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Marijuana use disorder, a common phenomenon in the United States, accompanies behavioral problems and disability. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), as marijuana abuse is associated with other substance abuse disorders, it often goes untreated.
A study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in March 2016, claimed that “2.5 percent of adults (nearly 6 million) experienced marijuana use disorder in the past year, while 6.3 percent had met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder at some point in their lives.”
Led by Bridget Grant, Ph.D., of the NIAAA Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry, the study revealed that “marijuana use can lead to harmful consequences for individuals and society.” Not only individuals who abuse it get affected, but the society also bears the brunt. The research also found that marijuana abuse among Americans has increased over the years.
The researchers interviewed over 36,000 U.S. adults about their habits of alcohol use, drug use and related psychiatric conditions. Commenting on the study, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted, “Notably, the current study applies diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to the NESARC data. In DSM-5, marijuana dependence and abuse are combined into a single disorder. To be diagnosed with the disorder, individuals must meet at least two of 11 symptoms that assess craving, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities. Severity of the disorder is rated as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms met.”
The study revealed that marijuana use disorder is quite common and the ramifications are more serious than assumed by the people. More men abuse marijuana than women, a fact which was corroborated by earlier studies. Men are twice likely to abuse marijuana than their female counterparts. The younger ones are more susceptible to abuse marijuana than those who have crossed the age of 45.
This risk of onset of marijuana use disorder starts from late adolescence and in early 20s. It is during this phase that youngsters start abusing the drug.
The study revealed that marijuana abuse is closely associated with other substance abuse and mental health issues. Dr. Grant feels that people who abuse marijuana, especially those with severe forms of the disorder, experience considerable mental disorder. The mental disability in addicts is found even after remission of the drug.
However, percentage of people receiving treatment for it is considerably low. The researchers said that only a handful of people with past-year marijuana use disorder received any marijuana-specific treatment, which is barely 7 percent. For people with lifetime marijuana use disorder, the treatment is slightly better at 14 percent.
One of the most debilitating effects is that people with “marijuana use disorder are vulnerable to other mental health disorders,” said the researchers. This is a serious issue.
The study emphasized on evidence-based treatments that address the co-occurring conditions of those individuals who are affected mentally by marijuana abuse. It calls for the implementation of effective prevention and treatment plans for marijuana use disorder.
Educating people about the dangers associated with marijuana and disdaining the belief that marijuana use is harmless will go a long way. The study also stresses on further probe to unravel the combined negative effects of alcohol and marijuana as these substances are more commonly abused by people.
If you or your loved one is grappling with an addiction, call the Colorado Detox Helpline for immediate assistance. The experts available at our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 can help you find the best treatment for any addiction.
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