marijuana and other substances.

The Bottom Line

Marijuana dependence is more prevalent than ever in America. Failure to seek professional treatment promptly can lead to devastating consequences and negatively impact your long-term health. Fortunately, you can minimize these risks by seeking professional treatment right away.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana dependence, the single best step to take is to reach out to the Center for Addiction Medicine in Las Vegas. Founded in 1998 by Dr. Michael S. Levy, the Center for Addiction Medicine offers a unique personalized treatment approach that has helped thousands of Americans overcome marijuana dependency.

We encourage you to contact us today to discover why people across the United States turn to Dr. Levy and his team for help with their substance abuse struggles. We welcome new patients and look forward to helping you regain control of your life!

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