Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

Marijuana Abuse Rising Among Adults

Marijuana Use Remains Steady, Dependence on Drug Increasing
WebMD Health News

May 4, 2004 -- The number of Americans who use marijuana is holding steady, but a growing number of adults are abusing or dependent on the drug, according to a new study.

Researchers say that trend suggests that the marijuana being sold and used in the U.S. is becoming increasingly potent, which raises the potential risks of drug abuse.

The study shows that marijuana use has remained stable over the last decade with about 4% of adults reporting use of the illegal drug in the past year. But overall rates of marijuana abuse or dependence rose from 1.2% in 1991-1992 to 1.5% in 2001-2002.

"This can be translated into an increase from 2.2 million to 3.0 million, respectively, in terms of population estimates," write Wilson M. Compton, MD, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues.

They define an addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain.

Although the rates of marijuana dependence and abuse among white young adults remains high, researchers say the most dramatic increases were among young black men and women and young Hispanic men.

Marijuana Abuse Rising

In the study, which appears in the May 5 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at changes in marijuana use, abuse, and dependence in the U.S. based on two large national surveys conducted 10 years apart in 1991-1992 and in 2001-2002.

Researchers found about 4% of the respondents reported using marijuana in the past year in both surveys. However, certain groups did show significant increases in marijuana use, such as young black and Hispanic women and middle-age men and women.

The study also showed that marijuana abuse was more common than dependence, and both increased during the last decade. Rates of marijuana abuse rose from 0.9% to 1.1% and dependence increased from 0.3% to 0.4%.

Among those who reported marijuana use in the last year, the rates of abuse or dependence on the drug rose even more significantly, from about 30% in 1991-1992 to nearly 36% in 2001-2002.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting