We’ve all seen the character in movies who’s in his thirties and still lives at home, and spends most of his time sitting around watching TV and smoking pot. It turns out that guy may be more common in real life than previously thought.
A study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal found that people who smoked marijuana heavily for more than four days a week for several consecutive years had more financial and social problems than those who did not. They ended up in a lower social class than their parents. They generally had lower paying jobs and had work-related problems. They also had more problems with interpersonal relationships. Some even displayed antisocial behavior and had problems with domestic abuse and violence. The study also noted that those problems got worse as the number of years of marijuana use increased. If you know someone that has a marijuana addiction, call Legacy Freedom for affordable drug rehab in Raleigh, NC.
Heavy Pot Use and Midlife Crisis
The project spanned over four decades. They followed people from age 3 to 38 in order to see the effects of drug and alcohol use on a person’s life. They tried to incorporate a full range of socioeconomic backgrounds. They followed up with participants every three years. They accounted for other things that could account for the problems, such as depression, lower IQs and people who already came from low income backgrounds. The results tended to be the same regardless.
The study followed 1,037 children well into adulthood in New Zealand. They were careful to include a range of socioeconomic statuses in order to get a broad range of people, from those who may be more likely to begin smoking marijuana because of their environment to those who may not be at risk.
There were 947 participants who completed the assessments involving marijuana use from age 18 to 38. Researchers measured the frequency of their use and used a scale to determine if they met the criteria of marijuana dependence. Of the participants, 18 percent were considered dependent on marijuana in one part of the study. Another 15 percent were considered regular users in another segment of the study. If you know someone with substance abuse problems, call Legacy Freedom. We offer affordable drug rehab in Raleigh.
One of the researchers, Magdalena Cerdá, said in an article in Medical Daily, “I was surprised at the robustness of our results. Regardless of how we looked at the relationship between persistent, regular cannabis use and economic and social problems, we got the same results.”
She went on to say, “Regular and persistent use of cannabis could also lead people to become involved with friends and social environments that discourage work-related achievement and material success.”
She did note that other influences that may not have been factored in could make people vulnerable to the same problems and they may not have anything to do with smoking marijuana regularly.
Cerdá also mentioned that the legalization of marijuana could cause a large impact on society because it will be more widely available and more acceptable. She believes that marijuana is not necessarily safer than alcohol as many advocates claim.
"Alcohol is still a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol use is more prevalent than cannabis use," Cerdá said in Science Daily. "But, as the legalization of cannabis increases around the world, the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase as well."
A 2012 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that the opinions regarding marijuana have changed dramatically in the past few years. Teens especially see marijuana as less risky.
Cerdá is quick to note that she and her team are neither for nor against legalization of marijuana.
"Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization," said Cerdá. "But it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study."
Do you feel your marijuana use is causing problems in other areas of your life? Give us a call at Legacy so you can talk with an admissions counselor about our programs for drug rehab in Raleigh. We have many different options in treatment to accommodate the needs of our patients. We can help you with a plan that works for you. Call us today.
The researchers measured the problems of the participants when they were in their late 30s using surveys and public data including credit scores and government assistance records. They compared the socioeconomic status of the participants's parents at their age and found that most were in a lower social class. The parents of the participants held jobs with higher rankings and their finances were in better shape.
The findings also bring to light the effects it can have on society, not just the individual. A decline in social status among people can affect the community in general. People who are not working, productive members of a community can’t contribute in positive ways. If they reply on government assistance to get by, it will also have an effect on their community, state and the country as whole.
Cerdá brought up an interesting point, stating that “Regular and persistent use of cannabis could also lead people to become involved with friends and social environments that discourage work-related achievement and material success.”
Researchers think the next step in what could become a public health issue is to figure out what causes a regular marijuana smokers to have more problems. It is somewhat of a chicken and egg situation. Does someone turn to marijuana in order to cope with the financial and personal problems he or she already has, or does he or she develop those problems from using the drug?
In addition to learning how it affects an individual, more research will need to be done to examine the socioeconomic effects of the legalization of marijuana.
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