Daily Marijuana Users Seek Treatment

Daily Marijuana Users Seek Treatment

The use of marijuana has been associated with many adverse consequences. Those who use it on an ongoing basis sometimes report episodes of psychosis, and use of the drug has also been associated with cognitive impairment. The effects of the drug are especially a concern for adolescents, whose brains are still developing.

Marijuana use also sometimes leads to dependence. Approximately 9 percent of those who use marijuana become addicted to it, and the number is higher for those who begin using the drug at a young age.

Improving information about those who use marijuana, and specifically those who use it on a regular basis, can help policymakers implement strategies for effective treatment, prevention and education.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides regular reports, giving information about the individuals who seek treatment for substance abuse problems. Their report for 2009 offers insight into the segment of the population that uses marijuana on a daily basis.

The report indicates that 740,800 substance abuse treatment admissions reported using marijuana. Of those using marijuana, 170,100, or about 23 percent, admitted to using marijuana on a daily basis when entering treatment.

Of those who use marijuana daily, the users were largely male (72.2 percent) and had not been married (77.1 percent). They also tended to be non-Hispanic White (55.1 percent) and were in young or middle-aged adulthood.

Most of the admissions who reported using marijuana on a daily basis that were aged 18 or older were unemployed or not members of the labor force. About 41 percent of those over the age of 18 had less than a high school education.

About 17 percent of those admitted for substance abuse treatment reported marijuana as their primary substance of abuse, but nearly 83 percent reported that marijuana and an additional substance of abuse were the reason for their admission. About one-third of those admitted reported a psychiatric problem in addition to substance abuse.

As individuals got older, they were more likely to report using another substance in addition to marijuana. About 68 percent of those aged 12 to 17 reported an additional substance of abuse, while about 80 percent of those aged 18 to 25 and about 88 percent of those aged 26 to 49 reported an additional substance of abuse. For those aged 50 and older, the percentage of those who abused an additional substance was 92 percent.

Alcohol was frequently combined with marijuana use, with 52 percent of those who reported an additional substance using alcohol. Cocaine was used in 24 percent of cases and heroin in 12 percent. Those in the 12 to 17 year old age group were less likely to mention cocaine or heroin as a secondary substance than those in older age groups.

The most common type of treatment for marijuana users was regular outpatient care, with about 43 percent receiving care on an outpatient basis. Detoxification was used to treat 17.8 percent of admissions and short-term residential care was used in 15.4 percent of cases.

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