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Does Marijuana Increase the Risk of Substance Use Disorders?

mariuana and the risk of substance abuseMarijuana has been termed a gateway drug by some while being touted as a medical miracle cure by others, depending on who you talk to. New research suggests that marijuana use can increase the risk of substance abuse disorders in people who use this drug though. According to Health Day the study does not show marijuana use associated with a higher risk for the development of anxiety or mood disorders though. Columbia University Medical Center lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson explained that “This new finding raises the possibility that the recent rise in marijuana use may be contributing to the coincident rise in serious harms related to narcotics and other drugs of abuse.” The study involved close to 35,000 adults who were interviewed at 3 year intervals.

During the initial interview for the study on marijuana and substance use disorders close to 1,300 participants reported using marijuana. Three years later around 65% of these individuals had developed at least one form of substance use disorders, while only 20% of the participants who did not use marijuana within the last 12 months developed the same disorders. Individuals who used marijuana at leats one time each month had much higher substance use disorder rates. Olfson did note that there is no cause and effect relationship proven by the study, meaning that it does not definitively prove marijuana use causes other substance use disorders. Olfson said “In the ongoing national debate concerning whether to legalize recreational marijuana, the public and legislators should take into consideration the potential for marijuana use to increase the risk of developing alcohol abuse and other serious drug problems.”