Marijuana & Alcohol

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Marijuana & Alcohol

28 July, 2021Articles, News

As legalisation spreads, more Americans and South Africans are becoming heavy users of marijuana, despite its links to violence and mental illness. The best data concerning the scope and effects of marijuana & alcohol use comes from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

The survey asks about problems users believe they have encountered because of their use. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) consolidates the answers to estimate how many would meet the clinical criteria for dependence (2.8 million) or abuse (an additional 1.4 million) set down by the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly referred to as the DSM-V). SAMHSA makes these calculations for all substances in an effort to estimate the nationwide need for treatment for each substance.

137 million people self-reported current alcohol use,of which 17.3 million described enough problems to meet the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, equivalent to one instance of alcohol abuse or dependence per 7.9 current users, or 13% of current users — significantly lower than the corresponding ratio for marijuana.

In 2012 the Treatment Episode Data Set recorded 681,374 treatment admissions for which the primary substance of abuse was alcohol and 305,560 for which it was marijuana or hashish. That works out to 15 admissions for every 1,000 current marijuana users versus only 5 for every 1,000 alcohol users.

What is clear is that, in individual cases, marijuana can cause psychosis, and psychosis is a high risk factor for violence. What’s more, much of that violence occurs when psychotic people are using drugs or alcohol. The drug they are most likely to use is marijuana. The most obvious way that it fuels violence in psychotic people- is through its ability to cause paranoia. In people with psychiatric disorders, paranoia can fuel violence.

A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, examining a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents, found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence in the U.S.A.. A 2017 paper in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, examining drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men, found that drug use was linked to a 5-fold increase in violence, and the drug used was nearly always cannabis.

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