Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. In 2009, 28.5 million Americans aged 12 and up reported using this substance. Pot’s availability and low cost make it easily accessed by adolescents. The media has given this drug an almost acceptance since the debate regarding the use of cannabis for cancer treatment began. Pop Icons have admitted using the substance, while movie and TV characters have been portrayed as pot users. This media glorification has portrayed pot as socially acceptable and benign.
Why do adolescents use marijuana?
The list of reasons include curiosity, peer pressure, social acceptance, problem avoidance and treating undiagnosed conditions like depression, ADHD and anxiety just to name a few.
Cigarette smoking is illegal under 18 years of age and it is a precursor to marijuana use. Breaking the law is serious, not only does it have legal implications but many a college scholarship has been revoked due to pot. Alcohol consumption is also associated with marijuana use. In short, illegal substances are trouble for adolescents. Prevention is always the best answer regarding substance abuse. Parents need to speak openly and honestly to their children. Make no mistake, marijuana is a dangerous drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cannabis is associated with the following:
- Addiction- 9 percent of all pot users are addicted to it. For children who started to smoke pot in their teens, the addiction rate is 16%. Daily weed users have reported addiction rates ranging from 20 - 25 percent.
- Marijuana alters judgment. It changes alertness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. It is the most commonly identified drug in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
- School failure, poor grades and STD’s are associated with the use of marijuana.
- Trying pot makes you more at risk for other drugs. The earlier a teen starts using drugs, the more changes will occur in the brain making children more vulnerable to pot addiction and other illegal drugs.
- Marijuana use increases if parents take drugs. Children learn from example. Parents must realize that the marijuana of the 1980’s was about 4 percent pure. The marijuana of today is typically about 10 percent grade making it more potent and more addictive. Marijuana producers are not regulated. Their intent is to yield large quantities of marijuana crops using any means possible. This means using banned pesticides. Therefore, an adolescent who lights up, may inhale more than he bargained for.
If you suspect your child is using marijuana, these are a list of symptoms to look for according to NIDA:
1. Children seem dizzy, uncoordinated, silly or giggly for no apparent
2. They have red, bloodshot eyes.
3. The teen may have a hard time remembering things that JUST
4. You find drug paraphernalia such as pipes and rolling papers in their
dirty laundry or bedroom.
5. You smell odors in clothing or in their bedroom.
6. They use eye drops to clear bloodshot eyes.
7. Teens wear clothing or jewelry promoting drug use.
8. Unexplained use or loss of money.
9. Carelessness regarding grooming.
10. Deteriorating relationships with family.
11. Negative changes in academic performance.
12. An increase in truancy.
13. Loss of interest in sports or favorite activities.
Treatment for marijuana use is behavioral in nature. There is no FDA approved medication that exists to deter marijuana addiction.
Behavioral strategies include:
1. Motivational enhancement
2. Teaching strategies to kids to avoid drug use and triggers leading to usage
3. Effective ways to manage stress
4. Treatment for underlying psychological conditions like depression.
Here are some websites to help understand drug abuse and to prevent it:
This article contains some excellent content for the discussion of marijuana use. If you’re a parent and don’t know how to approach this topic with your child, reading this article can be a great start.