Who Abuses Marijuana
Who abuses marijuana? There is no specific type of person who abuses marijuana. More than 83 million Americans (37 percent) age 12 and older have tried marijuana at least once, according to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). Marijuana has maintained its popularity for decades as the number one illicit drug in America. This drug is often considered safe, and is thought to be a gateway drug because of the perception by many of its users that it is mostly harmless. A gateway drug means that it usually opens the door for abusers to try other more powerful drugs in order to achieve an euphoric high. However, marijuana is a mind altering substance and it does have very real and lasting effects on the body.
In America, who abuses marijuana? An estimated 2.4 million Americans used marijuana for the first time in 2000. The annual number of new marijuana users has varied considerably since 1965 when there were an estimated 0.6 million new users. The number of new marijuana users reached a peak in 1976 and 1977 at around 3.2 million. Between 1990 and 1996, the estimated number of new users increased from 1.4 million to 2.5 million and has remained at this level.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. It is used by 76 percent of current illicit drug users. Approximately 59 percent of current illicit drug users consumed only marijuana, 17 percent used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 24 percent used an illicit drug but not marijuana in the past month. Therefore, about 41 percent of current illicit drug users in 2000 (an estimated 5.7 million Americans) used illicit drugs other than marijuana and hashish, with or without using marijuana as well. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population above the age of 12 has used marijuana at some point. That is about 97.8 million Americans. Who abuses marijuana today? Marijuana is most popular among those between the ages of 18 and 25, with 16.3 percent of them using marijuana in the past month. It is interesting to note that nearly everyone who tries marijuana for the first time, no matter their age, gets it from a friend.
Although its use is declining overall, marijuana has retained its popularity through the decades. Marijuana is so popular (39.8 percent of the U.S. population has tried marijuana at least once) in part because it is regarded as a relatively safe drug. However, efforts to educate youth about marijuana substance abuse may be contributing to its slight decline.
Who Abuses Marijuana? Young Adults and Marijuana Substance Abuse
As mentioned above, marijuana use is most common among young adults aged 18 to 25 (more than 16 percent have used marijuana in the last month). According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in this age group, marijuana is most popular with college students. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control report that 30.2 percent of college students have used marijuana in the past year.
It is worth noting that marijuana use is trending down in this segment of the population. Last year college student use was down from 33.3 percent in 2005. And young adults as a whole (this number includes college students) report a drop from 28.2 percent last year use to 27.7 percent.