Marijuana Can Lead to Substance Use Disorders

substance use disorderLast month, a new study was published that debunked the often stated claim that marijuana was the “gateway” drug, meaning the use of cannabis would lead people to trying harder, more dangerous narcotics, possibly resulting with the development of a substance use disorder. The study painted a picture of the true gateway drug – alcohol. While the findings shined a new light on an old idea, it does not mean that the use of marijuana is completely safe and that those who use marijuana won’t go on to try harder drugs.

The changing views about cannabis in the United States, for better or worse, has resulted in long overdue research about the drug. A new study published recently found that people who smoke marijuana were at a much greater risk of developing an addiction to other drugs or alcohol, HealthDay reports. The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

All Roads Lead from Marijuana

The findings come from preliminary interviews of nearly 35,000 adults, who were interviewed again three years later. Almost 1,300 of the adults used marijuana, according to the article. The researchers found that two-thirds of cannabis users had some type of substance use disorder after the second interview. Of those who didn’t use marijuana, only 20 percent were found to have a substance use disorder. What’s more, the researchers observed that people who used marijuana once or more a month, had higher rates of substance use disorders.

“This new finding raises the possibility that the recent rise in marijuana use may be contributing to the coincident rise in serious harms related to narcotics and other drugs of abuse,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Recreational Disaster

With more states lightening their laws regarding marijuana, and four states where adults 21-years or older using marijuana legally, it is important that we acknowledge the fact that marijuana is not a benign substance just because it’s legal. Alcohol has been legal for a long time; every year thousands of people lose their life due to the use of the substance, from alcohol related illness and accidents.

“In the ongoing national debate concerning whether to legalize recreational marijuana, the public and legislators should take into consideration the potential for marijuana use to increase the risk of developing alcohol abuse and other serious drug problems,” said Olfson.

Substance Use Disorders

If you or a loved one’s use of marijuana, or another mind altering substance is out of control, reach out for help before the problem worsens. Please contact N2 Treatment to get on the road to recovery.

CBD and The Future of Treating Epilepsy

CBDWhile marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic, which means the drug has no accepted medical use, there is growing evidence that particular strains of marijuana and the extracts derived from them can significantly help people suffering from life threatening disorders, such as epilepsy.

You may have seen a series of 60 Minute specials on marijuana that were hosted by CNN medical expert Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Historically, Gupta was against medical marijuana, but then he changed his position after learning that children with severe epilepsy who did not respond to current medically accepted forms treatment, greatly benefitted from marijuana that was low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, but was high cannabidiol (CBD). The children who were given extracts of CBD rich marijuana went from having hundreds of seizures per week, to two to three times per month.

CBD and The Future of Treating Epilepsy

The first child epileptic case to be treated with CBD products was in Colorado, a state with a medical marijuana program that stems back to 2000 and was one of two of the first states to legalize adult recreational use. So it is of little surprise that such revolutionary, and an extreme experiment would take place in Colorado.

Now, the use of CBD is occurring in the most unlikely of states. In Idaho, where all forms of marijuana use remain illegal, there are now four children with severe epilepsy that have been approved and are being treated with a drug called Epidiolex, The Spokeman-Review reports. The drug is a purified oil made from the marijuana plant, but it is free of THC. Despite the approval for use in limited cases, the Idaho Legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution banning the legalization of marijuana for any purpose in 2013.

Idaho is not alone in approving cannabidiol drugs for treating intractable epilepsy, according to the article. In 2014, Utah approved the use of CBD oil, despite all forms of marijuana use being illegal, as did Wyoming. In Idaho, there are 25 trial spots available for Epidiolex trials, which has one lawmaker concerned.

“It’s frustrating for me that as a state, we have narrowed the options down for the kids and the parents,” said Sen. Shawn Keough. He adds, “whether we are denying a treatment that could give kids and parents some relief, and helping a pharmaceutical company along the way.”

CBD Is Euphoria Free

While CBD products have shown a lot of promise, it is important to remember that the ingredient is not psychoactive – it does not produce the high that THC elicits. The findings do not speak for marijuana, but for CBD alone, and people should still be wary about the long term effects of marijuana use. Smoking marijuana or eating edibles can have a serious impact on the developing brain, and can also lead to addiction.

Monitoring the Future 2015

monitoring-the-futureEvery year, researchers at the University of Michigan conduct the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, funded by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The MTF is a long term epidemiological study that that looks at legal and illicit drug use and perceived risk of use among American adolescents and adults. The research has been ongoing since 1975. The MTF, among other things, provides experts with a window into people’s beliefs regarding drugs and alcohol use, allowing them to make informed decisions in the development of intervention techniques.

Monitoring the Future 2015

As the year comes to a close, we have a chance to see the progress we have made and the setbacks we have experienced as a nation. This year’s survey shows that overall; teens are reducing their use of:

  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol (including binge drinking)
  • Prescription Opioids
  • Synthetic Marijuana

“These are some of the lowest numbers we have ever seen,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow told CBS News. “Notable is cigarette smoking — it is lower than we’ve ever seen it. Heroin is at the lowest it’s ever been. For prescription opiates, it’s the lowest we have ever seen. Overall this is very good news.”

Less Fire, More Smoke

While the aforementioned findings are promising, there is still work to be done – especially when it comes to marijuana. The researchers found that marijuana use has not declined among teenagers, CBS News reports. In fact, for the first time more high school seniors smoke marijuana than regular cigarettes on a daily basis.

In recent years, the nation has seen a growing tolerance for marijuana. Currently, there are 23 states and DC with medical marijuana programs, and four of the states have passed recreational use legalization for adults. The perceived dangers of marijuana use are fairly low among teenagers and young adults.

The researchers found that teens view marijuana as less risky this year, compared to last year, according to the report. Last year, 36.1 percent of 12th graders said that regular marijuana use could be harmful, compared to 31.9 percent this year.

Developing Brains

While marijuana use may not be as bad for the mind and body as, let’s say alcohol or heroin, marijuana use has been found to have negative effects on the brain – especially the developing brains of teenagers and young adults.

“Among teens, several studies provide evidence showing marijuana’s effects are deleterious,” said Volkow.

The Impact of Medical Marijuana Advertisements

medical-marijuanaThe Impact of Marijuana Advertising

In 1996, it became legal for people to get a recommendation from a doctor to use marijuana for medical purposes in California. As the state gears up for a vote on the legality of recreational use in 2016, there are a number of factors that need to be considered including weighing the impact that medical marijuana has had on teenagers. New research suggests that middle school students who saw medical marijuana ads were twice as likely to have used the drug or plan to use it in the future, HealthDay reports.

Medical Marijuana Ads Spur Teenage Use

More than 8,200 middle school students in Southern California were included in the study, teens in sixth through eighth grade. After the first year of the research, 22 percent of the students reported seeing at least one advertisement for medical marijuana in the past three months, according to the article. A year later, that figure had risen to 30 percent.

Since the state passed medical marijuana, the number of advertisements for the drug has grown due to the exponential growth of the industry with every year that passes. The researchers point out that it is not uncommon for medical marijuana ads to appear on and in: television, newspapers, billboards and dispensary storefronts.

“Given that advertising typically tells only one side of the story, prevention efforts must begin to better educate youth about how medical marijuana is used, while also emphasizing the negative effects that marijuana can have on the brain and performance,” said study author, Elizabeth D’Amico of the nonprofit research organization RAND, in a news release.

Using Alcohol As A Guide

“As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it’s important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug,” said D’Amico. “The lessons we have learned from alcohol — a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe — may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana.”

The findings are published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

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If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, please do not hesitate to contact N2 Treatment. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

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