In November of 2012, as voters prepared to decide who should be the next President of the United States, voters in three states were also asked to speak up for or against the sale and use of marijuana. News reports suggest that conversations like this are likely to spread across the country in the coming years, as more people attempt to determine how the drug should be managed within the country’s borders. Perhaps a quick dissertation on the statistics concerning marijuana and addiction would be a good idea, given the heightened scrutiny the drug is facing from all corners.
Use and Addiction Rates
Marijuana remains one of the most commonly used illegal drugs within the United States. According to a 2009 survey quoted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 104 million Americans older than 12 had used marijuana at least once, and 17 million people had used the drug in the month prior to the survey. While people of any age might be compelled to use marijuana, experts suggest that those who abuse the drug tend to be in their teens or early 20s, and they taper away from the drug as they age. For this reason, much of the research conducted on marijuana use and abuse takes place in young adults.
While some people are able to taper their use of marijuana on their own, due to external factors as well as the pressure caused by adulthood, there are many other people who begin taking the drug for recreational purposes who simply cannot stop taking the drug, no matter how much they might like to do so. The NIDA reports that about 9 percent of people who use marijuana become addicted to the substance, and those who begin using the drug early in life or who use the drug daily see addiction rates of 25 to 50 percent.
Marijuana has also been tied to other mental health problems, including:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of motivation
The statistics concerning marijuana and mental health can be quite startling. For example, researchers in New Zealand found that people who started smoking marijuana in adolescence, and who did so at least once or twice per week into adulthood, developed an 8-point drop in their IQs by age 38. The researchers suggest that the drug has a toxic impact upon the cells in the brain, and that exposing those cells to marijuana while they are developing could result in significant and long-term damage that’s extremely hard to overcome.
Marijuana use has also been associated with schizophrenia, with researchers reporting that those who use the drug heavily at age 18 raise the risk of schizophrenia later in life by a factor of six. This is a scary, and sobering, statistic as this isn’t a mental illness that can be cured with medication.
Abstaining from marijuana throughout life is the only way to ensure that none of these negative health effects take place. But those who already use marijuana and who want to stop might benefit from formal addiction treatment programs. Here, they can learn more about why they chose to take the drug in the first place, and they can obtain vital help that could help them to keep the urge to use under control. Please contact us here at Axis if you need assistance from a program like this. We’re happy to help.