Marijuana is the substance most often used and abused in the United States, not including alcohol.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 18 million Americans over the age of 12 said that they used the drug in the past month and that about 4.2 million Americans met the criteria for a diagnosis of marijuana abuse or addiction, a number that is higher than the number of people addicted to heroin, cocaine, painkillers, sedatives and hallucinogens combined.

Additionally, SAMHSA found that:

  • About 461,000 visits to the emergency room across the country were related to or caused by the use of marijuana in 2010.
  • More than 872,000 people in the United States sought treatment for marijuana abuse or dependence in 2011.
  • Use of marijuana among high school sophomores and seniors is higher than it has been in eight years.
  • In some states, marijuana is the number one drug of choice cited by patients seeking drug abuse and addiction treatment.

Increased Potency

Why is it that the drug once touted as the peaceful drug in the 1960s and 1970s is now getting a much more negative reputation? What changed? According to a recent study, it’s the potency of the drug, which has tripled over the past 20 years. The plants that were smoked 40 or 50 years ago were far less overwhelming than the plants being sold today, which means that today’s smokers are having a much different experience. In fact, it is estimated that about one in 10 people who try the drug ultimately develop a dependence upon it.

Risks of Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

Marijuana is not a harmless drug, nor is it a drug that can be safely used recreationally. Rather, there are a number of documented risks in addition to the high rates of addiction among those who use the drug.

Some of the risks of its use include:

  • Respiratory illnesses and cognitive impairment are health problems that have been associated with marijuana use.
  • Visits to emergency rooms increase when marijuana is in use.
  • The earlier the first use of the drug, the more likely it is that an addiction to the substance will develop.
  • Marijuana is the second most commonly cited drug of choice among those who go to drug rehab to get help breaking free from an addiction.
  • Studies have shown that people who use marijuana may end up with an IQ that is as much as eight points lower as they age.

Is Medical Marijuana Addictive?

Though many prefer to view marijuana as a medication that can be helpful in the treatment of a number of chronic illnesses, the fact is that, like other legal drugs used to treat certain disorders (e.g., painkillers, sedatives, etc.), it can be extremely dangerous when abused. The problem is that, unlike other legal drugs prescribed for the treatment of medical ailments, those patients who have a prescription for marijuana are given almost no guidance or guidelines when it comes to how much marijuana they should take, in what amounts, or how often.

Additionally, there are a number of different types of marijuana that are sold for medicinal purposes and the patient cannot be sure how any particular strand will affect them until they try it.

All of this uncertainty and open-ended use of the drug can add up to an addiction relatively quickly, doing little more than compounding the underlying issue. If your loved one is struggling with dependence upon marijuana, don’t wait to guide them to a treatment program that can help. Contact us at Black Bear Lodge today at 706-914-2327.