Many people either don’t know or don’t believe that marijuana is addictive. A combination of collected data, scientific evidence proves that marijuana is addictive. Although, marijuana is not as addictive as heroin or tobacco it is nonetheless addictive. It is estimated that 9 percent (1 in 11) adults who have ever tried marijuana or one in six adolescents who ever used it will become addicted to it. That number will rise to 25 to 50 percent among daily users.
According to the 2010 National Study on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), marijuana accounted for 4.5 million of the estimated 7.1 million Americans dependent on or abusing illicit drugs as established by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In 2009, approximately 18 percent of people aged 12 and older entering drug abuse treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse; 61 percent of persons under 15 reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.
To help illustrate how addicting marijuana is, the National Institute of Health states that there are more marijuana addicts in the United States than Americans addicted to prescription pain relievers, cocaine, tranquilizers, hallucinogens, and heroin combined.
Young people are even more vulnerable to marijuana addiction, than adults, if they start using marijuana before the age of 14. For this group of teens, the addiction rate climbs to one in six compared to one in eleven for people who start using later in life. The reason appears to be all about brain development. According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, “Children and adolescent brains and personalities are under rapid development…we are certain that critical periods occur when the excessive cannabinoid stimulation produced by marijuana have significant impact on the course of brain development…As a result, they can become addicted more often and more rapidly than adults.”
The potency of marijuana being used today is not the same marijuana used at Woodstock in the 1960s. With growers constantly experimenting with modern cultivation techniques over many years the results have been a great elevation in the levels of THC (the psychoactive ingredient) found in the oily resin of the marijuana’s plant’s leaves and flowers. Back in 1983 the THC concentrations averaged below 4 percent, whereas today’s marijuana now exceeds an average of 10 percent with many samples in the 10 to 20 percent range. Some marijuana samples have even found to exceed 30 percent. If we were to use an analogy to alcohol, it would be like going from drinking a lite beer a day to drinking a dozen shots of vodka a day. A direct result of Americans using such potent marijuana has been an escalation in emergency room admissions for marijuana-related reactions. ER admission related to marijuana went from 16,251 in 1991, to greater than 374,000 ER admissions in 2008. During this time, the number of marijuana users has remained the same. The reasons for these admissions ranged from anxiety and panic attacks, paranoia, and psychiatric symptoms, to respiratory and cardiovascular distress.
Page 2 of 2 – The Steuben Prevention Coalition’s mission is to promote healthy and safe communities in Steuben County by reducing alcohol and drug use among youths. For more information about the Coalition, or to join in the effort to reduce alcohol and drug use among youths in Steuben County, please contact Drug Free Community Program Coordinator Norman McCumiskey at 607-776-6441, extension 208 or
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Program Assistant Pam Aini at 607-776-6441, extension 202 or email@example.com.