Colorado legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Washington State decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use. More and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical uses. With the wave of legislative changes that support the use of marijuana in different contexts, it seems that almost everyone is forgetting the negative impacts that use of the drug can cause – not just on someone’s ability to function and succeed in daily life but the negative toll marijuana use takes on cognitive ability, physical health, and mental health.
More Evidence That Marijuana Use Has Negative Consequences
A recent study published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry sought to identify the prevalence of marijuana use among patients diagnosed with a mental illness. The responses of more than 43,000 people to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions were included. Outcome measures for the study included the frequency of marijuana use reported and the type of psychiatric diagnoses they had been given among some respondents as compared to the answers given by participants who were not living with a mental health diagnosis and did not report using marijuana.
It was found that not only did patients who had been living with a mental illness for at least 12 months smoke significantly more marijuana than their peers, but that they were more likely to use marijuana more frequently. Marijuana use was associated especially with certain mental health disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
People who had been living with a mental illness in the past year made up 72 percent of all marijuana users in the study, and researchers estimated that they ingested about 83 percent of the marijuana consumed and reported in the national study.
What Can We Learn?
The study seems to indicate that marijuana is often used as a way to self-medicate feelings of discomfort caused by mental health symptoms and that many patients simply aren’t getting the effective treatment they need to address the issue. Unfortunately, abuse of marijuana leads to problems of its own:
- An inability to function well at work and do things that can improve self-esteem and self-confidence among patients
- An inability to interact positively with other people
- An inability to learn how to manage one’s behavior
- Health problems
If marijuana abuse is an issue for someone you love, help is available. Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more about our intensive drug abuse and treatment programs.