Folks who report having resolved a problem with marijuana use appear to have done so at younger ages than those who resolved problems with alcohol or other drugs.

While study members also were much less likely to use any formal sources of assistance or support in resolving problems with marijuana than those whose problems were with other substances, that finding was less common in those who resolved a marijuana problem more recently, which may reflect the augmented availability and potency of marijuana in recent years.

A nationally representative sample of nearly 40,000 U.S. adults were asked “Did you used to have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?” Of more than 25,000 respondents, a little over 2,000 indicated they had determined such a problem and were sent a link to the full study survey, which asked a variety of questions such as the specific problem substances and details regarding how and when they had resolved their problem. More than half of all respondents reported resolving their problem with no assistance.

Cannabis-primary respondents were even less likely to have used official treatment or support services than were those determining problems with illegal drugs — 18 percent versus 42 percent — but were more likely to have participated in drug courts than those who had resolved alcohol problems — 24 percent versus 8 percent. Marijuana users also reported “addiction careers” — the years between their first use and problem resolution — that were significantly shorter than those of the alcohol group — 12 years versus 18 years, which may reflect the greater physical and mental health impairment related with alcohol and the continuing unlawfulness of cannabis.

Given the augmented levels of THC in products available today, the team investigated whether the use of formal support services had changed over time. Indeed, they found that use of outpatient services was more common in those resolving their problems within the past 5.5 years, while use of inpatient services was actually more common in those who resolved their problem around 20 years previously.