Marijuana is an addictive substance that is highly abused in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 4 million youngsters, aged 12 years or more, had marijuana use disorder (MUD) in the past year. MUD causes significant short-term and long-term health problems. Examining the ill-effects of marijuana use further, researchers from the Duke Health found that almost one-fourth of youngsters plagued by a problematic pot use suffer from anxiety disorders in their childhood and late adolescence.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in November, also revealed that approximately 4 percent adults, who were victims of peer bullying and childhood maltreatment, developed marijuana problems between the ages of 26 and 30 years. This was despite having no records of chronic marijuana abuse by them.
Time to shift focus on addressing chronic use in older generation
The researchers studied data from the Great Smoky Mountains Study, a long-term research comprising 1,229 respondents from 11 countries near the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina. They examined a range of interests from the cohort of children, who were as young as nine years at the time of induction, and who have now reached their 30s. Starting from 1993 to 2015, the researchers looked at their mental health, education, work life, and substance use patterns.
As per Dr. Sherika Hill, lead author and an adjunct faculty associate at the Duke University School of Medicine, the study draws attention towards adult users, a group that the researchers expect will be the fastest growing. She said that many of the contemporary policies and interventions in the U.S. primarily focused on early adolescent marijuana users. However, it is time to rethink and shift the focus on addressing chronic use in the older generation.
The researchers termed daily consumption or a habit that qualified for diagnostic guidelines for addiction as problematic use of marijuana. They tracked the participants’ marijuana use pattern from their college years (age 19-21) into adulthood (age 26-30).
One-fourth respondents showed marijuana problems
The researchers found that nearly one-fourth, or 23.7 percent participants, had a problematic marijuana use during this period. They grouped these users into three categories, namely users with limited problems, persistent problems, and delayed problems.
- Limited problems users (13 percent): The limited problematic users were those who had trouble with marijuana use either before the age of 16, while still at school, or in their late teens and early 20s, with their habits weaning off as they grew older. The researchers also found that this group had the highest levels of instability during childhood and family conflict compared to the others.
- Persistent users (7 percent): This group actually comprised the core problematic marijuana users. Starting as early as nine years, their chronic marijuana use continued into the late 20s and early 30s. Majority from this group suffered from anxiety disorders in both childhood (27 percent) as well as at ages between 19-21 years (23 percent). Apart from this, this group also had the highest rates of mental disorders and run-ins with the law.
- Delayed users (4 percent): This small and unique group did not show any signs of problematic marijuana use in children until they became regular users of weed between ages 26-30. The findings also revealed that blacks had a five-time higher propensity compared to whites to become delayed users of marijuana. They started using the drug in their late 20s and early 30s. Further, they showed signs of marijuana problem between ages 19-21, the peak time for majority marijuana users. As children, over 50 percent of them were victims of bullying and abuse by caregivers. However, they had very low rates of problems with alcohol or hard drug use or anxiety compared to the persistent group.
This was indeed surprising for the researchers, as despite problems in their childhood they did not veer toward substance abuse. Dr. Hill said that further research would be required to explain this trend.
Dealing with marijuana addiction
Marijuana addiction can have life-threatening consequences, if left untreated. Most people battling an addiction to marijuana can recover and lead a sober, happy and productive life through timely treatment and rehabilitation.
Sovereign Health is the best behavioral healthcare provider in the U.S. with a range of evidence-based treatments for marijuana addiction treatment in California or at a place closer home. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756 or chat online for more information on our multiple state-of-the-art marijuana rehab centers in California and other parts of the U.S.