a woman touches her face as she contemplates is marijuana a gateway drug

Is Marijuana A Gateway Drug?

The question, “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” comes up a lot for those who aren’t sure about the effects of cannabis. Some believe it’s a “soft” drug that doesn’t cause any harm. However, some think it’s harmful due to its addictive qualities.

According to data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the majority of those who use marijuana are less likely to move on to using other substances. That same claim goes on to state that there needs to be more research regarding marijuana as a gateway drug. If you or a loved one struggles with a marijuana addiction, it’s time to seek out a marijuana addiction treatment center

How Many People Use Marijuana?

A report published by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, over 94 million Americans admit to using marijuana at least one time in their lives. Data from American Marijuana show that they expect a $4.1 billion expenditure for cannabis in North America by 2022. That data further indicates that, as of 2017, American consumers were spending $25,997 on marijuana. You’ll also see in this data that, compared to the $300 billion Americans spend on painkillers, marijuana is at $100 billion.

Cannabis is now legal in some form in 29 states and the District of Columbia. With that level of legality, it’s no surprise that the industry has seen double-digit growth for several years. ArcView Market Research estimated that the legal cannabis market grew from $6.9 billion in 2016 to $21.8 billion by 2021. That’s a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 26%.

Marijuana is now being used for various medical conditions such as glaucoma, cancer, chronic pain, and others. In some states, marijuana can be used to treat PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that marijuana use was associated with a lower mortality rate from opioid overdose.

As more states legalize marijuana, both for medical and recreational use, the market for cannabis will continue to grow. That has clear implications for weed addiction rates and the physical health of users.

Does Marijuana Affect Your Health?

When the question of, “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” comes into play, questions about how it might affect health is also a concern. According to the CDC, nearly 36.7 million individuals have used marijuana in the past year. Let’s look at the potential health effects it might have:

  • Addiction: Statistics from the CDC indicate that one in ten users become addicted to marijuana
  • Brain Health: Marijuana has a direct impact on your brain, including parts responsible for attention, coordination, decision-making, emotions, learning, memory, and reaction time
  • Heart Health: Each time you use marijuana, it causes your heart to beat faster, which could lead to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Lung Health: Any form of inhaled or smoked marijuana causes damage to your lung tissues, including small blood vessel damage and scarring
  • Mental Health: Using marijuana frequently can cause anxiety, disorientation, and paranoia

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

Regarding the question, “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” many people disagree about whether it is or isn’t. As of right now, there’s no research pointing to a definitive answer. However, research does suggest that marijuana users typically won’t move on to using other “harder” substances.

People of any age, economic status, and sex can struggle with addiction, including marijuana. If they do, it’s critical to seek out an addiction treatment center

Are Treatments Available for Marijuana Addiction?

If someone uses marijuana daily, or almost every day, for ten years, then they need treatment for marijuana use disorder. These treatments are ideal for individuals who are using marijuana but have tried quitting six or more times. Treatments include:

  • CBT (Cognitive-behavioral therapy): CBT is when patients learn strategies for identifying and correcting behaviors that are causing issues. In doing so, they enhance their self-control and refrain from using drugs
  • Contingency Management: This management therapy involves frequent monitoring of specific behavior and, if those behaviors occur, the removal of a tangible reward
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: These interventions include producing a rapid and internally motivated change by mobilizing an individual’s internal resources for engagement and change in treatment
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy: During this approach involves at least one caregiver while focusing on four related treatments. These treatments include domains such as the adolescent, parental, interactional, and extrafamilial domain

Do You Need Help With Weed Addiction?

Do you have questions about, “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” Are you wondering if you or someone you know might have a marijuana addiction? No one should have to navigate through these concerns alone. Contact Washburn House at 855.298.3104 to receive answers to your questions and learn how we can help.

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