Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Marijuana use among older adults in the U.S.A.: user characteristics, patterns of use, and implications for intervention

  • Diana M. DiNitto and Namkee G. Choi

Abstract

Background: Epidemiological studies show that the number of older adults using marijuana is increasing. This study aimed to determine the correlates and patterns of marijuana use among older adults that might help health and social service providers better assist this group.

Methods: Data are from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S.A. The sample consisted of 5,325 adults aged 50 years and older.

Results: Of the sample, 2.8% were past-year marijuana users. Of them, 23% had used marijuana on at least half the days of the year. Past-year users were more likely to be younger (50–64 years old), black, and not married, and they had significantly higher psychological distress scores, but they did not rate their health as poorer than others in the sample, nor did they attribute many problems, including psychological problems, as being related to their marijuana use. Nevertheless, past-year users present a high-risk profile because, in addition to frequent marijuana use, they also are more likely to smoke cigarettes, engage in binge drinking, and use other illicit drugs.

Conclusions: Health and social service providers should be alert to the small number of routine marijuana users among the younger members of the older adult population, especially those suffering significant psychological distress, so that these individuals can be encouraged to utilize services that will help alleviate this distress and promote a healthier lifestyle and increase general well being.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Diana DiNitto, School of Social Work, i University Station, D3500, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-0358, U.S.A. Phone: +1 512 471 9227; Fax: +1 512 471 9600. Email: ddinitto@mail.utexas.edu.

References

Hide All
Blazer, D. G. and Wu, L. (2009). The epidemiology of substance use and disorders among middle aged and elderly community adults: National Survey on Drug Use and Health. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 237245.
Blow, F. C. (1998). Substance Abuse Among Older Adults. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 26, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 983179. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=hstat5.chapter.48302; last accessed 10 June 2010.
Bovasso, G. B. (2001). Cannabis use as a risk factor for depressive symptoms. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 20332037.
Coggans, N., Dalgarno, P., Johnson, L. and Shewan, D. (2004). Long-term heavy cannabis use: implications for health education. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 11, 299313.
Colliver, J. D., Compton, W. M., Gfroerer, J. C. and Condon, T. (2006). Projecting drug use among aging baby boomers in 2020. Annals of Epidemiology, 16, 257265.
Crome, I. and Crome, P. (2005). “At your age, what does it matter?”: myths and realities about older people who use substances. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 12, 343347.
Furukawa, T. A., Kessler, R. C., Slade, T. and Andrews, G. (2003). The performance of the K6 and K10 screening scales for psychological distress in the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being. Psychological Medicine, 33, 357362.
Gfroerer, J. C. and Epstein, J. F. (1999). Marijuana initiates and their impact on future drug abuse treatment need. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 54, 229237.
Gfroerer, J., Penne, M., Pemberton, M. and Folsom, R. (2003). Substance abuse treatment need among older adults in 2020: the impact of the aging baby-boom cohort. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 69, 127135.
Glintborg, B., Olsen, L., Poulsen, H., Linnet, K. and Dalhoff, K. (2008). Reliability of self-reported use of amphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, methadone, and opiates among acutely hospitalized elderly medical patients. Clinical Toxicology, 46, 239242.
Hall, W. and Degenhardt, , , L. (2000). Cannabis use and psychosis: a review of clinical and epidemiological evidence. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 2634.
Kessler, R. C. et al. (2002). Short screening scales to monitor population prevalences and trends in nonspecific psychological distress. Psychological Medicine, 32, 959976.
Kessler, R. C. et al. (2003). Screening for serious mental illness in the general population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 184189.
Pearson, G. (2001). Normal drug use: ethnographic fieldwork among an adult network of recreational drug users in inner London. Substance Use and Misuse, 36, 167200.
Rey, J. M. and Tennant, C. C. (2002). Cannabis and mental health. BMJ, 325, 11831184.
Rockett, I. R. H., Putnam, S. L., Jia, H. and Smith, G. S. (2006). Declared and undeclared substance use among emergency department patients: a population-based study. Addiction, 101, 706712.
Sedensky, M. (2010, February 22). Marijuana use by seniors goes up as baby boomers age. Huffington Post. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/22/marijuana-use-by-seniors-_n_471296.html; last accessed 10 June 2010.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2007). Older Adults in Substance Abuse Treatment: 2005. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://download.ncadi.samhsa.gov/prevline/pdfs/DASISRPT07-1108.pdf; last accessed 10 June 2010.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2009). Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-36, HHS Publication No. SMA 09-4434. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/2k8nsduh/2k8Results.htm#8.0.2; last accessed 10 June 2010.
van Os, J., Bak, M., Hanssen, M., Bijl, R. V., de Graaf, R. and Verdoux, H. (2002). Cannabis use and psychosis: a longitudinal, population-based survey. American Journal of Epidemiology, 156, 319327.
Williamson, E. M. and Evans, F. J. (2000). Cannabinoids in clinical practice. Drugs, 60, 13031314.

Keywords

Marijuana use among older adults in the U.S.A.: user characteristics, patterns of use, and implications for intervention

  • Diana M. DiNitto and Namkee G. Choi

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed