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Adult marijuana abuse, dependence increased during 1990s

In an article appearing in the May 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), addiction researchers at the National Institutes of Health compared marijuana use in the U.S. adult population in 199192 and 200102. They found that the number of people reporting use of the drug remained substantially the same in both time periods, but the prevalence of marijuana abuse or dependence increased markedly. This new study showed that increases in the prevalence of abuse or dependence were most notable among young African-American men and women and young Hispanic men.

This is the first study to assess long-term trends in marijuana abuse and dependence in the United States using the most up-to-date classification system--the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

The researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) compared trends in marijuana use, abuse, and dependence using the DSM-IV categories. The DSM defines marijuana abuse as repeated instances of use under hazardous conditions; repeated, clinically meaningful impairment in social/occupational/educational functioning; or legal problems related to marijuana use. Marijuana dependence is defined as increased tolerance, compulsive use, impaired control, and continued use despite physical and psychological problems caused or exacerbated by use.

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the United States, and its use is associated with educational underachievement, reduced workplace productivity, motor vehicle accidents, and increased risk of use of other substances," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "This study suggests that we need to develop ways to monitor the continued rise in marijuana abuse and dependence and strengthen existing prevention and intervention efforts, particularly developing a
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Contact: Blair Gately
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
4-May-2004


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