Archive for category Marijuana Use and Abuse
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a statement saying that 30 percent of teenagers – regardless of ethnicity — engage in smoking cigarettes or marijuana. This was based on data comparing teenage smoking figures between 1997 and 2013.
In specific substances, the rate of smoking tobacco cigarettes in teenagers decreased from 20.5 percent to a little over 7 percent. While this may sound like good news, the figures for teen marijuana use isn’t pleasant. From only 4 percent of teenagers engaged in marijuana use in 1997, it has since shot up to 10 percent by 2013. In addition, the rate of teenagers smoking both cigarettes and marijuana has increased from 51 percent to 62 percent.
CDC Office on Smoking and Health director Dr. Tim McAfee emphasized the misinformation on marijuana as one of the probable causes behind this alarming figure. “Over the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a change in public perception of marijuana… There is the idea that marijuana is not something you need to worry about,” McAfee said in a news article.
Despite the increase in marijuana use, there is still reason to celebrate, particularly in terms of curbing cigarette use by teenagers. “This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened,” said Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids VP for communications Vince Willmore.
Details of the study were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by CDC.
This may sound like good news to the younger generation of marijuana users: A recent study discovered that there is no link between teen marijuana use and the overall health of a person later in life.
The study, conducted by a research team from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, ran for more than 2 decades to monitor the health of more than 400 teenagers in relation to their use of marijuana. The respondents were divided into four groups distinguished by their level of marijuana use, as reported in a news item. Roughly 46 percent were low to none users, 22 percent were chronic marijuana users in their early years, 11 percent smoked only during their teen years, and 21 percent smoked continuously since adolescence.
Results of the study showed that the four groups did not exhibit any significant difference in physical and mental well-being when they reached their mid-30s. Other factors such as ethnicity or race also did not affect the results. Researchers were surprised with the results, considering that many previous studies point to the harmful effects of chronic use of cannabis.
However, the researchers were quick to point out some limitations that may have affected the results. First, the evaluation was conducted on men only, and so another set of investigations should be conducted on women as well. The assessment period may be too short to conclude that the effects of marijuana use are not significant. The evaluation of health conditions of the respondents were based on interviews, which could have resulted to a failure in determining any real health hazards.
The study was recently published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Here’s a bit of good and bad news: today’s teenagers use alcohol and cigarettes less, but are found to use marijuana increasingly.
This is according to a study conducted by Penn State’s The Methodology Center. Although the recent findings point to a successful campaign against tobacco, this may have caused the interest of adolescents to shift towards marijuana. “Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes… However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes,” said study co-author Stephanie Lanza in a news release.
The study looked into data from the project entitled Monitoring the Future, where close to 600,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2013 were asked to participate in a survey. The questions were targeted towards checking the students’ use of three substances: alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
Results showed a significant decrease in use of cigarettes, most notably in white adolescents. Marijuana, on the other hand, was used more as years went by, especially in black teenagers. Meanwhile, alcohol consumption by teenagers has steadily dipped over the years, with white teens drinking more than their black counterparts. A correlation was also noticed between marijuana and cigarette use, citing that those who smoked cigarettes were more likely to use marijuana than teenagers who did not use tobacco products.
Details of the study were published July 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
As more states welcome medical marijuana use, a recent study discovers that this rise in accepting cannabis for medical treatment does not lead to more teens getting high.
A group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York investigated more than 1 million records of teenagers spanning 24 years worth of data from a nationwide study to determine a potential link between legalization of medical marijuana in U.S. states and teenage marijuana use. “Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalises medical marijuana,” said study lead author Dr. Deborah Hasin via a news release. Surprisingly, states that did not legalize medical marijuana were found to have higher rates of teen marijuana use. “Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states,” Hasin added.
Dr. Kevin Hill from Massachusetts’ McLean Hospital alcohol and drug abuse division wrote a commentary accompanying the study, which was published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. “The growing body of research that includes this study suggests that medical marijuana laws do not increase adolescent use, and future decisions that states make about whether or not to enact medical marijuana laws should be at least partly guided by this evidence,” Hill said.
The hippocampus is the human brain’s storage for long-term memory, and was recently found by scientists to be one of the casualties of heavy cannabis use by teenagers.
This discovery was based on a study by researchers from the Northwestern Medicine who conducted memory tests on young adults who took marijuana for about three years starting at age 16 to 17. Results of the study showed that these individuals fared 18 percent worse in tests that assessed long-term memory, compared to those who did not engage in marijuana abuse.
Study senior author Dr. John Csernansky, who works at the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine as head of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said that marijuana use may lead people to serious repercussions not only to memory but also to relationships. “The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family,” Csernansky said in a news statement.
The study discovered that part of the reason behind the disruption of memory storage is the abnormal shape of the hippocampus in people engaging in chronic marijuana use. This was confirmed by lead study author Matthew Smith, based on not only the current study but also an earlier one. “Both our recent studies link the chronic use of marijuana during adolescence to these differences in the shape of brain regions that are critical to memory and that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it,” Smith said. Although further studies are needed to prove a direct causality of marijuana to create brain changes, Smith added that the team’s study is already proof that “marijuana may be the cause.”
Pregnancy is a highly sensitive condition for many women, but a large proportion of teenage pregnancies are jeopardized by use of alcohol and drugs.
This was reported by a recent study by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, in which Christopher Salas-Wright and a team of researchers investigated a possible link between teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. The research team discovered that 59 percent of pregnant teenagers have used drugs or alcohol for the past 12 months. It also revealed that 34 percent of pregnant adolescents aged 12 to 14 used controlled substances in the past 30 days prior to the survey. Details of the study were published in the Addictive Behaviors’ Spring 2015 edition.
The study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2012, specifically on teenage girls 12 to 17 years old. Out of the representative sample of 97,850 female adolescents, 810 of them declared that they were with child. Questions from the survey included use of illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and alcohol.
According to a news release by UT, alcohol tops the most commonly used substances by pregnant teens, pegged at 16 percent. Cannabis and other illicit substances follow suit at 14 and 5 percent, respectively.
Salas-Wright, an assistant professor at UT, said that their study was the largest research on teenage pregnancy and substance use. The team emphasized the importance of information to prevent substance use by pregnant teens. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Salas-Wright.