Marijuana Abuse: Stepping Stone to Addiction

an artists rendering of a marijuana leaf illustrating that marijuana use often serves as a gateway experience to drug addiction

Marijuana Abuse: Stepping Stone to Addiction


From the white picket fences of suburban America to the streets of urban jungles, marijuana is everywhere. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States. Since marijuana is so easily accessible, one can find a soccer mom enjoying fresh pot brownies or an inner-city teen smoking a blunt in an alley. Unfortunately, marijuana use can cause an inevitable craving for stronger substances, leading users down a long road of drug use.

The Marijuana Epidemic

Regardless of race, sex, age, and economic background, marijuana use is widespread. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 16.7 million Americans used marijuana in 2009. Children as young as 12 years of age have reported using marijuana. This widespread use could be attributed to the myths that the drug is natural, non-addictive and/or harmless. Marijuana may simply be a plant; a shredded mix of flowers, stems, seeds and leaves from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Once smoked or ingested, the effects of marijuana are detrimental and can include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Marijuana Abuse: Opening the Gateway

In reality, the misconceptions about marijuana contribute to its widespread use and the use of other drugs. The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that 60 percent of adolescents who use marijuana before they turn 15 later go on to use cocaine. In fact, 62 percent of adults who have used marijuana before the age of 15 have used cocaine, whereas only 0.6 percent of adult cocaine users have never used marijuana. This suggests that the younger people are when introduced to drugs through marijuana use, the more likely they are to use other drugs as adults. Chronic marijuana use can lead to long-term physical and psychological damage such as:

  • Respiratory, reproductive and immune system damage
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia
  • Problems with learning and memory

Marijuana Addiction Treatment: Closing the Portal

Treatment for marijuana addiction is essential before other, heavier drugs are thrown into the deadly mix. Breaking the habit of substance abuse is a difficult road that no one should take alone. According to the NIDA, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) are two therapeutic approaches that can help addicts address their drug use. These and other interventions are available at drug rehab centers.

References:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

Call Now and Make the Best Choice of Your Life

If you or a loved one is suffering from marijuana addiction and would like more information about quality drug rehab, please call a Stepping Stone Center coordinator now at 866-957-4960. Our coordinators are able to answer any questions that you may have regarding addiction treatment as many of them are in recovery themselves.