Marijuana is often considered harmless. Thousands of people smoked it in the 1960s and they turned out all right. The truth is, today’s marijuana is a lot more potent than the weed of five decades ago. In just one example, modern pot contains six times more delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. This chemical is the main active ingredient and the primary reason for the high that occurs.
Current estimates state that 95 million Americans over the age of 11 have tried marijuana in some form at least once. One out of five high school seniors had reported smoking marijuana in 2010, according to a National Institute on Drug Abuse study. The same survey states that an increasing number of high school students are using marijuana daily.
Marijuana is known by many names: Mary Jane, reefer, chronic, ganja, kif, herb, boom, pot or weed. It is a combination of buds, leaves and seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. Whether the drug is smoked in a joint, inhaled through a bong or eaten as food, the danger is real. Extended use leads to dependence, addiction and harmful side effects. Getting treatment early is the best way to minimize the impact.
Modern Marijuana Dangers for Teens
A lot of people dismiss the dangers of smoking marijuana because they believe it is not addictive. In reality, pot smokers can become chemically dependent just like anyone else who takes drugs.
The THC in all forms of marijuana acts on the nerve connections in the cerebellum, hippocampus, basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. This attack triggers the brain to release dopamine, which is a chemical that makes the body feel good. Everyone likes pleasure, so the person is more likely to use drugs again in order to reclaim that high. Teenagers are three times more likely to become dependent on marijuana than adults.
This dependence can cause a continual craving for the euphoria from a THC high. This feeling eventually leads to more frequent and more potent drug use, even when the behavior has serious consequences. Adolescent marijuana users are likely to forget about schoolwork, skip classes, stop enjoying recreational activities, and distance themselves from family and friends. They may even give up on life and concentrate on the high. If this pattern continues, it can ruin the opportunity to go to college, get a good job, start a family, and live a happy, productive life.
If you feel you have entered this dangerous territory, you still have hope. A trained counselor is waiting at 1-888-287-0471 to discuss your situation.
Risks of Teen Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana cravings and dependence are very real possibilities after smoking weed. Full addiction is also possible. Just like with other drugs, teenagers can become so focused on the high that they try risky behaviors in order to obtain it. They may steal, damage property or even hurt friends in order to score an ounce.
The odds of becoming addicted to marijuana depend on many factors, such as:
- How much marijuana is used
- Frequency of usage
- The drug’s potency
- Whether it has been laced with other drugs
- Whether it is willingly taken with other drugs or alcohol
“Roughly one out of 10 marijuana users ends up chemically dependent.”Roughly one out of 10 marijuana users ends up chemically dependent. Starting young doubles the chances of addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Use marijuana every day as an adolescent and you will be five times as likely to get hooked.
It is important to note that addiction is not a lifetime sentence. Hundreds of treatment facilities across the United States possess the knowledge and skills to help you stop the cycle and prevent relapse. Even if you have committed a crime, they can put in touch with lawyers, doctors and therapists who can assist with your case.
Symptoms and Side Effects
Despite the growing number of teens using it, marijuana is not safe. You can never truly know what is in the marijuana that you buy on the street. In addition, the United States still considers pot usage to be illegal, so you can be arrested for possessing, using or selling even the smallest amounts.
The National Institutes of Health points out the most common side effects of marijuana use:
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of balance
- Memory problems
- Cognitive delays
- Difficulty learning new things
- Problems concentrating
- Poor judgment
- False perceptions
- Slow reaction times
- Low motivation
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
These health and life problems may not seem significant, but they can quickly lead to a downward slide. For instance, making poor judgments can lead to risky sexual activity, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Slow reaction times contribute to car accidents, accidental injuries and even death. In the long term, people who abuse marijuana report having problems at school and work, having more relationship issues, enjoying life less, and having more mental health problems than their peers who do not smoke marijuana.
Adolescent Addiction Treatment
Marijuana treatment programs often follow a holistic approach to treat the minds and bodies of the patients in their care. The treatment may be outpatient at a local clinic or inpatient at a residential facility, depending on whether your addiction is mild or severe.
Young men and women first go through a period of detoxification to remove the carcinogenic chemicals from the body. They are supported throughout this period to reduce the uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal.
Recovering addicts then go through weeks of individual or group counseling. These sessions center on why you use illegal drugs and why you are motivated to stop. They help you uncover your triggers and find ways to avoid situations that encourage drug use or at least handle those situations better.
Finally, patients graduate from their treatment programs and start living without relapse. No marijuana addict is ever cured, so follow-up therapy is important. Twelve-step programs like Marijuana Anonymous can fill the void and deliver social support from like-minded people.
No matter how many times you have smoked pot and no matter how often you have taken other drugs, the important step is to seek help. Marijuana is often viewed as a gateway drug. People who move on to harder drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, often start with marijuana. Instead of falling for this trap, call 1-888-287-0471. You have access to a confidential, caring professional who understands your struggles and can make recommendations that will move you towards a better life.