4 Surprising Facts About Marijuana Addiction

4 Surprising Facts About Marijuana Addiction

The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) provides data on substance use for people aged 12 and older, and marijuana unequivocally leads all illicit drugs in overall use. Per the findings, 7% of the population (18 million people) are regular users, and more than 4 million people experienced past-year abuse, which tops the next six drugs combined. Regardless of a person’s moral stance on medicinal and recreational use, marijuana is a psychoactive substance that can produce addictive behavior, and several facts about marijuana addiction may surprise most users.

1. Marijuana is one of the leading substances involved in drug-related medical emergencies.

Each year, the government publishes the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report tracking drug-related emergency room visits, and the 2011 data includes the following:

  • Marijuana trailed only cocaine as the most-present illicit drug in such emergencies
  • Marijuana was more common than heroin, amphetamines, LSD and MDMA combined
  • No specific prescription drug was associated with more emergencies than marijuana

Marijuana was associated with nearly 40% of the illicit drug-related emergency room visits, though it is important to add that 56% of the total visits involved multiple drugs and 28% alcohol. Other drugs may have driven the emergency, but marijuana use may have motivated additional drug use and hindered one’s ability to recognize trouble and get help before it became an emergency.

2. Marijuana dependence may lead to withdrawal symptoms.

A 28-day abstinence study published in the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology journal in 2000 found that marijuana addicts often experience withdrawal symptoms, including the following:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Physical tension
  • Decreases in mood

While opioids, sedatives and alcohol are more commonly associated with physical dependence and withdrawal, the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can significantly affect mood and mental health.

3. Marijuana addiction is listed as the primary addiction for people seeking treatment more often than any other drug.

The government’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) tracks substance abuse treatment admissions, and findings from a 2001 to 2011 report highlights the extent to which people needed help. The data includes the follows:

  • 18% of treatment admissions in 2011 reported marijuana as the primary addiction
  • By comparison, heroin addiction represented 15% of the admissions and cocaine 8%
  • Marijuana admissions also topped non-heroin opiates (10%) such as painkillers
  • The average age for primary marijuana admissions was 24 years old

High marijuana usage rates contribute to high admissions rates, but readers should note that alcohol is the only substance for which more people sought treatment.

4. Professional treatment helps with more than just marijuana addiction.

In an online report revised in 2012, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) noted several studies connecting marijuana use and mental health disorders. The presence of co-occurring disorders does not necessitate a cause-and-effect relationship, but many people may initiate marijuana use to self-medicate the symptoms of a mental health, personality or sleep disorder. Professional treatment can potentially help such individuals in several ways, including the following:

  • Screenings, diagnosis and integrated treatment for all co-occurring disorders
  • Behavioral therapies that target negative thought patterns and beliefs
  • Strategies to recognize and resist marijuana use and mental health disorder triggers
  • Counseling to address unresolved trauma, internal conflicts and anger issues

Many people in the younger generation have a positive view of marijuana and its medicinal applications, but admitting to an addiction is not equivalent to disavowing those beliefs. Wine provides heart health benefits, and the internet is an invaluable resource, but people can still become addicted to both. If a marijuana addiction does occur, professional treatment is the most effective way to foster a recovery.

Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss addiction warning signs, marijuana abuse risks and treatment options. We can also recommend rehabilitation centers and check health insurance policies for treatment benefits. Our helpline is toll-free so please call now.