Archive for category Marijuana Use and Abuse
Manufacturers of addiction-prone illegal substances keep coming up with ingenious and creative ways to lure teenagers into abuse. In popular media, drugs are also considered “cool” and are effective ways to make a person famous.
This information was shared by Lynn Riemer, who works as president of ACT on Drugs, in front of students of Durango High School. “Things are changing so fast in the illegal drug industry, it’s hard to keep up,” Riemer shared via a news release.
She understands that the old approach of lecturing teenagers to stay away from drugs might not work in the current generation. “I’m not here representing the ‘Just Say No’ program because it doesn’t work… I’m not here to judge you or tell you how to live your life. I’m just going to stand here and give you factual information,” Riemer expressed. Besides, “there’s lots of conflicting information out there, you have to look for reputable scientific studies,” she added.
Previous studies have confirmed the adverse effect of abusing marijuana and illicit substances on teenage brains, and Riemer shared this information with the students. “Teen brains are more likely to become addicted, and because drugs make you feel good, unbelievably good, better than anything natural, they make it so your brain can’t uptake serotonin and dopamine and can’t naturally feel happiness any more.”
In a separate discussion with parents and members of the community, Riemer emphasized the importance of being aware and alert in terms of drug abuse by their kids. “Pay attention to what you see, pay attention to what you smell, pay attention to what you hear… And please don’t think drug dealers still look like a homeless guy under a bridge. They look like everyone in this room.”
An existing medication for seizures and migraine has been discovered by a team of researchers to have beneficial effects on curbing teen marijuana use.
This was reported via a news release, which said that the drug topiramate — together with counseling — can significantly reduce the likelihood of a teenager to engage in marijuana smoking, better than purely psychological counseling. “The positive news is it did seem to have some effect and that effect seemed to really be focused on helping people reduce how much they smoke when they smoke,” said study lead author Robert Miranda Jr., who works at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Rhode Island.
The researchers investigated the potential effect of the drug — marketed as the epilepsy drug Topamax — on teenagers who undergo motivational enhancement therapy (MET). This kind of counseling is widely accepted as a drug abuse treatment procedure, but the research team claims that its impact isn’t too significant.
The study involved the participation of 66 young individuals aged 15 to 24 years old who admitted to smoking cannabis not less than twice a week. These volunteers agreed to undergo psychological counseling to help them reduce the use of marijuana. Forty of them received topiramate in gradually increasing dosages in a five-week span.
Results showed that although the frequency of cannabis smoking wasn’t significantly reduced, the positive outcome was observed in the amount of marijuana used.
Despite the seemingly good news, participants reported that they experienced excruciating side effects because of the drug. Some of them experienced depression, anxiety, loss of weight, and dexterity issues. “It’s promising in the sense that it suggests that medications can help, but it asks questions about for whom it might be most effective because many people can’t tolerate the medication,” Miranda added.
In perhaps a surprise to no one, a recent study published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors revealed that college students who use marijuana are more likely to skip classes, leading to poor grades and delayed graduation.
A team of researchers led by Amelia Arria of the University of Maryland School of Public Health monitored more than 1,100 students in college over a period of 8 years starting from the freshman year of each study participant.
Based on the results of the study, 37 percent of the freshmen admitted to smoking marijuana at least once in the past month. The students’ average use of pot is six days a month.
Furthermore, those who smoked pot had a higher likelihood of skipping classes. The latter translated to lower grades and an extended time before graduating from college. “We think they may be less engaged in college life, and may not be taking advantage of all the opportunities it presents,” Arria said in a news item.
However, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano refused to believe that marijuana causes poor scholastic performance. “Correlation is not causation, and it would not appear that there is anything unique to cannabis that would cause those who experiment with it to skip classes,” he said.
Arria expressed the importance of proper information to students, and especially to parents. “Parents need to know that their investment in college could be compromised by marijuana use,” she added.
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.