Marijuana Use Disorders Are More Common than People Think and They Often Go Untreated
You know the old argument that marijuana can’t be addictive because it doesn’t contain chemicals that cause addiction. Because of this a lot of users can smoke a bowl, have a joint, or vape casually and not encounter withdrawal symptoms if they stop or spend their day craving getting high. Their use is strictly recreational.
That doesn’t mean people can’t have marijuana use disorders, and recent evidence shows that many people actually do.
In fact, you or someone that you love might be suffering from a marijuana use disorder and may not be seeking treatment or getting the help that you need because other people aren’t yet able to see the use as a problem.
After all, if so many people can use pot recreationally, why can’t you? When you try to wrap your mind around it, you might actually talk yourself out of addressing your use disorder because society so firmly denies that it is a possibility.
Are you dealing with a possible marijuana use disorder? Is someone that you know? Now is the time to be open to the possibility and to look into treatment.
Don’t let yourself live in denial. When you are ready to research your options and to get help, please contact SubstanceAbuse.org at 800-487-1890 (Who Answers?) and speak with an expert. We can connect you to resources and to treatment facilities.
What Is Considered a Marijuana Use Disorder?
Most addiction experts turn to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—now in its fifth edition—to establish whether or not abuse is occurring. Previous editions of the manual required only a single symptom to establish whether or not a substance use disorder was present. Now, it requires two or three symptoms from a list of 11.
At least two of the following must be present within a 12-month period.
- Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis.
- Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
- Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Cannabis use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
- Tolerance, as defined by either a (1) need for markedly increased cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect or (2) markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either (1) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis or (2) cannabis is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
How Common Is a Use Disorder?
In a recent report—“Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013”— the following data was gathered from interviews with more than 36,000 American adults:
- Marijuana in the past year more than doubled between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013; the increase in marijuana use disorders during that time was nearly as large.
- Use disorders are twice as common in men.
- Younger people are more likely to have one. The risk peaks in late adolescence to the early 20s.
- Past year and lifetime marijuana use disorders are consistently associated with mental health disorders and other substance use.
Do People Get Treatment?
Because of public beliefs about the harmlessness of marijuana, many people do not get treated. A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study shows that nearly 33 percent of the adults in the US have an alcohol use disorder and only 20 percent seek treatment, and alcohol use disorders are fully understood and acknowledged as a problem. Without being considered serious, marijuana use disorders will continue being left untreated.