Posts Tagged teen pot smoking

Survey Reveals Extent of Teen Substance Abuse

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.

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Heavy Marijuana Use Hits Teens

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.

marijuanaAccording 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.

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Teen Marijuana Use Could Lead to Brain Problems

In a research done by scientists at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, adults who started smoking pot before they were fifteen years old exhibited serious brain problems. Their attention span, impulse control, and their ability to plan and execute tasks have been affected with the early onset of pot addiction in their lives.

teen marijuana abuseThose who take marijuana later on in life were less vulnerable to such irreparable damages to the brain.

In a feature on CBS News, Dr. Maria Alice Fontes shares “We found that early-onset, but not late-onset, chronic cannabis users had deficits in their cognitive functioning. Adolescence is a period in which the brain appears to be particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of cannabis. The brain before the age of 15 is still developing and maturing, so exposure to cannabis during this period may be more harmful.”

What researchers in Brazil found out was also supported by Dr. Karen Bolla from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She co-authored the study and confirms that brain development is a continuing process until the early twenties. The substances found in marijuana alter some of the brain’s chemical and structural balances resulting to cognitive problems.

The findings of the research can be very troubling for Americans. In 2009 alone, statistics showed that 7% of 8th graders and 16% of 10th graders already had pot exposure according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This could translate to adults having uncoordinated brain skills in the future.

The same message is once again flashed right in front of teens who still experiment with marijuana. At their age, brain development is critical, and putting in some dangerous substances in one’s system could mean complications later on in life.

Details of the research can be found in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Kids About Drugs

In a previous post, we shared with you the results of the Monitoring the Future survey, where it was revealed that there was an increase in the rates of pot smoking among teens.

parent teen talkA feature on U.S. Health News suggested that the best way to address this increase is to keep kids from experimenting with marijuana, and one of the steps that parents need to take in order to achieve that is by talking to them. Some experts share inputs regarding how this should be done, because talking to kids about drugs is a delicate task that, when done incorrectly, can achieve an opposite – and disastrous – effect.

Janet F. Williams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on substance abuse, suggests treating a discussion about drugs to a young child in the same way that one would treat a safety issue, such as looking both ways before crossing the street. One can start about the dangers of smoking, and then move on to drugs such as marijuana, which can also bring harm to the body.

It is also suggested that parents take advantage of “teachable moments,” such as talking about a news story regarding a drug-bust and use that as a topic of conversation. It is also important to do research, as it is helpful to support talking about marijuana being addictive with fact-based research.

Things that parents should never do when talking to kids about drugs include lying, especially about their own experience with drugs. It is also not advisable to think that one conversation is enough.

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Pot Smoking Among Teens on the Rise

A report on the Los Angeles Times revealed that after almost a decade of decline, the rates of pot smoking among teens is now on a rise, according to the results of a recent government survey.

The results of the annual “Monitoring the Future” survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse was released on Tuesday, and for the first time since 1981, there were more high school seniors who said that they had used marijuana in the last 30 days as opposed to those who had smoked cigarettes.

teen marijuanaThe recent statistics represented good news for those who are working hard to stop cigarette smoking among teenagers – but did not make federal officials that track illegal drug use too happy.

Gil Kerlikowske, drug czar for the Obama administration, placed the blame on state medical marijuana measures – such as California’s Proposition 19 – for leading youngsters to believe that pot is not that dangerous.

Kerlikowske declared during a news conference in Washington that it was “absolutely incorrect” to call marijuana “smoked medicine,” and that young people have derived the wrong message from the ongoing debate regarding medical marijuana.

The survey yielded further that 6.1 percent of 12th graders admitted to using marijuana daily, the highest since the early 80s. The number of 8th- and 10th- graders who admitted to smoking pot daily also increased to 1 and 3 percent, respectively.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that the increase in pot smoking is “troubling” because frequent pot use is more damaging to learning and memory than occasional use, especially in teens.

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