Posts Tagged teen marijuana abuse
Marijuana or cannabis is still the leading illicit drug abused by teenagers in the United States. In 2014, the Substance Abuse for Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that an estimated 22.2 million Americans ages 12 or older were current users of marijuana. Of this number, 7.4% represented adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.
The results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, a statistical study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed more detailed information. It showed that over the past month, marijuana use among 8th graders was at 6.5%, among 10th graders at 16.6%, and among 12th graders at 21.2%.
Both reports concluded that the trends show that marijuana use among teenage Americans remains stable. While recreational marijuana is federally illegal and banned in most states, its availability is widespread and it continues to be the primary drug for most adolescents.
Effects on Adolescents
In the recent years, a number of research studies have shown that early use of marijuana can lead to several issues that affect the user’s physical, mental, and psychological health in adult years. It is also associated with behavioral and social concerns. Here are some of the effects of marijuana use on teenagers:
Changes in the brain
Marijuana contains over a 400 hundred compounds that include at least 65 cannabinoids. The main active cannabinoid responsible for the drug’s psychoactive effects which cause an elevated euphoria or “high” that is sought by abusers is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When THC enters the brain, it activates certain receptors that are critical for normal brain function and healthy development. High levels of THC greatly affect those receptors that control pleasure, mood, sensory and time perception, coordination, communication, learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.
Several studies conducted among adolescent users of marijuana have found that the drug causes structural brain abnormalities and impairs some vital mental functions. THC has been shown to affect the shape, density, and volume of the brain. Heavy users are likely to damage the white matter and gray matter which are associated with cognition, communication, and memory. These effects have been found to be more pronounced in users who start smoking the substance before the age of 16 or between the ages of 16 and 18.
In addition, the brain alterations caused by early exposure and use of the drug inhibit brain development which leads to lower IQ levels and learning deficiencies among teens.
Mental and psychiatric health
The use of marijuana in the adolescent years increases the chances of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders in adulthood. These psychiatric disorders are attributed to the drug’s psychoactive properties which are likely to bear long-term detrimental effects.
A study conducted in Sweden in 2002 established findings that those who smoke marijuana at the age of 18 increase their chances of developing schizophrenia sixfold. Subsequent investigations further concluded that those with pre-existing genetic conditions for psychosis such as schizophrenia may acquire the illness as a result of smoking marijuana.
Frequent or heavy use of the drug during the adolescence years has also been linked to depression and anxiety disorders during adulthood. While the substance may temporarily relieve depression, habitual use can put users at high risk of manifesting symptoms of both depression and anxiety in later years.
Marijuana use in teenage years can also lead to suicidal tendencies and behavioral disorders including aggression and violence in young adulthood. Statistics show that those who begin using marijuana before the age of 17 are three times more likely to attempt suicide.
The effects of the active ingredients in marijuana that affect mental processes begin soon after ingestion and can last for several days to weeks. As a result, adolescents who use the drug on a regular basis perform at lower intellectual levels due to the impairment of their learning and cognitive abilities.
Several studies have found that marijuana use is correlated with reduced chances of finishing high school or earning a college degree. Users are more likely to underperform in school compared to their non-smoking peers. For instance, the Healthy Youth Survey conducted in Washington State in 2012 revealed that high school students who were habitual users of marijuana got lower grades compared to those who did not engage in drug use.
Teenage marijuana use is also associated with socioeconomic issues in adult years. These include poor educational attainment, low income, unemployment, welfare dependence, problematic interpersonal relationships, disrupted family lives, criminal behavior, and life dissatisfaction.
Smoking marijuana can adversely affect the user’s health the same way that smoking tobacco does. It can cause respiratory illnesses and infections such as chronic cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, and even lung cancer. Because the drug contains more harmful compounds than tobacco products, habitual marijuana use can produce more dangerous health consequences than tobacco use.
Within a few minutes from smoking marijuana, a person experiences increased heart rate by about 20 to 50 beats. This increases the risk for incurring cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmia, hypertension, and similar conditions.
Studies have shown that marijuana use is linked to testicular cancer among men. One investigation conducted among men in the Seattle area showed that marijuana users are at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer compared to non-users. It further concluded that those initiated to marijuana use at an age younger than 18, face a higher probability of incurring the disease.
Addiction and withdrawal
The compounds of cannabis are highly addictive and users are most likely to develop a tolerance for and dependence on the substance. It has been reported that about 17 percent of those who begin using marijuana during their adolescent years become addicted to the drug.
Addiction can cause the users to experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they attempt to cease using the drug or abruptly lower the dose of the substance ingested. Such symptoms include increased cravings, mood changes, decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, irritability, and anxiety. A user will begin to experience these symptoms within the first 24 hours following cessation. The same can last up to three days.
The severity of the marijuana withdrawal symptoms varies according to the duration or gravity of the drug dependence. In most cases, quitting voluntarily can be very difficult as when pharmacological treatment is necessary to alleviate and manage the withdrawal symptoms brought about by the physiological dependence on the substance. Thus, it is strongly advised that professional help is sought for the treatment of marijuana abuse.
Gateway to other drugs
Marijuana addiction is also linked to abuse of other substances including tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. It has been observed that those who engage in marijuana use in their teenage years are likely to progress to more severe forms of substance abuse in later years. This is known as the “gateway phenomenon.”
It has also been observed that chronic users usually use the drug in addition to alcohol or tobacco. This practice tremendously increases their risks for developing health complications.
Confronting teen marijuana abuse can be devastating for a parent. The problem disrupts family life and it promotes fear for the welfare and safety of both the child and the home. But marijuana use should not be dismissed as a passing phase or fad in your teenager’s life. The perils caused by substance abuse could be averted by timely intervention. Thus, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.
If you have observed signs of marijuana abuse include changes in mood, poor academic performance, decreased appetite, emotional disturbances, and other signs indicative of drug abuse, then sit down with your child and discuss the issues. Afterward, make sure to have your teenager immediately evaluated by a physician.
Certain diagnostic tests such as urine testing are performed to determine recent marijuana use. A urine test result will show whether or not there has been drug use in the last two to four days. Other tests including saliva, sweat, and hair can also be performed.
It is crucial that these interventions are done promptly in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Should your child test positive for drug use, consult the appropriate health specialists and enroll him a treatment program.
Both outpatient and inpatient programs are available for the treatment of marijuana addiction. These programs implement various approaches to help the patient cope with withdrawal symptoms and develop strategies to avoid a relapse.
Some of the behavioral therapies that have been found to be effective include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and family counseling sessions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy intends to teach patients methods to identify problematic behaviors and to develop techniques for handling such issues to help them prevent a recurrence of drug addiction.
Contingency management is a treatment approach that aims to promote a “reward system” by providing patients with incentives for each time they test negative for drugs. These are in the form of vouchers which may be exchanged for goods or services. This method encourages users to intentionally abstain from marijuana use.
As the name implies, the goal of motivational enhancement therapy is to assist patients to develop internal motivation to turn away from drugs and to stay on the path towards recovery.
Family therapies such as multidimensional therapy and family support therapy are designed to help establish a support base for the adolescent. The approach emphasizes the importance of discouraging marijuana use.
Some studies have shown that teens whose parents attend some form of family counseling and support sessions are more likely to reduce and eliminate drug dependence compared to those whose families do not undergo similar therapies.
There is yet no pharmacologic preparation that has been approved to effectively treat marijuana use disorder. However, several medications are available to manage and relieve withdrawal symptoms. These include antidepressants such as Nefazodone and Fluoxetine.
However, several research studies are being undertaken to find more efficient medications. The majority of the clinical trials that have been conducted focus on finding remedies to address the sleep disorders associated with marijuana withdrawal. Among the medications that have shown some potential include Zolpidem, Buspirone, and Gabapentin.
Other studies are geared towards finding nutritional supplements that would aid the inhibition of cannabinoids in the body to successfully reduce and eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
In conclusion, marijuana use puts adolescents and children at a high risk for developing several long-term problems. Teens often underestimate the potential harm to which they expose themselves by initiating the use of the substance. The addictive quality of marijuana that is currently available has been found to be three to five times stronger those in the 60s. Thus, using it a few times even for experimental purposes can pave the way towards dependence and abuse.
The importance of parental guidance and monitoring cannot be underscored. The dangers of marijuana use should be openly discussed in the home and the kids should be strongly advised against its use. When parents state their firm disapproval of any recreational drug or substance use, adolescents are less likely to engage in the same.
Shaping the future of American teenagers is a responsibility that should be first undertaken in the home. Parents are given both the privilege and the obligation to ensure these teenagers evade the path that leads to drug abuse and its dismal effects. It is a crucial role that cannot be taken for granted.
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.
If you are not yet startled by marijuana abuse by kids, this bit of news might shake your mindset and apathy.
Just a few weeks after research by New York University revealed the effect of alcohol and marijuana on high school seniors, a recent study showed that teenagers have a 60 percent likelihood to drop out of school when they use marijuana on a daily basis. According to the University of South Wales National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia, the results of their study could be used as a framework to reconsider legalizing marijuana.
The study based its findings on three earlier researches covering about 3,700 individuals, and looked into the behaviors and academic achievements of the respondents in cross reference to their drug use until they reached 30 years of age.
Study lead author Dr. Edmund Silins emphasized the importance of their study to government decisions in marijuana legalization measures. “The findings are timely given movement in some states in the US and Latin America to decriminalise marijuana, and there is also a movement here in Australia to decriminalise and legalise the drug for medicinal use,” said Dr. Silins in a news release. “Because our study has shown the potential harms of adolescent use, particularly heavy use, policy makers must be aware of this and reform efforts should be carefully considered to protect against this.”
Aside from the scholastic effect of marijuana on teens, the illicit drug was also linked to higher tendency to commit suicide and try other illegal substances.
A recent survey made at Wood County is showing the extent of substance abuse among kids, specifically from the fifth to the twelfth grades. Back in February, students from the Wood County public schools district participated in the study and what they revealed should be a wake-up call for all concerned authorities.
Results of the survey confirmed that there are about 15.2% of twelfth graders who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days prior to the survey. What was surprising and alarming was the fact that more kids are smoking pot than cigarettes, with 19.9% of the participants admitting to marijuana use. Just last year, 15.6% of seniors from schools in the district said they had used weed more than ten times.
Project director for the Safe Schools Healthy Student Initiative and the Wood County Educational Service Center, Kyle Clark, said that marijuana use among teens is increasing in other parts of the country as well. Clark added that the legalization of marijuana has sent confusing messages to kids which might have triggered for statistics to rise.
As the debate on medical marijuana continues, students could get the wrong idea that the substance is safe. Clark calls for school authorities and anti-substance abuse groups to focus on the prevention methods to discourage kids from using marijuana.
Results also revealed that there is a continuing drop on the use of cigarettes among 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Even alcohol use dropped, giving Wood County its lowest rate ever since the annual survey started in 2004.
“Well over 60 percent of our kids have not taken a drink; have not smoked a cigarette ever. And those are good statistics to have.”
Also included in the report was the issue of bullying with almost 33% of Wood County students falling victims to these kinds of situations, which could increase their risks for substance abuse.
There’s another reason for parents to be alarmed with regards to teen marijuana use. Aside from the increasing number of kids hooked on pot, “heavy” marijuana use is also on the rise.
According to the report from the 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study or PATS, adolescents who heavily take marijuana has reached 80% in the last few years after a steady decline within 10 years from 1998 to 2008.
Most of the increase in marijuana use was recorded among the boys and some minorities. On the average, about 10% of teenagers all over the country admit to smoking weed at least 20 times in the last month. This equates to more or less 1.5 million kids in America that light up marijuana.
Steve Pasierb, president of the Drugfree.org, explained that marijuana use is generally the starting point for kids that get into more dangerous substance abuse situations. “Ninety percent of all adult addicts started drug use in their teen years,” he said.
Thus the role of parents in the prevention of substance abuse is once again emphasized. Experts say that kids who learn about the dangers of substance abuse at home decrease their chances of drug use by as much as 50%.
Pasierb also reminded parents that despite the many who say marijuana use is a safer alternative to illicit drug use, there really isn’t any safe ground as far as substance abuse is concerned.
The existence of medical dispensaries may have somehow contributed to the increase in marijuana use among teens especially in California. This is why medical marijuana facilities are advised to dispense marijuana if, and only if, there is a valid medical condition that can only be addressed with the use of pot.
In California, patients are required to get their prescriptions for medical marijuana from legitimate doctors who will evaluate their condition.
While the use of cocaine and methamphetamine among teens may have stabilized in the last few years, pot use is on the rise. In a new study released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, one in every ten kids is smoking marijuana at least 20 times within a month. Students between the 9th and 12th grades are also experimenting with prescription drugs.
The situation elevated due to the fact that most parents think that weed is just weed, no cause for alarm. Yet Partnership President Steve Pasierb said that parents should not take the issue of marijuana for granted. “Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them. Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
The report showed that marijuana use has increased from only 19% in 2008 to about 27% in 2011. Teens who smoked pot at least 20 times in a month also climbed from 5% in 2008 to last year’s 9%. That’s about 1.5 million teens who regularly light up marijuana.
Previous researches made also had parallel results, like that of a recent survey made by a team from the University of Michigan. The initiative was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that claimed marijuana use is again on the rise after a decline in the last decade.
Results of the study have linked the use of pot and other drugs. It was suggested that teens who regularly use marijuana were also twice more likely to take cocaine or ecstasy.
The study also tackled the issue of pain medications abuse, putting Vicodin and Oxycontin as the drug of choice among teens. It was also noted that ecstasy or cocaine use is highest among Hispanic teens (almost 50%). African American teens followed suit with almost 42% hooked on prescription medications while that of Caucasian teens reached 39%.