Marijuana and Drug and Alcohol Abuse
State medical marijuana laws do not necessarily increase a person’s chances of problematic marijuana and alcohol use, or any sort of substance use disorder for that matter.
Navigation: Legalizing Marijuana Does Not Increase Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rates, What are the Effects of Marijuana?, How Can You Tell if Someone is Abusing Marijuana?, What is Medical Marijuana?, What are Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?, What is Recreational Marijuana?, Is Legalized Marijuana Dangerous?, The Dangers of Marijuana Abuse, Treatment for Marijuana Addiction, Rehab Is Your Best Chance
A new study of twins found that legalizing marijuana does not lead to an increase in drug or alcohol abuse. People who are living in US states where recreational marijuana is legal do not have an increased risk of drug abuse.
State medical marijuana laws do not necessarily increase a person’s chances of problematic marijuana and alcohol use, or any sort of substance use disorder for that matter.
Researchers found that adults living in states with legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana do not have a higher likelihood of developing substance abuse disorders than their twins living in states that do not have medical cannabis laws.
The report was published in the journal Psychological Medicine, where the researchers also noted that they are not at greater risk of having problems with their mental health, work, finances, relationships, or with the law.
Lead researcher Stephanie Zellers, who is a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Helsinki in Finland said: “We found mostly a lot of nothing, which I think is personally interesting. I think this is a case where we don’t find much is actually more interesting maybe than finding a bunch of results.”
Legalizing Marijuana Does Not Increase Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rates
The researchers used data on over 4,000 twins who have previously participated in studies done at the University of Colorado and the University of Minnesota.
Zellers and her colleagues analyzed 240 pairs of twins where one resides in a state where marijuana is legal and the other lives in a state where it is still outlawed. In their background notes, the researchers noted that there are 21 US states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 37 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana in some form. Specifically, medical marijuana is legal in 37 states, four out of five permanently inhabited US territories, and the District of Columbia (D.C.) so long as there is a doctor’s recommendation.
Eleven states have laws that limit tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive compound. Meanwhile, 21 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Another 10 states have decriminalized its use. It is important to note that cannabis is still a Schedule I drug.
Commercial distribution such as through medical marijuana dispensaries has been legalized in all jurisdictions where possession has been legalized, except for Virginia and D.C.
Twin studies are very useful for researchers due to their similar upbringing. As for identical twins, they are even more beneficial to these studies because of their similar genes.
“There’s lots of things that could explain why one person is behaving one way or why people of one state behave one way compared to another,” said Zellers. “But with twins, we were able to rule out so many of those alternatives—not everything, but a lot of them.”
The researchers found that adults who can buy marijuana legally were more likely to use it, which is unsurprising due to the drug’s availability. However, twins living in a legal state had a slightly lower chance of developing an alcohol use disorder. Researchers say this may be due to a substitution effect, where instead of alcohol consumption, they focus on weed. A twin in a legal state was also less likely to drink and drive.
Those who are against marijuana legalization argue that it is a gateway drug to substances that are more dangerous and addictive. However, there was no evidence of this found in the study.
Researchers found no increase in the use of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and hallucinogens. People in states with legal marijuana were not transitioning to more illicit drugs, according to the researchers.
Additionally, they are also not more susceptible to mental health problems, unemployment, relationship problems, and financial troubles.
“I would like to see this be a reassuring result for public policy, at least with respect to psychological well-being,” Zellers said. “Legalization really isn’t causing great psychological harms.”
Some people remain skeptical over the safety of recreational marijuana, however, because the study only focuses on adults. According to Linda Richter, who is the vice president of prevention research and analysis for the Partnership to End Addiction: “The concerns surrounding marijuana legalization from much of the public health community primarily center on young people—adolescents and early adults—who are more vulnerable to substance use and its consequences, since they are still undergoing significant brain development and are highly susceptible to increased normalization of and access to addictive substances that come with legalization and commercialization of cannabis.”
For adults, legalizing marijuana led to no significant increases in illicit drug and alcohol abuse rates. But for the youth, there may be a broader range of detrimental effects.
In response, Zellers said: “Preventing adolescent use is something that is pretty important going forward, and can be addressed with policies around legal purchasing.”
What are the Effects of Marijuana?
While there is still plenty of debate surrounding marijuana legalization, we should still take note of the fact that engaging in any form of substance abuse can lead to some serious consequences.
Marijuana can have both potential benefits and risks, depending on various factors such as dosage, frequency of use, method of consumption, individual physiology, and underlying medical conditions.
Some of the potential risks associated with marijuana use include impaired cognitive function, decreased attention span and memory, impaired coordination and motor skills, and altered judgment and decision-making abilities.
Long-term, heavy use of marijuana may also lead to respiratory problems, addiction, and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
It is worth noting that the risks associated with marijuana use are generally considered to be lower than those associated with alcohol or tobacco use. Additionally, marijuana may have potential therapeutic benefits for certain medical conditions, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.
Ultimately, the safety and appropriateness of marijuana use depend on a range of individual factors, and anyone considering using marijuana should consult with a medical professional and carefully consider the potential risks and benefits before doing so.
How Can You Tell if Someone is Abusing Marijuana?
If you are concerned that a loved one may be misusing marijuana, you need to look out for the signs and symptoms, including:
Using marijuana frequently, even when it interferes with daily life and responsibilities.
Developing a tolerance to marijuana, meaning that more is needed to achieve the desired effect.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut back on marijuana use, such as irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and decreased appetite.
Using marijuana in situations where it is dangerous or illegal, such as driving or at work.
Spending a lot of time and money on obtaining and using marijuana.
Continuing to use marijuana despite negative consequences, such as relationship problems, work difficulties, or legal trouble.
Neglecting important activities or hobbies in favor of using marijuana.
Experiencing physical or mental health problems related to marijuana use, such as respiratory issues or anxiety.
Not everyone who uses marijuana will develop an addiction, but for those who do, it can have serious consequences for their health and well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, seeking professional help is recommended.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana refers to the use of the cannabis plant or its components, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for medicinal purposes. Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years, and there is growing scientific evidence to support its use in treating a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.
Medical marijuana is typically prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider, and its use is regulated by state laws in the United States. The specific regulations and restrictions on medical marijuana use can vary widely, and patients should consult with their healthcare provider and/or local authorities to understand the rules governing its use in their area.
Here are some of the potential benefits of medical marijuana:
Pain relief: Medical marijuana has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and cancer.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Medical marijuana contains cannabinoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a potential treatment option for conditions such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
Reducing nausea and vomiting: Medical marijuana has been found to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and other treatments.
Anxiety and depression: Medical marijuana has been found to have mood-enhancing effects, which may make it a potential treatment option for anxiety and depression.
Neuroprotective properties: Medical marijuana has been found to have neuroprotective properties, which may make it a potential treatment option for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Sleep aid: Medical marijuana has been found to improve sleep in people with conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
Medical marijuana has plenty of potential benefits if used appropriately, but take note that this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if medical marijuana is a suitable treatment option for your specific condition.
What are Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?
Medical marijuana dispensaries are retail establishments that sell cannabis products to patients who have been prescribed marijuana for medical purposes. These dispensaries are regulated by state laws and are typically only allowed to sell marijuana to patients who have been approved for medical marijuana use by a licensed physician.
The products sold at medical marijuana dispensaries include a variety of cannabis-based medications, such as marijuana flowers, edibles, oils, tinctures, and other forms of cannabis-infused products. Dispensaries also provide guidance and education to patients about the safe and effective use of medical marijuana products, as well as advice on dosing and potential side effects.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are typically staffed by trained professionals who are knowledgeable about the various strains and formulations of cannabis products, as well as the specific needs of medical marijuana patients. Many dispensaries also provide delivery services to patients who are unable to visit the dispensary in person.
What is Recreational Marijuana?
Recreational marijuana refers to the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes. It is typically used to achieve a sense of relaxation, euphoria, and altered perceptions.
Not all people who use marijuana abuse it, and that marijuana use can vary widely from person to person. However, some individuals may abuse marijuana for a variety of reasons.
Some people may use it to cope with stress or difficult emotions. They may even self-medicate to deal with their anxiety or depression. While marijuana may temporarily alleviate these feelings, it can also lead to dependence and exacerbate mental health issues in the long run.
Others are exposed to marijuana due to social influence or peer pressure. Adolescents and young adults are more vulnerable to this as they may want to use it to try to fit in with a particular group. They may use it to impress their friends even if they do not necessarily enjoy the effects of the drug.
Others may use it just out of curiosity or desire to experiment with different substances.
At the end of the day, marijuana can be addictive just like any substance. An addicted person may continue to use the drug despite negative consequences to their health, relationships, or work.
Is Legalized Marijuana Dangerous?
The safety of legalized marijuana is a complex issue that depends on various factors such as usage, dosage, potency, and individual factors such as age, health status, and personal susceptibility to its effects. As such, it’s not something that has a straightforward answer.
While marijuana use is associated with some potential risks, such as impaired coordination, memory and concentration, respiratory problems, and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, the risk of harm varies depending on the individual and the circumstances of use.
Moreover, the legalization of marijuana has been shown to have benefits such as reducing crime rates, generating tax revenue, and providing relief for patients suffering from chronic pain or other medical conditions.
That said, marijuana can be potentially dangerous if abused, and it’s crucial to follow safety guidelines and use it responsibly if it’s legal in your area.
The Dangers of Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana abuse can have both short-term and long-term effects on a person’s body and mind.
For starters, excessive use of marijuana can cause temporary impairments in cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and learning. People who use marijuana for a long period of time are at an increased risk of cognitive impairment.
Excessive marijuana use can damage the vital organs. Smoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and lead to respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis or lung infections. It can also cause an increase in heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with pre-existing heart conditions.
While some people use it to self-medicate for their existing mental health problems, marijuana use can actually exacerbate symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. In some cases, it may even trigger the onset of these conditions.
Finally, just like many other drugs, marijuana use can lead to addiction. Some people may find that they have a difficult time quitting or controlling their use of marijuana, which can negatively impact their work, social life, and overall health.
Not everyone who uses marijuana will suffer from these effects. It can vary depending on factors like frequency of use, the potency of the product, and the individual’s age, gender, and overall health.
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
If someone you love does develop an addiction to marijuana, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of treatment options out there that can help them get their sobriety back.
Marijuana addiction treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral therapy, medication, and support groups. The specific treatment plan will depend on the individual’s needs and the severity of their addiction.
Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their addiction. It can also help patients learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with triggers and cravings.
Medications may also be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. For example, the medication dronabinol has been used to treat marijuana addiction by mimicking the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, without producing the same high.
Support groups, such as Marijuana Anonymous, can provide a sense of community and accountability for individuals in recovery. These groups may also offer resources and guidance for managing triggers and avoiding relapse.
Just like with other drugs, the best way to approach marijuana addiction is with a personalized treatment plan. Everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for addiction. You need a treatment plan that addresses the person’s specific needs.
Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today and find out more about your treatment options for marijuana addiction. You can prioritize nearby facilities or you can search online for rehab centers that specialize in this type of addiction.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for example, is a good resource for all things related to addiction and addiction treatment. Get started on the road to long-term sobriety today.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.