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Americans Are Smoking More Marijuana Than Before

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marijauna-statisticsA research study released in late October shows that Americans are using much more marijuana than they were just a decade ago.

A ten-year climb

The survey, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, interviewed more than 36,000 American adults. The results show that in 2001-02, the percentage of Americans who reported using marijuana in the last year was 4.1%. In 2012-13, that percentage jumped to 9.5%.

While medical marijuana did become more prevalent during this decade, the study’s authors suggest that medicinal use is not the prevailing factor in the usage spike. Rather, changes in laws and attitudes are the leading contributing factors.

When use becomes abuse

In addition to a more than double usage rate, the study also looked at the prevalence of marijuana use disorder among survey participants. In 2001-02, the rate was 1.5%; by 2012-13, it was 2.9%.

But among users, the prevalence was much higher than that: nearly 3 in 10 marijuana users in the study “manifested a marijuana use disorder.” And according to resources compiled by, that percentage can be as high as 50% among daily marijuana users.

Despite popular belief, marijuana can in fact be addictive. Marijuana addiction is associated with irritability, mood problems, sleep difficulties and more. There are also mild withdrawal symptoms associated with it, including physical discomfort that can last up to two weeks after quitting.

Balancing the approach

While attitudes and policies about marijuana are clearly shifting, it’s important to consider that there are still negative effects to its use – the same way there are with other legal substances, like alcohol and opioid painkillers. In their conclusion, the study’s authors call for “a balanced presentation of the likelihood of adverse consequences of marijuana use to policy makers, professionals, and the public is needed.”

Facing addiction

Sadly, as drug use – even, and perhaps especially, with drugs that are seen as “harmless,” like marijuana – becomes more widespread, so does the risk of addiction. And just like its legal counterparts alcohol and painkillers, the legality of marijuana does not preclude the potential for abuse.

If you are dealing with an addiction to marijuana or are looking for help for a loved one who is, The Watershed can help. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will always take your call. Get help today: 1-800-861-1768.

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