A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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Treatment for Marijuana Use

Addictive Drugs
Treatment for Marijuana Use

Treatment for Marijuana Use

Those who use marijuana often insist it is harmless, and some believe that it is useful as a relief for chronic pain. There are, however, many psychological and physiological adverse effects associated with the drug, and many who use the drug become addicted to it.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regularly releases reports detailing admissions data for those who seek treatment for substance abuse. Recently, the administration provided the latest information about those who seek treatment for marijuana abuse, with data for the year 2009.

The report indicates that 740,800 individuals reported that they abused marijuana when entering substance abuse treatment during 2009. Of those, approximately 170,100 (23 percent) reported that they used marijuana on a daily basis.

Males were much more likely to use marijuana, making up 72.2 percent of admissions. Marijuana users were also largely unmarried (77.1 percent) and primarily non-Hispanic White (55.1 percent). They were likely to be young or middle-aged adults and about one-fifth reported that marijuana was their only substance of abuse. The majority of users, however, indicated that they also abused other substances. About a third of users met criteria for another psychological disorder.

As the individuals increased with age, they were more likely to report using an additional substance. Those aged 12 to 17 years were much less likely than older individuals to report multiple substances. While about two-thirds of those aged 12 to 17 used other substances, 80.3 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 25 reported additional substances of abuse. Those between the ages of 26 to 49 reported additional substances at a rate of 88.3 percent and 92.2 percent of those above the age of 50 used other substances in addition to marijuana.

Age was also related to the substance used in addition to marijuana. Those aged between 12 and 17 years were less likely to use cocaine or heroin, and those aged 50 or older were more likely to use alcohol as their additional substance of abuse.

In addition, those aged 50 or older were very likely to report a co-occurring psychiatric problem, with 38.5 percent reporting an additional disorder.

The most common type of treatment prescribed for marijuana users was outpatient care, with 43.1 percent of admissions using outpatient care. About 17.8 percent of admissions were enrolled in detoxification and 15.4 percent received short-term residential care.

Approximately 34.3 percent of admissions were received via the criminal justice system, and 33.9 percent were admitted through self-referral. Substance abuse care providers referred approximately 11.7 percent.

About half (54.3 percent) of admissions had been enrolled in treatment at least one time before, and 8.9 percent of admissions had entered treatment at least five times before.

The findings provided by SAMHSA highlight the possible need for age-based intervention and education related to marijuana abuse.


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