Daily Marijuana Use Surpasses Daily Drinking

A recent analysis of national drug and alcohol survey data has found that for the first time, the number of Americans who use marijuana just about every day has surpassed the number who drink that often. According to study authors, this dramatic shift was “some 40 years in the making as recreational marijuana use became more mainstream and legal in nearly half of U.S. states.”

A look at the data shows that in 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers. Historically, daily marijuana use hit an all time low in 1992, with less than 1 million people responding to surveys stating they used marijuana “nearly every day.”

It’s important to note that alcohol is still more widely used; however, 2022 was the first year marijuana use outpaced “high intensity drinking,” according to study author Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” Caulkins said.

The research, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was published in the journal Addiction. The survey is a highly regarded source of estimates of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use in the United States.

A Rise In The Popularity Of Marijuana

As previously noted, the dramatic increase in daily marijuana use can be largely attributed to changes in public policy. Currently, marijuana is medically or recreationally legal in 24 states including the District of Columbia. While these states do allow for some level of marijuana use, it still remains illegal at the federal level.

Florida is the latest state to potentially join those that have legalized marijuana, with voters deciding on a constitutional amendment allowing for recreational marijuana use in November.

With a near majority of states now allowing for some level of marijuana use, addiction experts have begun raising concerns over potential addiction risks.

According to Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, “high frequency marijuana users are more likely to become addicted than those who use marijuana less frequently.” Gorelick went on to suggest that the increase in high-frequency users means that more people are at risk for a marijuana addiction.

“High frequency use also increases the risk of developing cannabis-associated psychosis,” a severe condition where a person loses touch with reality, he said.

The Dangers Of High-Frequency Marijuana Use

Marijuana, like any other drug, can have a variety of effects on the body, both mentally and physically. These effects can range from things as mild as bloodshot eyes and coughing, to more serious effects like paranoia and anxiety.

Some of the most common physical side effects and risks of high-frequency marijuana use include:

  • A higher likelihood of developing bronchitis, when a person smokes marijuana.
  • Lung irritation from irritants including some carcinogens.
  • A weakened immune system due to tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis.
  • Increased heart rate
  • Interference with brain development among teenagers.
  • Worsening of existing lung conditions, like asthma.

Some of the most common psychological effects of high-frequency marijuana use include:

  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Worsening symptoms in those with schizophrenia
  • Problems with memory
  • Symptoms of withdrawal after long-term use
  • Temporary paranoia and hallucinations

One of the more significant risks of high-frequency marijuana use, as previously mentioned, is the increased risk of addiction.

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Signs Of A Marijuana Addiction

As more and more states join in legalizing marijuana, the number of daily marijuana users will also increase. While many of these users may begin partaking in more frequent marijuana use, they may be unaware of the signs that their marijuana use has become a problem.

According to the most recent data, approximately 1 in 10 adult users of marijuana develop cannabis use disorder. While the signs and symptoms of a marijuana use disorder can vary from person-to-person, some of the most common include:

  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Multiple attempts to stop marijuana use with no success
  • Spending large amounts of time using marijuana
  • Missing out on important events like work or school due to marijuana use
  • Using marijuana while driving or during other risky activities
  • Needing more marijuana than usual to achieve a high (tolerance)
  • Having issues with memory or attention

For those with a marijuana addiction, the risk for withdrawal symptoms is also a significant concern. As the body grows dependent on marijuana, you may experience adverse feelings or symptoms when you try to quit. These may include feelings of irritability, restlessness, inability to sleep, or issues with mood or temper.

Find Help Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with their marijuana use, it may be time to seek professional help. While many view marijuana as a recreational, “harmless” drug, the reality is that just like any other substance, marijuana can become addictive. This means that quitting may not be a question of whether or not you want to, but rather, something that requires the help of treatment.

To learn more about marijuana addiction treatment options, contact a treatment provider today to learn more.

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Zachary Pottle

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  • Zachary Pottle earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Saint Leo University and has over three years of journalistic experience. His passion for writing has led him to a career in journalism, where he specializes in writing about stories in the pain management and healthcare industry. His main goal as a writer is to bring readers accurate, trustworthy content that serve as useful resources for bettering their lives or the lives of those around them.

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