Teen Marijuana Abuse Treatment
Marijuana is a mix of the dry leaves, stems, and other parts of the hemp plant, Cannabis. It’s most commonly smoked but can also be mixed into food or drinks., and is the most commonly abused drug among teenagers in the United States.
What Teen Marijuana Abuse Looks Like
The increase in abuse has called for more teen marijuana abuse treatment in the last several years. This increase is believed to be directly related to teens’ diminished attitude regarding the drug’s risks. Marijuana use can sometimes be overlooked by users as simply recreational, but repeated use and/or addiction can nonetheless lead to problematic and debilitating symptoms, especially in teens.
Effects on the Brain
The way marijuana works is that the active ingredient, THC, targets receptors in the brain that are usually associated with pleasure, memory, coordinated movement, and development. When the THC over-stimulates this part of the brain too many times (in the case of repeated use) research shows that normal functioning can still be impaired years later and can include loss of memory. The drug can also prevent the brain from continuing to develop normally. In a recent research study, people who began smoking marijuana as teenagers were shown to score significantly lower on an IQ test years later. Notably, the IQ results weren’t affected in those who began smoking as adults.
Effects on the Body
Marijuana has a number of effects on the body, including:
- Elevated heart rate
- Irritation of the lungs and respiratory system
- Worsening or onset of symptoms related to mental illness
- Anxiety or Paranoia
Effects on Life
People who abuse marijuana can become dependent upon it to function and even begin to need it to perform basic life tasks such as getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night. Marijuana abuse can also lead to people becoming lazy and apathetic toward their responsibilities, as they become most concerned with enjoying their high and maintaining those symptoms for as long as possible. Such apathy toward life can result in people not putting effort toward schoolwork, responsibilities at home, and relationships which, in time, can cause significant harm.
Regardless of popular notions otherwise, marijuana is an addictive drug, making it difficult to quit. For teenagers who are abusing marijuana, treatment addresses not only quitting the drug, but the underlying motivating factors or needs that lead a person to smoke it in the first place.
Withdrawal from regular marijuana use can often be uncomfortable and difficult, but is not as extreme as some other substances. A therapist can first help support a person through these symptoms, then help the person in addressing the effects using has had on parts of life such as relationships or school work, and lastly, can help the person develop new strategies and habits toward addressing their stress or conflicts in life, without turning back to the drug. Because some of marijuana’s most prominent effects can be related to life responsibilities, the therapist can help a person get back on track with those neglected aspects. This can be especially helpful for a teenager who might perceive these challenges (such as restoring relationships or getting grades up) as too overwhelming to face.
What if I just smoke for fun?
Teen Marijuana abuse is so common among teens that it can be easy to overlook the possible negative effects and consequences of using. However, the legal consequences alone make using (even infrequently) risky. Furthermore, many of the other physical and mental consequences aren’t going to be things you can perceive (such as brain damage and respiratory irritation) even though they’re still occurring. Lastly, you may not be aware of how your use has affected other parts of your life, even if originally, your intentions seemed harmless.
If it’s so bad, why is it legal now in some places?
The process of legalization of marijuana for medicinal use is still in its early stages and is still surrounded by much controversy. It’s true that the substance has been reported to have positive medicinal effects for people with certain ailments; however, it’s very difficult to monitor and assure consistency in drug amounts from one plant to the next, which is one obstacle in the FDA’s official approval of it. Lastly, the negative health effects still outweigh the positive medical uses and these negative effects are much more pronounced in teenage users, making the potential medicinal qualities irrelevant.