Teen Marijuana Use

Teen Marijuana Use is quite common because teens don't think it's as dangerous as other drugs. This article discusses what the effects of teen marijuana use are, the signs of teen marijuana use, and drug treatment for teenagers using marijuana

The most commonly used illicit drug is marijuana. This is a very popular drug because of the persistent idea that marijuana is not as dangerous as other drugs. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), 14.8 million Americans, aged 12 and up, use marijuana every month. About two million new users begin every year. And teenagers use marijuana quite a bit as well.

Teen marijuana use

According to the ONDCP, right around 20 percent of 12th graders report using marijuana in the last month. For 10th graders, that number is right around 15 percent, and for 8th graders the number is smaller - only about five percent of 13 year olds have used marijuana in the last month. The average age for first time marijuana use is right around 16 years of age. This is younger than many other drugs of abuse.

There has been an overall decline in the use of marijuana since 2000, and that is encouraging. However, also in decline is the number of students who believe that using marijuana at some point in the past year is a risk. Teen marijuana use, if it is seen as occasional, is not something that very many students think is a risk.

Effects of teen marijuana use

Drugs have very real effects on the body and mind. Even a drug that is considered as “harmless” as marijuana has effects on teenagers who use it. Some of the effects that marijuana can have include:

  • Increased tendency toward depression.
  • Lung and other respiratory problems.
  • Damage to brain cells.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Reduced coordination.
  • Addiction.
  • Possibility of schizophrenia.
  • Increased risk of heart attack.
  • Higher blood pressure and heart rate.

It is also important to note that teen marijuana use can also affect how well a teenager performs in a variety of settings. Schoolwork, jobs, extracurricular activities, sports and social interactions can all be affected by marijuana use. This is because marijuana has a tendency to reduce motivation and increase apathy. Many students begin to be late to school or work, and to stop trying to do well in their endeavors.

Signs of teen marijuana use

It is important to be on the look out for teen marijuana use. Because the health effects, as well as career effects, can last well beyond the teen years, it is important to get help for someone who is using marijuana. Be watchful for signs that your teenager might be using marijuana:

  • Smell of smoke.
  • Red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Loses interest in activities he or she used to enjoy.
  • Moody.
  • Irritable.
  • Shows signs of depression.
  • Presence of paraphernalia, such as small papers used for rolling, bongs and even marijuana plants.
  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between normal teen behavior and when teenagers are on drugs. However, the combined presence of a few of the above warning signs most likely indicate a problem.

Treating teen marijuana use

If your teenager is abusing marijuana, it is important to get help for him or her. While many teens with marijuana problems do not go to treatment facilities, a fair amount do. About 16 percent of admissions to treatment facilities in the U.S. are due to marijuana use. Most of these are male, white and aged 15-19.

Most treatment for teen marijuana use, however, takes place on the local level. There are many programs designed to help teens overcome drug abuse. The most effective treatments combine behavioral techniques with cognitive therapy. There are also medications that can help teenagers get through withdrawal.

The best treatment for teen marijuana abuse, though, is prevention. If you can be involved in your teenager’s life, and encourage him or her to live healthy, there is a better chance that he or she will avoid marijuana and other drugs. This is very important, since most people who move on to harder drugs often start with marijuana.

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