A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teens now smoke more marijuana than tobacco cigarettes. This past year, the use of marijuana was distinctly higher than tobacco than ever seen before. Over the years, underage smoking has fluctuated and even declined slightly, but more teenagers smoking marijuana indicates this drug continues to be on the rise.
Why is marijuana so popular? American youth and adults use more marijuana than any other illegal substance. What are the adverse effects, and what other risky behaviors are tied to marijuana?
The most common misconception that head lead to more and more teenagers smoking marijuana is that it’s “safe” and “natural.” Yes, it is a plant; similarly, heroin is derived from poppy plants and cocaine from the coca plant—these are drugs that will never be considered safe or natural, yet they also are derived from a plant. Marijuana actually contains over 400 chemicals in its substance, including the psychoactive ingredient Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Marijuana use is often referred to as a gateway drug and has been linked to criminal behavior—in some parts of the country, over 80% of arrested males tested positive for marijuana. Consistent abuse of the drug is seen as early as 12 years old, and continues to be acceptable to some adults in the later years of their life. Once smoked, marijuana stores in the organs and fatty tissues of the body, and can stay there for months.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused substance in the United States, and although it is thought of as a mild and harness drug, it also carries with it adverse effects like any other drug. THC can leave lasting effects on long- and short-term memory as well as mental learning capacity. Further, marijuana can produce anxiety attacks, trouble with breathing, paranoia, depression, loss of drive and upper respiratory problems.
The most powerful adverse effect of marijuana is dependency. A common misconception about marijuana is that you cannot become addicted to it. Factually, nothing could be further from the truth. There are thousands of cases of marijuana addiction in the United States, and these addictions lead to the abuse of other drugs.
Activists of marijuana legalization are often marijuana addicts themselves, although they may not realize it. Over time, the body becomes so dependent on marijuana that physically and mentally, the user cannot function without it. Withdrawal symptoms set in—nausea, headaches, depression, anxiety, inability to sleep, cravings and irritability. Users feel that the way to cure these symptoms is to take another hit of marijuana.
Approximately 1 in 6 teens who begin marijuana use will become addicted. Other studies of long-term drug use shows that there is a very small percentage of high school students who start using other drugs without first having experiences with marijuana. It is a gateway drug, since dependency eventually plateaus out and requires a new and more powerful drug to produce a high. With more teenagers smoking marijuana, this projects a new generation of drug users in the coming years.
Getting Help Through Rehabilitation
Marijuana is also the number one drug sending teens to rehabilitation. More teenagers smoking marijuana obviously means more admissions but the good news is that through professional, residential, long term help one can fully overcome a marijuana problem.
The key is catching the issue early and enrolling in a rehabilitation center that gets good results.
For more information on marijuana rehabilitation contact us today.