Daily Pot Smokers More Likely To Use Multiple Drugs
Marijuana is the most popular illicit/illegal drug in the U.S. among both younger and older people. In some cases, people who consume marijuana may also be active participants in other forms of drug use.
In a study published in September 2014 in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, a team of American researchers explored the connection between marijuana use and the intake of other drugs among young people transitioning from adolescence into early adulthood. These researchers concluded that daily consumers of marijuana in this age range are statistically more likely to also use additional drugs.
Stats On Marijuana, Older Teens And Young Adults
Approximately 19 million Americans over the age of 11 consume at least some amount of marijuana in a typical month, according to 2012 figures compiled through a federal project called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
All told, users of this cannabis product account for close to 80 percent of the nation’s entire population of illicit/illegal drug users. Roughly 63 percent of the nation’s illicit/illegal drug consumers only use marijuana, while the remainder of marijuana users also consume at least one other drug.
Teenagers over the age of 15 and young adults under the age of 26 have the highest monthly rates for marijuana intake. Approximately 14 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds consume some quantity of the drug in the average month. The monthly rate of marijuana use rises to nearly 19 percent in older teens and younger adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Roughly 7.6 million American teens and adults qualify as daily marijuana users by consuming the drug at least 20 days a month. In addition, roughly 5.4 million American teens and adults consume marijuana at least 300 days a year.
Marijuana users who also consume other drugs participate in a form of substance use commonly known as polydrug or polysubstance use. As a rule, polydrug users have heightened chances of experiencing the damaging effects associated with the substances they consume.
Damaging Effects Of Polysubstance Use
These effects include:
- serious changes in cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) function
- serious changes in lung function
- significant body temperature alterations
Serious changes in mental function can also occur that may qualify as symptoms of mental illnesses such as:
- major depression
- anxiety disorders
- psychosis-related disorders
Examples of additional substances sometimes consumed by marijuana users include the stimulant cocaine, methamphetamine or other stimulants, opioid drugs or medications, inhalants, sedative-hypnotic medications (i.e., tranquilizers and sleep medications) and hallucinogens.
Drugs Linked To Marijuana Use
In the study published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, researchers from Brown University, Brown-affiliated Butler Hospital and the Veterans Administration used an examination of 1,075 people transitioning from adolescence to adulthood to determine the forms of polysubstance use most likely to occur among marijuana users in their late teens or very early 20s.
During interviews with the researchers, each of these study participants submitted information on his or level of involvement in marijuana use, as well as his or her level of involvement in the use of cocaine, stimulants other than cocaine, opioid drugs or medications, sedative-hypnotic medications, hallucinogens and/or inhalants. T
he researchers also gathered background information on such factors as each participant’s demographic profile (age, racial/ethnic ancestry, gender, etc.) and level of involvement in binge drinking.
Some of the young people enrolled in the study qualified as daily marijuana users, while others did not. After completing their analysis, the researchers concluded that daily consumers of the drug are substantially more likely than other people in the same age range to consume:
- non-cocaine stimulants
- opioid drugs and medications
This finding holds true even when considerations such as demographic profile and level of binge drinking involvement are taken into account.
Based on their findings, the study’s authors concluded that daily marijuana users are unusually likely to participate in polysubstance use during the transition between adolescence and early adulthood. They also concluded that these daily consumers of the drug may have increased chances of experiencing notably negative health outcomes.
It’s important to note that, even in the absence of polysubstance use, daily marijuana use has clearly negative health impacts. For example, figures compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate that roughly one-quarter to one-half of all daily consumers of the drug will eventually merit a diagnosis of cannabis addiction (part of a larger condition called cannabis use disorder).
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