Many people are social drinkers. However, some individuals overuse alcohol and become alcoholics. The formal medical term for this is Alcohol Use Disorder.

Opioid abuse has been a major problem for several years. It has become the focus of multiple government programs.

There is another disorder that gets less press. It is called Cannabis Use Disorder. As the name suggests it refers to an individual that overuses marijuana.

Many of the individuals pushing to legalize marijuana would have you think that it is a completely harmless drug. They harken back to the diluted forms that were used in the 1960s and 1970s. Current day marijuana is many times more powerful than that. Thus it is no surprise that people abuse it.

There are specific diagnostic criteria for Cannabis Use Disorder. The first is that the individual has been using it for at least a year and that it is now resulting in a series of adverse symptoms.

These symptoms include using larger and larger amounts over time. A tolerance is built up so the dose needs to be increase.

They include efforts to stop using but being unable to do so. They include spending an inordinate amount of waking hours just trying to obtain the drug.

There are also cravings for it. The cravings may take the form of thoughts and images. They may take the form of dreams. They make take the form of imagining the smell of it.

Another symptom is that the user winds up having negative social interactions. Those can be with individuals at home. They can be on the job. They can result in criminal activities.

Just as with alcohol and opioids, these individuals feel that cannabis is the most important thing in life. Jobs are irrelevant. School is irrelevant. Hygiene is irrelevant. Family responsibilities are irrelevant.

They may take dangerous risks. The worst of these is driving while under its influence. They tend to ignore physical symptoms suggesting an issue.

They also experience withdrawal symptoms. As with alcohol and opioids, further use makes the withdrawal symptoms go away.

The latest concern is related to long term mental health. In 1995 about two percent of cases of schizophrenia were due to cannabis use disorder. The number grew to four precent of schizophrenic patients by 2000. In 2010 the number was eight percent of schizophrenic patients.

Many substances can be easily abused. Alcohol is the most common one. Of interest is the fact that the one good thing about Prohibition was that it cut down on alcoholism. It is likely that current laws are one of the reasons that Cannabis Use Disorder is not as prominent. As legalization efforts continue, we can expect to see more of it.

COVID update- The surge continued this week. The overall number of new cases rose from 569,000 to 775,000 nationally. Sussex County rose from 195 to 257 new cases.

As expected the virus continues to infect those who are not vaccinated. Like I said a few weeks ago, the virus will continue until we get to herd immunity. That occurs when enough people have been either vaccinated or infected. Each individual can choose whether they want the vaccine or the infection. It is as simple as that.