Prevalence and correlates of treatment utilization among adults with cannabis use disorder in the United States

Li-Tzy Wu, He Zhu, Paolo Mannelli, Marvin S Swartz
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2017 August 1, 177: 153-162

BACKGROUND: The increase in cannabis potency may have treatment implications for cannabis use disorder (CUD). Given the reported increase in prevalence of cannabis use among adults, there is a need to understand substance use treatment needs for CUD.

METHODS: We examined demographics and behavioral health indicators of adults aged ≥18 years that met criteria for past-year CUD (n=10,943) in the 2005-2013 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. We determined prevalence and correlates of past-year treatment use for alcohol/drug, any drug, and cannabis use related problems, to inform treatment efforts for CUD.

RESULTS: The majority of adults with past-year CUD were young adults aged 18-25 or men, had low income, and did not attend college. Two-thirds of adults with CUD met criteria for cannabis dependence, which was comparatively common among younger adults, women, low-income or publicly insured adults, and college-educated adults. Nicotine dependence (40.92%) and alcohol (44.07%) or other drug use disorder (19.70%) were prevalent among adults with CUD. Overall, less than 13% of adults with CUD had received alcohol/drug use treatment the past year; only 7.8% received cannabis-specific treatment. There was no significant yearly variation in treatment use prevalence over 9 years. In particular, Asian-Americans, women, and college-educated adults underutilized cannabis-specific treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: This large sample of adults with CUD reveals pervasive underutilization of cannabis-related treatment, especially in women, married adults, and those with college education, despite a high proportion of comorbid behavioral health problems.

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