Posts Tagged teen marijuana use
Many parents are concerned about how legalizing the use and sale of marijuana may affect their children. Medical marijuana has been made legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia while recreational marijuana has been allowed for people who are at least 21 years old in Colorado and Washington.
Parents worry that their teenagers may have easier access to marijuana, which may increase the likelihood of today’s teens using them. This is a valid cause of concern, since teens are found to be using drugs at younger ages, when their bodies and brains are still on critical developmental stages.
A study that looked into 20 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey gives parents a reason to let out a small sigh of relief.
Researchers compared the data in states that have legalized medical marijuana and data in neighboring states that haven’t. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that marijuana legalization for medical purposes does not result in greater use of marijuana by teens. “There were no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing,” writes lead author Dr. Esther Choo.
It still is a popular illicit drug among U.S. kids, but its use has remained steady before and after a state legalized marijuana. The estimates are based on self-reports given by over 11 million students through anonymous surveys.
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:
1. 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.”
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.
Teenagers should be aware of the possible psychological effects of using marijuana. Recent studies have shown that marijuana users, especially teens, could develop schizophrenia or psychosis with continued use of the drug.
In a study conducted with nearly 2,000 teenager participants, those who smoked marijuana at least five times were twice as likely to develop psychosis in the next ten years or when they become young adults compared to those who did not use weed at all.
Psychosis is the condition when a person develops a pattern of unusual mental activities, such as believing in and talking to inanimate objects. Schizophrenia is a form of psychotic disorder which leads to loss of emotional expression and proper brain functions.
The risks become higher for teens who have parents or siblings who are already affected with schizophrenia or other psychotic problems. A normal teen with a family history of the psychotic disorder has a one out of ten chance of developing the condition as well. Teens who take marijuana dramatically double this rate.
To better illustrate the impact of pot on teens unaffected by psychosis or other mental disorders, chances of developing the mental abnormality is at 7 to 1,000. Smoking pot on a regular basis increases the risks making it 14 to 1,000.
In a study published in the Harvard Health Publication, studies on the effects of marijuana clearly has a long way to go. For instance, researchers may be able to account the active ingredient in pot, THC, as a factor which initiates chemical reactions in a user’s brain allowing the drug to have psychological and physical effects. Yet there isn’t a crystal clear explanation on how marijuana could lead a teen to be psychotic or schizophrenic later on in life.
In a latest survey conducted among teens in the United States, it has been noted that while tobacco and alcohol use declined among the youth, marijuana use increased.
Dr. Nora Volkow, who heads the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that the decline in tobacco use among teens is welcome news. Yet the rate of its decline goes slower and slower over the years, and this could still be a concern for everybody. “This highlights the urgency of maintaining strong prevention efforts against teen smoking and of targeting other tobacco products,” Volkow said.
Survey results also confirmed that marijuana use among high school students has reached 25% in the past year compared to about 21% in 2007. The most troubling reality uncovered by the survey is the fact that daily marijuana use among senior high school students is at 7%. This percentage is by far the highest since 1981.
The rise in marijuana use could be due to the fact that mortality rates linked to marijuana use is by far much lower than reported tobacco fatalities. Smoking marijuana is perceived as much safer than cigarettes therefore more individuals are getting into the habit of pot smoking instead of cigarettes. What teens might be disregarding is that daily marijuana use leads to addiction which in turn could mean more serious conditions.
Alcohol use among teens is also on the decline. Reports regarding fatal cases on driving under the influence, higher risks for addiction and overdose, and violent reactions related to alcohol use have discouraged teens from alcohol abuse.
The 21st Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use did not reveal encouraging statistics regarding marijuana use among teens in Indiana. While the number of students who consumed alcohol went down, those who admitted to using marijuana and smokeless tobacco went up, based on the survey results.
The study was conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC) at IU-Bloomington. The results, which were released on Wednesday, indicated an increase in reported marijuana use among 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
The survey was conducted among 168,801 students in both public and private schools in Indiana.
Courtney Stewart, a research associate at IPRC and coordinator of research and translation, shared: “I think what we have focused in on this year and last year is an increase in marijuana use… The good news is, we’re seeing an overall decrease in alcohol use.” Stewart attributed the decline to statewide programs that zeroed in on underage drinking: “I think the prevention programs in Indiana that are in place, they have been successful as far as alcohol use.”
The same thing could not be said, however, for marijuana use. Stewart gave the opinion that the upward trend and seeming popularity of marijuana may have stemmed from the attention being placed by the media on the legalization of medical pot: “It’s the perception of harm and risk… With medical marijuana, a lot of youth might think, ‘Hey, its OK, doctors are prescribing it. It’s OK to use it.’”