“It’s a red flag. It sort of highlights that there’s a potential association that’s important here.”
~ Dr. Lynn Fiellin, Associate Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine
When marijuana was legalized in California, while there were several justifiable concerns. One of the most-debated issues was the question of whether or not marijuana is a “gateway drug” that could lead to the use of other ‘harder drugs”.
The Evidence Already Exists
But back in 2012, the question was already answered, by a study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine. Researchers found a definite link between the use of marijuana and prescription drug abuse, …….. particularly among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Significantly, there were gender-related differences:
- Among men within that age group, marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes were associated with a greater likelihood of prescription drug abuse.
- However, among women, only marijuana increased the risk of prescription drug abuse.
Altogether, young adults who use marijuana are 2.5 times more likely to misuse prescription medications than their peers who abstain.
This study dovetails neatly with an earlier survey that found that marijuana users are:
- At more than doubled risk of a prescription opioid use disorder
- 6 times more likely to initiate prescription painkiller misuse by:
- Taking pain meds without a prescription
- Exceeding recommended dosages
- Taking painkillers for longer periods of time
- Taking prescription opioids for recreational purposes
Chronic marijuana use can also lead to negative emotional states such as depression, feelings of alienation, and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are typically remedied with prescription tranquilizers – benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin.
Here’s the thing – “benzos” are severely habit-forming. Up to half of all users become drug-dependent.
What About Marijuana and Illicit Drugs?
Other research has shown that marijuana and other gateway drugs also lead to the use of illicit drugs:
- The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia found that minors who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use marijuana are 266 times more likely to use cocaine. And adults who used those substances have a likelihood of cocaine use that is 323 times greater.
- The fact that smoking pot increases the likelihood of prescription painkiller abuse is significant. 80% of heroin addicts begin by misusing painkillers. They move to heroin much cheaper and easier to obtain.
Legal Marijuana in San Diego Worsens the Problem
But when you compare the potency of marijuana today with the strains that were available when these studies and surveys were conducted, it’s easy to become even more concerned.
A generation ago, the average THC concentration in a typical marijuana strain was about 4%. But due to improved cross-breeding techniques, today’s strains can have an average potency of over 20% THC. Even worse, extremely-potent marijuana “wax” can be up to 99.7% THC.
Marijuana this strong has an enormous impact on still-developing teenage/young adult brain, which continues to mature into the mid-20s. An October 2018 study found that to the underage brain, marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. In fact, marijuana use before the age of 17 results in a more than quintupled risk of drug dependence or addiction later on in life.
What Does This Mean to YOU?
Because of medical and recreational cannabis are both legal in San Diego, it is almost a certainty that you or someone you care about smokes or otherwise consumes marijuana. And if that has further led to the abuse of other harder drugs, then you may need specialized professional help.
And if you live in Southern California, your best, most-trusted resource is Lasting Recovery outpatient drug rehab in San Diego. By using a treatment approach grounded in empirical evidence and based on a concept of total wellness, Lasting Recovery can help you safely regain both your sobriety and your balance in life.
To get the help you need, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY