Marijuana Use Disorder in US has doubled in a Decade: Study

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 18, 2016.

A new study published in the ‘American Journal of Psychiatry’ found the number of Americans who reported using marijuana more than doubled between 2002 and 2013. The research also showed that 2.5 per cent of adults--nearly 6 million people --experienced marijuana use disorder in 2012-13, while 6.3 per cent had met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder at some point in their lives.

The collaborative study was carried out by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study also found that marijuana use disorder is often associated with other substance use disorders, behavioral problems, and disability, and goes largely untreated.

The data were collected in the 2012-2013 wave of NIAAA's National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), the largest ever conducted on the co-occurrence of alcohol use, drug use, and related psychiatric conditions. For this study, over 36,000 U.S. adults were interviewed about alcohol, drug, and related psychiatric conditions.

The data showed that marijuana use disorder is about twice as common among men than women, that younger age groups are much more likely to experience the disorder than people age 45 and over, and that those at the lowest income levels were at the highest risk.

“An increasing number of American adults do not perceive marijuana use as harmful,” said study lead author Deborah Hasin, professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “While some can use marijuana without harm, other users do experience negative consequences, which can include mental and physical problems, and impaired functioning. This paper helps provide information on some of those risks.”

As the severity of marijuana use disorder increased, so did associated disability levels and frequency of marijuana use, researchers said. Severity of the disorder is rated as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms, they noted.

The researchers found that only about 7 per cent of people with past-year marijuana use disorder receive any marijuana-specific treatment, and only about 14 per cent of people with lifetime marijuana use disorder receive treatment.

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