Epidemiology of Substance Abuse and Treatment

For the longest time in history, marijuana has been considered not only a spiritual aid but also medicinal for many cultures. The therapeutic use of cannabis started back in 2900 BC when Emperor Fu accepted and effected its use as medicine. Medicinal use of marijuana has over the years found its way into the American culture. As a result, substance abuse is increasingly becoming a major concern among adolescence in the US (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). In line with the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, this paper will propose how the US should decide on important issues associated with substance use legalization and treatment. While analyzing substance abuse services from a public health perspective, this paper will identify essential elements of law and quality improvement, delivery systems, workforce considerations, as well as financing.

Substance Abuse Services Analysis

The role of a substance abuse service is to plan, direct, develop, fund, as well as monitor the delivery of services that concern substance abuse. To certify coordinated service delivery on drug addiction is given to the right population, substance abuse should provide connection service to other concerned agencies. An effective substance abuse service should be efficient in designing, developing, and implementing the evaluation process, measurement, and data reporting standards that concern substance abuse treatment services. As argued by Levin, Hennessy & Petrila, (2010), conducting a constant review and monitor of the public substance abuse treatment. Besides, reviewing substance abuse treatment will ensure there is compliance with not only the state but also federal protocols and regulations.

To some extent, many states have strived to decriminalize marijuana use. Decriminalization is an approach employed by the US government to legalize marijuana. Criminal records, as well as prison time, have been removed for individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana for consumption. In this case, the possession of marijuana is treated as a minor offense. In the state of California hemp, a district variety of marijuana with less than 1 percent of THC, has been accepted. This species of Cannabis Sativa has been used for various industrial purposes. However, the primary focus has been on medical marijuana. The California state has legislated laws on medical marijuana. As argued by Anderson & Rees (2014), marijuana is closely associated with treating many clinical complications. These health complications include movement disorders, glaucoma, and pain relief among others. Besides, marijuana is considered an appetite stimulant and protects the human body against malignant tumors.

Approaches to Deciding on Substance Use Legalization and Treatment

It is important for the US to adopt the most comprehensive approaches when addressing critical issues associated with substance use legalization as well as treatment. To begin with, the US should create an impartial substance abuse policy that provides a comprehensive direction that will guide substance use and abuse. The importance of this approach is that it will help in avoiding the adverse effects associated with drug addiction (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). Secondly, the US should come up with impartial drug testing policies. Such testing policies should explicitly specify the frequencies as well as purposes of testing procedures. Lastly, the US should also come up with impartial substance abuse and use policies. By adopting such approaches, the US will create a stable framework upon which substance use and abuse will be determined.

Substance use has been on the increase among US adolescents in the recent past. These issues present a significant challenge to substance use legalization and treatment. In line with the broad range of challenges presented as a result of the increased substance use, the US government should utilize an effective when legalizing substance use and its treatment (Friese & Grube, 2013). The majority of states have voted for marijuana as a pharmacological agent. For instance, more than 20 states have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes between the years 1998 and 2014. As the legalization of marijuana continues to take shape, there is a need for the government to ensure that the process minimizes public harm.

In the US, many companies have access to government grants. However, to receive these grants, the US Department of Labor requires that these organizations comply with the 1998 Drug-Free Workplace Act. Because of this factor, organizations are required to certify that their substance use policies comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act (1998). Recreational consumption of Cannabis Sativa has become common among athletes. As a result, substance abuse has become a public health concern. In the same way, it is a prerequisite to athletes, most job requirements require employees to have a certain degree of mental acuity as well as physical fitness. It is a widely held belief that today’s workforce is aware of the common positive attributes of substance use. Consequences associated with the increased acceptance of substance use are that marijuana is for recreational purposes (Anderson & Rees, 2014). Lack of adequate policies that address the potential effects of marijuana use, organizations will continue to experience negative employee performance as well as increased health challenges. With respect to Anderson & Rees (2014) view, most companies take part in drug testing approaches for the pre-employment screening. These tests are carried out to ascertain that employees do not use illegal drugs. In addition, such methods are aimed at ensuring that these employees are actively taking part in the rehabilitation programs. Besides, the government requires that companies have zero tolerance for substance abuse. Without such policies, it will not be easy for states to protect citizens against challenges associated with substance use.

The implication of Substance Use Legalization

There are significant implications that come as a result of the legalization of substance use for the future of mental health and substance abuse treatment services. When marijuana becomes legally available for adolescence, it presents multiple implications. Among the greatest implications that legalizing substance use may give is that there will be increased substance use among adolescents (Anderson & Rees, 2014). The increased substance usage among teenagers comes due to the increased social acceptance, increased availability, as well as possible low prices. Besides, the legalization of marijuana will bring about new marijuana formulation, alongside other possibly higher controls. The legalization of substance use will also change the consumption patterns among the youth. The consumption patterns among the youth will come due to marijuana’s availability in the market.

Another implication associated with the legalization of marijuana is that it is unclear whether adolescents will experience higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels when compared to the previous generations. Despite the fact that previous studies act as a guide to public health and healthcare policies, it is important to understand the implications of legalizing substance use. The recommendations of these will help in answering the current questions in the legal environment.

The current assumptions of the medicinal advantages of marijuana have created an additional challenge on preventing adolescents from substance use. These challenges have been established with the contrasting message of the harmfulness of marijuana (Friese & Grube, 2013). To address the current situation, it will be significant for the current treatment and prevention approaches. To address the present safety perceptions related to marijuana, the assumption of its medicinal purpose, as well as the expanding effects as the adolescents openly promote and consume marijuana (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). There is a need for supervision for the primary physician during screening as well as counseling programs. The recent extensive justification and recognition of the use of marijuana suggest that as the current law enforcement strategies for the control of marijuana use continue to take shape, scientific, medical, and public health specialists are understanding the undesired concerns of marijuana use.

In conclusion, the increased social acceptance of substance use has resulted in the legalization of marijuana in many states. The legalization of substance use in these states will increase the challenges associated with drug addiction. The legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado states will mean that people will become more exposed to substance use (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). The increased substance use comes as the result of the increased social acceptance as well as the increased availability of these to the general public. Besides, the removal of the criminal factor will also increase the challenges associated with substance abuse. Based on the availability of inconclusive and conflicting research on the issue at hand, it is impotent for healthcare professionals and healthcare policymakers to consider the potential negative attributes associated with substance use. Highlighting the key negative attributes associated with substance abuse will potentially discourage both the recreational as the well medicinal use of marijuana. Increasing awareness of the general public will help in increasing the probability of policy compliance by the general public. To fulfill its legal mandate, the US government has the responsibility to ensure that organizational policies are a reflection of the mitigation determinations of adverse effects associated with substance use. The government should also provide funding as well as training that will facilitate compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act (1998).


Anderson, D. M., & Rees, D. I. (2014). The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: How Likely Is the Worst‐Case Scenario?. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(1), 221-232.

Friese, B., & Grube, J. W. (2013). Legalization of medical marijuana and marijuana use among youths. Drugs: education, prevention and policy, 20(1), 33-39.

Levin, B., Hennessy, K., & Petrila, J. (2010). Mental health services. New York: Oxford University Press.

MacCoun, R., & Reuter, P. (2001). Drug war heresies. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.