Prescription Use Declining While Marijuana Use Up


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and has been for several years. While many use it for personal pleasure, there are also many who use it for medical purposes. Interestingly enough, while the rate of marijuana use has consistently gone up, a national survey also shows a reduced rate of prescription drug use among young adults. According to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the rate of past month’s nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults (18-25 years old) in 2012 was 5.3%. This is much lower than 2009’s rate, which was 6.4%. Is there a connection between these two statistics? If so, what could it be?

Health Benefits of Marijuana

First of all, what are the ‘promoted’ health benefits of marijuana? Ancient Indian writings confirm that marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for approximately 4000 years. While there has been no proof that marijuana is actually able to cure anything, some say that marijuana can treat symptoms of pain or nausea that are caused by multiple illnesses.

Marijuana has been known to give people relief from muscle spasms or chronic pain, increase and restore metabolism and suppression from nausea. Marijuana can help AIDS patients with the nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting from the condition itself and medications. Marijuana relieves the internal eye pressure of glaucoma, and therefore relieving the pain and slowing or even stopping the condition. Many side effects of the medication to stop cancer can be relieved with marijuana. Some studies even suggest that marijuana tends to slow down the progress of some types of cancer. In some patients, epileptic seizures can be prevented with marijuana use. says that marijuana helps to alleviate the pain caused from many types of injuries and disorders.

Marijuana vs Prescription Drugs

Now, what is the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs? While there have been no studies that have concrete evidence for a theory, there are a few possible reasons. Firstly, the legalization of marijuana took a huge step forward last year when both Colorado and Washington voted to legalize adult social use of marijuana. Prior to this, eighteen states permitted marijuana for medical purposes only. For obvious reasons, the legalization of marijuana for social use is sure to increase the rate.

Secondly, most, if not all, prescription drugs have harmful or painful side effects. Many people use marijuana to deal with these side effects. Some of the most common of these include headaches, stomachaches, joint and muscle pain and decreased control over bodily functions, as well as psychological side effects such as depression or suicidal thoughts. In addition, Quest Diagnostics says that most patients about 60% of patients failed to use their prescription drugs as indicated by their ordering physician in 2012. Prescription drug misuse continues to be a healthcare concern for a significant percentage of patients. This misuse of prescription drugs only intensifies any harmful side effects and can create a serious problem.

Still Much to Learn

For now, the statistics show how the changing levels of usage between different types of drugs. However, the medical field is one in which life-changing discoveries are being made at an exponential pace. New and improved prescription drugs are constantly being made. Perhaps soon there will be some that have no side effects at all. Perhaps doctors will find a way to use marijuana in ways that we haven’t even dreamed. Only time and our scientists will tell.