Marijuana Use and Abuse

Psychiatric Patients Have Higher Rates Of Alcoholism, Smoking And Drug Use

A recent study has linked psychological disorders to a higher risk of engaging in vices.

brains scansResearchers from the University of Southern California and St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine jointly looked into the susceptibility of people diagnosed with psychotic disorders to a number of addictive activities such as drinking, smoking, and use of drugs.

Study co-author Dr. Sarah M. Hartz of Washington University said that contrary to popular belief, people suffering from severe mental disorders do not die because of suicide or drug overdose. “They die from heart disease and cancer, problems caused by chronic alcohol and tobacco use,” said Dr. Hartz in a news interview.

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, monitored more than 9,000 patients with psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The cases were then compared with people without diagnosed brain disorders, and performed an assessment as to the degree of use of alcohol, drugs and nicotine.

Results showed the following findings:

  • Thirty percent of people with mental disorders were engaging in binge drinking, as compared to only 8 percent for normal-minded patients.
  • In terms of smoking, 33 percent of the people without psychotic issues were identified as smokers. In stark contrast, the figure for mental patients shot up to above 75 percent.
  • Marijuana use was also higher in psychiatric patients, registering 50% of the study population. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of the people without mental disorders used marijuana.


To top it off, Dr. Hartz added that “these patients tend to pass away much younger, with estimates ranging from 12 to 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population.”

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Colorado Quadriplegic Medical Marijuana User Loses Job For Failing Drug Test

Colorado has been marked on the world map as one of two U.S. states to pass a measure to allow personal use and possession of marijuana for adults, including growing and selling them. It may seem that the Centennial State is loose when it comes to marijuana use, but this recent news item from Bloomberg revealed that not everyone is pot-loving.

medical marijuanaSatellite TV supplier Dish Network Corp. fired one of its customer service agents, Brandon Coats, for drawing positive to a random drug test. The firing happened despite the fact that Coats lives in Colorado.

What made this bit of news more viral was that Coats is a quadriplegic who takes medical marijuana prescribed by his doctor to address muscle spasms. The fired agent figured in a car crash, resulting to his health condition. Coats himself was surprised with the company decision. “I had a doctor’s permission to do something I need to help me get on with my life.”

Despite the measure passed in Colorado, a particular case in the past involved the state court supporting a company’s rule to fire one of its employees for drug test failure based on federal law. The same ruling applied to Coats’ case, even through the appeals court.

Princeton’s National Workrights Institute president Lewis Maltby said that marijuana users should not be discriminated against. “Employers ought to reconsider their drug testing policies in states where medical marijuana is legal,” Maltby added.

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Early and Regular Users of Marijuana Likely to Lack Motivation

People become less motivated in life due to a number of reasons, one of them may have something to do with the use of marijuana.

smoking marijuanaResearchers at Imperial College London, UCL and King’s College London examined 19 marijuana users and 19 non-marijuana users with the help of PET brain imaging. All marijuana users in the study had experienced psychotic-like symptoms while smoking the drug.

Lead researcher Dr. Michael Bloomfield said they expected that dopamine level is higher in the group who used marijuana. Instead, their study revealed the opposite effect. Low production of dopamine was also observed among people who started using marijuana at a young age.

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain linked to motivation. Previous research showed that people who are experiencing psychosis have increased production of dopamine.

“It has been assumed that cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia by inducing the same effects on the dopamine system that we see in schizophrenia, but this hasn’t been studied in active cannabis users until now,” Dr. Bloomfield, from the Institute of Clinical Sciences at Imperial, said in a news release. “The results weren’t what we expected, but they tie in with previous research on addiction, which has found that substance abusers – people who are dependent on cocaine or amphetamine, for example – have altered dopamine systems.”

The researchers suggest their findings could explain why some cannabis users appear to lack motivation to work or pursue their normal interests.

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How to Know if Your Teen is Using Marijuana

Marijuana is the most widely abused drugs among teens and adults. It is often smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe or bong; sometimes ingested in the form of  marijuana-laced cookie, candy, or drinks. If you are concerned your teenager might be using marijuana, there are several ways for you to know it aside from drug testing him/her.

Here are some of the telltale signs to look for:

smoking marijuana1. Take note of your teen’s eyes. Marijuana use can immediately cause dilation of blood vessels in the eyes, thereby, making them bloodshot.

2. Observe your teen’s conversation pattern. Does s/he suddenly have difficulty conveying her/his ideas? Does s/he often lose track of her/his thoughts mid-sentence? Does s/he laugh uncontrollably or exhibit a sense of paranoia when talking? As a mind-altering drug, marijuana can cause short term memory loss, distorted perception, and trouble with thinking and problem solving.

3. Use your sense of smell. Teenagers will do everything to cover up their bad habit. Still, you can smell the distinctive odor of marijuana in your child’s clothing, car, or room. Also pay attention if your teen has suddenly started using air fresheners or scented candles more often than needed as this could indicate an attempt to mask marijuana’s smell

4. Look for drug paraphernalia in your teen’s room. This is perhaps the most intrusive way of checking whether your teen is into marijuana but it can help in saving your child from the dangers of substance abuse. Some things to look for are rolling papers, lighters, pipes, roach clips used for holding the burning end of a marijuana “joint.”

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Latest Statistics on Commonly Abused Drugs

Ever wonder how many Americans are using marijuana, heroin, and prescription drugs?

teen substance abuseThe drug prohibition policies in the United States traces its roots back in 1914, but the term “war on drugs” was popularized in 1971 upon the declaration of then-president Richard Nixon. The goal of Nixon’s anti-drug campaign was to increase the size and presence of federal drug control agencies.

More than 40 years later, however, it appears that the number of people using and misusing banned substances are increasing, not to mention the emergence of newer substances that are getting kids “high” and sending some of them to emergency rooms for treatment.

Marijuana is still considered the most commonly abuse drugs in the U.S. with roughly 100 million Americans admitting to trying the drug at least once, according to the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.

Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a report suggesting that one marijuana arrest happens every 42 seconds.

After marijuana there’s prescription drug abuse which is getting a lot of attention lately because of the increasing number of teens experimenting on them. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prescription drug misuse remains a top public health concern in the United States, with approximately 22 million people initiating nonmedical use of pain relievers since 2002. The figure was based from the combined 2010 and 2011 data indicating that rates of past year misuse among those aged 12 or older.

Among the states with the highest rates of nonmedical use of prescription drugs were Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.

Ritalin and Adderall, drugs commonly prescribed in people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), were noted as among the top drivers in the increase of teen medicine abuse.

Given the growing rates of prescription drug abuse, drug manufacturers altered the formulation of OxyContin, another commonly abused Rx medicine, to prevent drug addicts from crushing and abusing it. However, this led to addicts turning to other prescription meds, as well as heroin.

In 2008, it is estimated that there were more than 200,000 current heroin users in the United States. Between 2008 and 2009, there had been an obvious increase in lifetime heroin injection use among 10th graders.

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Middle School Students Who Date Are at Higher Risk to Use Drugs and Dropout of School

There’s a reason why many parents want their kids to enjoy their pre-teens and early teenage years without a partner, or at the very least looking for a prospect. Some parents think dating between the age of 11 and 15 could interfere with their kids’ studies. The thing is, this concern may just be downright valid.

dating in middle schoolAccording to a new study, dating in middle school could lead to higher drop out and drug use rates.

Researchers from the University of Georgia followed more than 600 students, from 6th to 12th grade, for over seven years and found that students who start dating in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school, and report twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, according to a ScienceDaily report.

“A likely explanation for the worse educational performance of early daters is that these adolescents start dating early as part of an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors,” said Pamela Orpinas, study author and professor in the College of Public Health and head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior.

Orpinas said the study suggests “dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.” She explained that the emotional complications involved in dating a classmate may be similar with that of dating a co-worker.

“When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else. It is reasonable to think this scenario could be linked to depression and divert attention from studying,” Orpinas said, citing the scenario as possible trigger for the use of commonly abused substances like alcohol and marijuana.

The results of the study were recently published in the  Journal of Research on Adolescence.

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