How Legalizing Marijuana Is Affecting Addiction Rates Across the Country

Addiction

Marijuana is the second-most commonly used psychoactive substance in the U.S., second only to alcohol. Marijuana use has been on the rise since the 1970s, but marijuana addiction rates appear to be holding steady, even in the face of legalization.

The Prevalence of Marijuana Use in the U.S.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana, which is most heavily used by 18- to 25-year-olds.1 Nearly 20 percent of young people in this age group report past-month marijuana use, and over 32 percent report past-year use. Among people 26 and older, over six percent report past-month use, and over 10 percent report past-year use.

Marijuana Addiction Rates in Colorado

Colorado decriminalized marijuana in 1975, legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. According to the Cato Institute, marijuana use in Colorado was increasing in the years before 2009, when dispensaries made medical marijuana easily available.2 Use continued on an upward trend through legalization in 2012 and beyond, and it continues to increase nationwide as laws and attitudes toward marijuana relax.

Overall, Colorado doesn’t have a much higher rate of marijuana use than the rest of the country. According to a report by the Colorado Department of Public Safety, past-month use of marijuana by adults was 12 percent nationwide in 2014, compared to 14 percent in Colorado.3

Data on whether marijuana addiction rates are affected by legalization are limited due to the recent nature of legalization and decriminalization. But according to the data that do exist, marijuana addiction rates currently don’t appear to be impacted in a major way by legalization. However, states where marijuana is legal or decriminalized have a higher rate of use than states where it isn’t.

Marijuana Addiction Rates in the U.S.

Around nine percent of Americans who use marijuana become addicted to it, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.4 For alcohol, it’s 15 percent, and for heroin, it’s 23 percent.

For those who develop an addiction to marijuana, it’s often a serious problem that requires professional treatment.

How Marijuana Addiction Treatment Works

marijuana addiction rates

Willpower is rarely enough to end an addiction for the long-term. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to stop using marijuana, a high-quality treatment program can help you end your marijuana use for the long-term.

Addiction almost always has underlying causes. These often include mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, a history of trauma, chronic stress, or relationship problems. Addressing the various issues that underlie an addiction is essential for ending it.

Treatment helps you work through a variety of issues. It helps you identify self-destructive thought and behavior patterns and replace these with healthier ways of thinking and behaving. It arms you with the skills and strategies you need to cope with triggers like stress and cravings. Finally, it helps you find fun, joy, purpose and meaning in a life without marijuana.

Treatment helps most people who engage with it to end an addiction for the long-term, and it can help you restore your relationships, health and overall quality of life and sense of well-being.


References:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana
  2. https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/dose-reality-effect-state-marijuana-legalizations
  3. https://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2016-SB13-283-Rpt.pdf
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive