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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Columbia: Cannabis Use Disorder Is Declining Among Young Adolescents and Young Adults

The prevalence of cannabis use disorder decreased in 2002 to 2016 among frequent users, according to a new study conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Changes in social attitudes and the traits of frequent users may explain the decline. This is one of the first studies to examine the general health profile of people using cannabis daily or almost daily and the trends in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder in this population. The findings are in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Contrary to expectations, the frequency of cannabis use disorder among people reporting daily/almost daily use decreased significantly between 2002-2016, said Dr. Silvia Martins, associate professor of epidemiology. “The findings contradict the predominating hypothesis that the prevalence of DSM-IV CUD would be stable, or increase, among those using with this regularity.”

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2002-2016 included 22,651 individuals using cannabis 300+ days in the past year. Cannabis use disorder was defined using DSM-IV criteria for cannabis abuse and/or dependence. Age categories included: 12-17, 18-25, and 26 and older.

From 2002-2016, the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among people reporting daily or almost daily use decreased across all age groups — by 27 percent in adolescents, by 30 percent in ages 18-25, and by 37.5 percent for those age 26 and older.

“There could be several reasons behind these declining rates,” noted Dr. Martins. “First, the new national cannabis policy environment may have played a role in reducing stigma and perceptions of risk. Secondly, increasing legalization may also be associated with changes in social attitudes resulting in fewer conflicts with relatives and friends around use.”

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