Drug Law
Drug Law

Increase in Marijuana Rehab Matches Increase in Arrests

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville

The US News & World Report Health Section reports on a ten-year look at drug rehab admissions (known as the Treatment Episode Data Set, or TEDS) with the frightening statistic that admissions to rehab for marijuana are way up!

Drug Abuse Treatment Rates on the Rise: U.S. Report

A 15% drop for alcohol abuse while cases of marijuana, prescription painkiller abuse rise

Admissions for alcohol abuse treatment have remained the same in parts of the Midwest and South while dropping elsewhere in the United States, while treatment rates for illegal drugs are increasing across the country, especially for marijuana abuse, according to a new report.

The overall rate of substance abuse admissions in the United States remained stable from 1998 to 2008, at about 770 admissions per 100,000 people.

Admission rates for marijuana use rose by 30 percent nationwide.

Let’s see if I understand this: from 1998-2008 we have the same rate of people admitted to treatment for drug abuse but now fewer of them are alcoholics and more of them are cannabis consumers?

Did problem drinking decrease in that decade?  This table tells me that alcohol-related motor-vehicle fatalities have remained consistently between 36%-38% during that decade. Per capita consumption of beer, wine, and spirits actually increased from 2.14 gallons per year per person in 1998 to 2.31 gallons by 2007. More alcohol being consumed, the same number of alcohol-related deaths on our roads, yet fewer people getting help for their alcohol abuse problems.

Meanwhile we’ve got 30% more admissions to rehab for cannabis consumers between 1998-2008? You know what else increased from 1998-2008? Marijuana arrests and the use of drug courts that force marijuana arrestees to choose between rehab and jail.


The FBI Uniform Crime Report shows marijuana arrests increased by 10,000 to the 2nd highest-levels ever recorded

In 1998 there were 682,885 arrests for marijuana nationwide; in 2008 there were 847,863 arrests, an increase of 24% – surprise! In 1998, there were 347 “drug courts” nationwide; in 2008 there were 2,301, an increase of 592%.

According to the TEDS, 57% of the people admitted to rehab for marijuana are court/criminal justice referrals, a figure that largely represents people who have merely been caught with marijuana. Only 15% of referrals are folks who refer themselves for treatment of a marijuana dependence.

Now compare that to alcohol, where only 39% of those in alcohol rehab are there because they were referred by a court. Keep in mind that to earn a court referral for legal alcohol, you have to have committed an actual crime, like DUI, to earn that type of referral. Self referrals for alcohol are 30% – double the rate for marijuana.

To compare further, let’s look at the use of marijuana and alcohol by those going to rehab. 38% of those in rehab who had been using daily used alcohol, while only 11% had used marijuana daily. 37% of the marijuana users hadn’t even used marijuana in the thirty days prior to being admitted to rehab.

The facts are that arrests for marijuana lead to rehab admissions for marijuana whether the users need treatment or not. This is a shift of drug rehab resources from alcoholics and hard drug addicts who need treatment to marijuana users who don’t. I suspect it’s also much more likely a marijuana user is employed and has the kind of health insurance that pays the bills for drug rehab compared to the average heroin addict.