Marijuana: A Look at Long-Term Dependence

MarijuanaWe have all been hearing about the amazing benefits of using marijuana medically, and this article is not to oppose medical marijuana use, it’s to take a look at the effects long-term cannabis dependence has on people whom use it abusively. Discussing the potential benefits or dangers of marijuana use often triggers fierce reactions, leading to passionate debates, but we are not trying to draw that out here, just provide important education and information. In the addiction world it seems one of the harder substances to fully give up is marijuana; because of its medical properties and lowered risk of bringing about or increasing dangerous behavior. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a look at findings that followed children age 3 to 38, so through almost 4 decades of their lives. A March 2016 study led by Magdalena Cerda followed children through these years, and identified a strong correlation between the persistent and heavy use of cannabis with an increase of financial, work related, and personal troubles. The study concluded that “Persistent cannabis dependence and alcohol dependence represented risks for midlife economic and social problems.” Magdalena stated in a press release “Our research does not support arguments against cannabis legalization, but it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study.”

Cannabis abuse is skyrocketing in the United States, with numbers approximating 2.5 percent, or six million Americans having cannabis use disorders today. Many individuals suffering from CUD (cannabis use disorders) often have other substance use problems, behavioral problems, or a disability of some kind. Most commonly in individuals with affective disorders, anxiety and personality disorders. It has also been reported that adults who use cannabis are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than adults who don’t. In these recent findings it was reported that even among cannabis users who were never convicted for a cannabis offense, they still found that persistent and regular use was linked to these reported economic and social problems later in life.

Lets look at the public misconception that alcohol is infinitely more dangerous than cannabis. This could be true from a physiological standpoint, however most researchers believe that marijuana is not safer than alcohol when it comes to long term use. These two substances should probably not be measured against each other, but individually; they affect people differently, and the amount that each substance is used and length of time which it is used needs to be what is looked at. It is shown that alcohol can be classified as a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol abuse is more prevalent than that of cannabis. However, as cannabis legalization rises around the country it eventually could be as widely abused as alcohol. Although the physical detriments of cannabis may not be as harmful as alcohol; heavy, long-term use of marijuana appears to be clinically proven to have the potential to create a destructive downward social and economic spiral in someone’s life. So without casting any moral judgment on anybody who uses cannabis safely and/ or medically, we find it important to understand the effects of cannabis on our well being throughout the human lifespan.

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