Are you the parent of a teen who is addicted to marijuana? They might think it is not a big deal, but here are some reasons why that perception is wrong.
Recent headlines show that many states in the United States are thinking of legalizing marijuana, or they have already done so – such as Colorado and Washington. This has led many to believe that the legalization has justified or validated the widespread use of the substance, even among teens – who happen to be among the greatest consumers of the substance.
As the parent or guardian of a teenager, should you be worried? The facts will say you have every reason to be. Contrary to the claims many users will make as well as their proponents, the drug is a gateway drug (its use encourages the use of other drugs), and it leads to addiction.
Statistics on Marijuana Use
The statistics on the drug are not the most encouraging, either. A survey, entitled the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, was conducted by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The results showed one side of the story – teens now are engaging in less risky activities than their parents did, which sounds good enough. However, the bad news is marijuana use has become more widespread than in previous generations.
While binge drinking and sexual activity has become less prevalent, the teens of today are now smoking marijuana more than ever. That should raise a red flag as well because studies show that marijuana use can affect the teenage brain negatively.
The question you should ask as a parent is this – if the teenagers today are not engaging in risky activities as much, why are they still addicted to marijuana? In addition, why do teens today think the use of marijuana is safe?
What are some risks that come with addiction?
Dependence and cravings for the drug are real possibilities, just as with any other drug. Your teen can be so focused on achieving the next high, without any regard to important things they should be focusing on in their lives.
The risk of becoming addicted depends on several factors though, which include the potency of the drug, whether it is laced with other drugs, the amount the teen 7users, the frequency of use, and if they usually take it with alcohol or other drugs (a common problem).
Marijuana is addictive
If you think that marijuana is just a way of forgetting your life’s troubles, or that there are no consequences from its consumption, think again. Just because it is now being legalized or being used in medical operations, it does not negate the fact that the substance is still addictive.
In fact, an estimate of 9 percent of people that smoke the substance every day become addicts. While that may not look like a significant number, consider that 1 in 11 people will become marijuana addicts. If your teen is using the substance, at least 1 in every 6 teens will become addicts. In addition, among daily users, the percentage increases to 25 to 50 percent.
Based on these statistics, it is better to simply stay away from the substance, instead of using it in the first place.
Another thing to keep in mind is the withdrawal symptoms of marijuana. Long time users prove the withdrawal symptoms are just as serious as any other drug – experiencing decreasing appetite, craving the drug, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and so on.
The drug affects the brain
Two very critical areas of development in teenagers is the memory and learning components of the brain that make up the hippocampus. However, these are the first areas to be affected by the substance.
How does this happen though? The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, and it di9rectly changes how the hippocampus interprets and processes information. In fact, animal studies back this up – when animals consume the drug, it affects memory and learning abilities negatively.
As a human being ages, some of the neurons in the hippocampus are lost, and this will affect the rate at which the person can learn new information. However, exposure to THC accelerates this process, while also impairing the ability to perform complicated tasks, participating in sports, and driving. This is due to THC binding to receptors within the basal ganglia, therefore interfering with motor co-ordination, reaction time, and balance.
Risks of overdoses
Marijuana is not only consumed through smoking – there is something called edible marijuana, which is more dangerous than smoking it. Eating a cookie, brownies or a gummy bear might seem harmless because they are pleasant to taste or see, but they are very easy ways to conceal the substance without you knowing it. It presents a more attractive alternative to a drug such as heroin, mostly because of the drug paraphernalia like syringes – which is enough to put off many of them.
What makes this so risky is that you have no idea the amount of marijuana that is contained within what you are eating, since measurements are never standard. Even manufacturers cannot guarantee you the distribution of the drug in an edible. That means that one cookie can end up containing greater levels of THC than a smoking session.
However, the other question is where the edible products come from. Homemade products are a common source of the drug, and this is further aided by the fact that marijuana for recreational use is legal in eight states. The only thing is, you need to be at least 21 years of age to purchase the edibles, but teens will always find a way around the issue – just as they do with other drugs.
The increasing marijuana legalization has certainly played a role in the changing attitudes towards the drug, as the teens and general users will think it is not so bad, as long as they are seeing the general use is increasing. Since the use of the drug is increasing everywhere, they perceive it as less harmful than most.
The use of marijuana among teenagers has risen over the years, and it does not bode well for all people involves, including parents. It is therefore vital that you have a sit-down with your teen and explain to them that using marijuana is just as harmful as any other drug.
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