Gender gap widens among marijuana users, suggests study

Gender gap widens among marijuana users, suggests study

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. In recent years, attitudes towards marijuana use have become increasingly permissive, with growing discussions around legalizing it in several states in the U.S.

Since marijuana is used as a medicinal agent to alleviate pain in several chronic diseases, many people are beginning to believe that marijuana is safe for consumption. However, cannabis is a drug, and its use can impact the users’ perception and judgment, with long-term use leading to addiction.

Gender gap in users

A new study aimed at studying trends of marijuana users in the past years was conducted by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The research, led by Hannah Carliner, found that though the use of marijuana consistently increased through 2002 to 2014, since 2007, more men have started using marijuana than women. Compared to 2002, an additional six million men and four million women have started using the drug in 2014. The findings of this study have been published in the online journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Carliner and her team examined the use of marijuana among both the genders and whether this gender difference varied across income levels. The team used survey data from the 2002–2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a yearly survey of Americans aged 12 and above, as the basis of the study.

The researchers found that while the number of pot smokers remained constant at around 13 percent among adult males (12.4 million men) and 7 percent among adult females (7.7 million women) through 2002 to 20007; by 2014, this increased to 16.9 percent in men (18.4 million) and 10.1 percent in women (11.7 million).

While some of this increase in numbers could be attributed to the growing attitudes of acceptance of pot, the researchers felt that this did not adequately explain the sharp spike in usage in 2007, or why suddenly, the number of men using cannabis increased more than the number of women.

However, the team researched further and found that the increasing gender gap in marijuana users was seen only in households where the annual income was less than $50,000. During the period of the study, the use of marijuana rose about 6 percent among men in households earning less than $20,000 per year, and only 2 percent among women in the same income group. These changes paralleled with the beginning of the Great Recession and rising unemployment rate seen in 2007. The largest percentage-based increase, that is, 6.2 percent was found among men whose income was pegged at the lowest level.

Thus, the study concluded that the stress of economic problems and financial insecurity contributed to the increase in drug use among men. Carliner confirmed this stating that though economic recovery began around 2012, it largely bypassed men in the low-income manufacturing and construction fields, where earning and employment rates remained low.

Drug abuse and recovery

At times of stress, people look for coping mechanisms, and some turn to marijuana abuse. Although many people think that weed is relatively harmless, abusing it can lead to addiction and mental health problems. If you know someone struggling with addiction to marijuana or any other drug, it’s time to reach out for professional support. Contact the California Drug Addiction Helpline to find the top rehabs in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1946 or chat online with our experts to find the right addiction rehab program at one of the reputed addiction treatment centers in California.