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As laws and cultural norms regarding cannabis are changing, the increase in marijuana use among adults in the U.S. has become cause for alarm. Not only has marijuana use risen among blacks, Hispanics and women, but also among middle-aged Americans, low-income folks, and those living in the South.

With four states and D.C. legalizing the substance, it’s no wonder that there have also been assumptions that the risks of using pot are little to none… Though possession and use of marijuana in most states is still illegal, that doesn’t stop some adults from consuming it. A survey published last month by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) shows that 9.5% of Americans use marijuana and 30% of users meet the criteria for a disorder. New data proves that 3 in 10 people who use pot are addicted to it.

While it’s true that teens who use it have a much higher predictability of developing a serious addiction, adults certainly aren’t immune to the side effects of marijuana use. At the very least, they’ll likely experience red eyes, dry mouth, increased appetite and heart rate, and relaxed inhibitions. Adults aged 18 – 29 are at the highest risk for marijuana use disorder, according to NIAAA. People addicted to cannabis often suffer from other psychiatric disorders.

Why are adults using pot when the risks and potential harms are highly publicized? Part of the answer can be attributed to changing cultural norms in the U.S. Particularly over the last 10 years, cannabis has been glorified in movies and television, and its use has been socially accepted under circumstances like partying. It seems to be easily accessible to those who seek it out. These instances have opened avenues for conversation on the topic of marijuana use, especially among adults, law makers and voters. In addition to changing cultural norms, marijuana users seem to share a subculture that’s all their own.

NIAAA emphasizes that public education about the dangers associated with marijuana use, presented in a reasonable and balanced manner, is increasingly important to counteract public beliefs that marijuana use is harmless. Motivational enhancement therapy, or motivational interviewing, has been successful in helping inspire internally motivated change for individuals who use marijuana. 3rd Millennium Classroomsoffers Marijuana 101, an intervention course that’s used as a sanction for marijuana violations or possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as an educational component for DWI violations.

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