Why Marijuana Abuse Isn’t Limited to a Single Social Group

Why Marijuana Abuse Isn’t Limited to a Single Social Group

Marijuana contains the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol that binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Cannabis users typically smoke plant buds that have been packed into pipes, bongs or rolled into joints, but some people ingest the drug through food and drink for a high that comes on more slowly, but one that lasts longer. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana had the highest rate of use, abuse and dependence in 2011, which is consistent with other years. According to the data, nearly 4.2 million adults aged 12 or older had abused marijuana in the past year, which tops the abuse rates for painkillers, cocaine, heroin, tranquilizers, hallucinogens and stimulants combined. Likewise, more than 18 million people (i.e., 7% of this age group) admitted to abusing marijuana in the past month. While drugs are more popular with certain social groups, marijuana is so widely used that it transcends age, gender, race, education and socioeconomics.

Marijuana Abuse Statistics

Several statistics highlight the diversity of marijuana users, including the following facts:

  • Prevention Science journal noted that in 2012 38% of college students tried marijuana prior to admission
  • USA Today wrote that marijuana drove a 2% increase in college drug-use between 2008 and 2010
  • 20-year-olds have the highest marijuana usage rate at 34.4%, per 2003-2004 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration studies

Using 2007 government data, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive provides additional the following information on people who tried marijuana at least once:

  • People aged 35 to 49 lead all age groups with 53% of them having tried marijuana
  • 51% was the rate for the 18-to-25 age group and 30% for people 50 or older
  • 45% of men and 36% of women tried marijuana in their lifetime
  • Rates ranged from 27% to 47% for the main ethnic groups, except Asians (16%)
  • 40% of married people tried marijuana, compared to 48% who never married
  • Divorcees and separated couples had higher rates at more than 52%

The statistics also showed that college education was associated with higher rates of marijuana abuse than people with high school diplomas or less.

Marijuana Abuse Reasons

The following factors contribute to marijuana abuse:

  • Fewer negative associations than other illicit drugs
  • Long history of marijuana abuse in the US
  • Many cultures around the world also have high usage rates
  • Associations with the beat generation and ’60s counterculture
  • Marijuana is usually easy to access and purchase

Marijuana abuse affects numerous demographic groups, because it is arguably the most socially and culturally accepted illicit drug. Nevertheless, it is still an addictive substance, and it leads all drugs in treatment admissions. Per the government’s Treatment Episode Data Set for 2011, nearly one in five admissions involved marijuana as the primary drug of abuse.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Treatment centers fight marijuana abuse with the following treatment methods:

  • Integrated treatment for co-occurring sleep, mood and personality disorders
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to address maladaptive thought processes
  • Strategies to recognize and avoid triggers that motivate marijuana use
  • Training in life skills to promote healthier coping strategies and decision making
  • Group therapies to express thoughts and feelings in a supportive social setting

Addiction is a chronic neurobiological disease, and rehab centers provide the most effective treatment to foster a positive recovery.

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