Santa Cruz County Faces New Health Alert: Daily Pot Use Overtakes Alcohol. Doctor Explains

Cover Image: Santa Cruz County Faces New Health Alert: Daily Pot Use Overtakes Alcohol. Doctor Explains

In this article, Dr. Shelandra Bell, DO, Family Medicine, shares her expert insights of the findings and provides Arizona residents with evidence-based recommendations for protecting their health.

Why This Matters to You: For the first time, daily marijuana use has surpassed daily alcohol consumption in the U.S.

What This Means for Your Health: "...daily or near-daily cannabis consumption can increase the risk of developing dependency and other health issues--including mental health disorders like cannabis-associated psychosis..." Dr. Shelandra Bell, Family Medicine

Doctor's Expert Insights about health risks associated with high-frequency marijuana use in Santa Cruz County, Arizona

Know this: "Many people mistakenly believe that marijuana is harmless, but you should know that regular use can lead to addiction, cognitive impairments, and a host of other health problems. Psychiatrists in Santa Cruz County are particularly concerned about the link between daily marijuana use and psychotic disorders.

But, the risks don't stop there. Cardiologists and respiratory specialists across Arizona are also warning about the potential impact of regular marijuana use on heart and lung health. Smoking marijuana can lead to many of the same respiratory issues as tobacco smoking--chronic bronchitis, cough, and increased risk of infections are just a few of the potential consequences.

As cannabis becomes more mainstream and legally accessible--this may influence future legislation and healthcare strategies. Long-term, we could see shifts in how cannabis-related health issues are managed. This could include the management of the increases in demand for mental health services and addiction treatment.

In fact, regular screenings for substance use should include questions about cannabis to identify high-frequency users early and provide necessary interventions." Dr. Shelandra Bell, Family Medicine.

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Actionable steps: If you or a loved one is living with asthma in Santa Cruz County, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with exposure to marijuana smoke indoors. While many people focus on the dangers of tobacco smoke, recent studies have shown that marijuana smoke can have similar toxic effects on lung health.

Further steps: For those managing asthma, it's essential to take proactive steps to protect your lungs and minimize exposure to indoor marijuana smoke. This includes ensuring that your living and working spaces are smoke-free.

Also, you're within your rights to advocate for your right to breathe clean air in shared environments.

It's also crucial to continue taking your prescribed asthma medications as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you feel your symptoms are under control! "Asthma is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management," reminds Dr. Uppal. "Regularly using your preventive inhalers can help reduce inflammation in your airways and prevent sudden asthma attacks."

Resource: "SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders."

Call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

The Science Made Simple: Key Findings of the Research and What They Mean for Santa Cruz County Residents.

Things to know about a new study that shows Americans are using marijuana more than alcohol.

Addiction Risk:

Research indicates that high-frequency marijuana users across Arizona are more likely to develop cannabis use disorder (CUD). CUD is a form of addiction that can negatively impact daily living and overall well-being.

Cognitive Impairment: The research highlights the potential for high-frequency marijuana use to lead to cognitive impairments. This can lead to difficulties with memory, attention, and decision-making--and certainly, these deficits can affect users' performance at work or school.

Substance Use Disorders: Addiction specialists across Arizona have noted that high-frequency marijuana use may increase the likelihood of developing other substance use disorders--as individuals may seek out stronger or more addictive substances to achieve desired effects.

Other issues of concern included respiratory issues, increased cardiovascular risks, and impaired driving.

Comparison with Alcohol Use: The study compared trends in cannabis use with alcohol use, finding that in 2022, for the first time, there were more daily and near-daily users of cannabis than alcohol (17.7 million vs. 14.7 million).

Frequency of Use: High-frequency use is more common with cannabis than alcohol. In 2022, the median cannabis user reported using 15-16 days in the past month, when compared to 4-5 days for the median drinker.

Proportion of Daily and Near-Daily Users: In 2022, past-month cannabis consumers were almost four times as likely to report daily or near-daily use compared to past-month alcohol consumers (42.3% vs. 10.9%).

Conclusion: As the prevalence of high-frequency marijuana use continues to rise in Santa Cruz County and across Arizona. It is crucial for residents to be aware of the potential health risks associated with daily or near-daily cannabis consumption.

The study reveals significant changes in self-reported cannabis use in the United States over the past four decades. Use trends are mirroring shifts in cannabis policy.

Of note: While the study does not establish a causal relationship between policy changes and use patterns, it highlights the need for further research and consideration of the public health implications of evolving cannabis policies and consumption habits.

The Bottom Line: A substantial increase in daily and near-daily cannabis use has surpassed alcohol use. This suggests that cannabis use is now on a fundamentally different scale than it was before legalization efforts began.

"A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use..." Jonathan P. Caulkins, PhD. (Associated Press Interview)

What They're Saying: "Growth is most striking for DND (daily or near daily) use, defined here as reporting use on 21 or more days in the past month.2 From 1992 to 2022, there was a 15-fold increase in the per capita rate of reporting DND marijuana use (in absolute terms, from 0.9 million to 17.7 million DND users). That was because of a fivefold increase in the number of PM users (from 7.9 to 41.9 million) and a fourfold increase in the proportion of PM users who report DND use (from 11% to 42%)." (Study Source)

Read More: Cannabis Use Linked to Increased Psychiatric Disorders. Doctor Explains

Health Standard Newswire: Healthcare guidance is important when addressing frequent cannabis use. You're not alone in the struggle.

Key Health and Medical Statistics of Santa Cruz County, Arizona

Did you know there were 3518 deaths from chronic lower respiratory disease in Arizona in 2021?

15% of you in Santa Cruz County are smokers.

5.7% of you in Santa Cruz County have COPD.

9.7% of you in Santa Cruz County have asthma.

32.2% of you in Santa Cruz County are sleeping less than 7 hours per night.

Health Facts That Matter: The health data mentioned above have a direct impact on your physical well-being and play a crucial role in determining your overall health outcomes.

The Health Standard Newswire.