Marijuana is becoming a more socially accepted substance for medicinal and recreational use. With many states across the country legalizing marijuana use on some level, social attitudes toward marijuana use are also evolving. While cannabis has been shown to be beneficial for treating certain physical or mental health conditions, this doesn’t mean marijuana use is without risks. Teen marijuana use and the long-term mental and physical health issues caused by marijuana abuse shouldn’t be ignored. If your teen has a problem with marijuana or other substances, Safe Landing can help. Call us at 844-486-7205.
Recent studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveal that teen marijuana use can impact decision-making, judgment, memory, learning ability and more. This is because the brain continues to develop into the mid-20s, meaning children and teens are especially vulnerable to lasting physical and psychological effects of marijuana abuse.
How common is teen marijuana use? NIDA studies also found that 6.6 percent of eighth-graders had smoked marijuana or hashish in the past month, while 11.8percent had smoked in the past year. Meanwhile, the number of 10th graders who had used marijuana in the past month jumped to 18.4 percent in the last month, and 28.8percent in the past year. By 12th grade, 22.3percent reported using marijuana in the past month, and 35.7percent had in the past year.
What fuels this evident escalation in teen marijuana use? There are many components including peer pressure, curiosity and experimentation, and misinformation about the safety of marijuana use. It is common for young people to believe using marijuana is harmless. When compared to harder substances like cocaine and heroin, it is true that marijuana is less harmful. However, that doesn’t mean marijuana is safe for young people to use. Despite the medical applications of marijuana, it is not a ‘miracle drug’ and still poses risks, especially for long-term users. People that started smoking marijuana as children or adolescents reported lasting damage to cognitive function and have an increased risk of other health issues.
Most people associate marijuana use with smoking. Though this is the most common means of ingesting marijuana, it is not the only way it can be used. Being aware of the different forms of teen marijuana use and how easily the different forms of marijuana can be concealed is important to staying vigilant for signs of a problem.
The image that comes to mind when we think about marijuana is the drug in its purest form: dried flowers and leaves. These dried parts of the cannabis plant are often crushed up or ground then smoked either by rolling it into a cigarette-like stick called a ‘blunt’ or ‘joint’ or using a pipe (also sometimes called a bowl), or bong.
However, as marijuana legalization has led to a boom in the weed industry, there are more options for consumption. Teen marijuana use is easier to conceal because marijuana and its byproducts can now take the form of:
Paraphernalia for marijuana use has also advanced, making them less obvious and easier to conceal. Vape pens, pipes, bowls, and bongs can all be made to look like everyday objects such as lipsticks, asthma inhalers, utility knives, toys, or unassuming decor.
Teens may also use products made with THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. THC can be reduced to an oil that can be added to nearly anything. THC oils are used to make edibles like candies, brownies, chocolates, and more. It can also be used by itself for what is known as ‘dabbing.’
THC can be made more potent by concentrating the resin. Those concentrated compounds can be used to make a dense resin called hashish (or hash); a creamy, waxy substance called budder; or a hard candy-like crystalline material known as shatter. All of these concentrates are much more potent than “flower” marijuana and contain significantly more THC.
Despite popular opinion, it is possible to develop an addiction to marijuana. Because young brains are still developing, teen marijuana use has a high likelihood of leading to addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that approximately 2.6 million people in the U.S. use marijuana for the first time each year. Nine percent of people who use marijuana will come to depend on it. More specifically, 17 percent of people experiencing marijuana addiction began using marijuana in their teen years.
The belief that marijuana is non-addictive stems from misinformation and stereotypical views of what addiction looks like. Because society pushes one very specific image of what addiction is, signs your teen could be addicted to marijuana can go unnoticed. Early intervention for teen marijuana addiction can prevent a lifetime of hardship and help your child get back on the right track.
Signs your teen could be addicted to marijuana can be difficult to spot because they’re easy to mistake for something else. The teenage years are notorious for being an emotional minefield, so mood swings and isolation caused by a growing addiction can be dismissed as typical teen behavior. Likewise, the physical symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can be mistaken for a flu or cold. While it is important not to immediately jump to the worst conclusion, if you recognize any of the following behaviors, it may be time to talk to your child about a potential marijuana use problem.
Physical and Psychological Signs:
While the fears around marijuana use held by older generations have largely been dispelled, the question of if marijuana is a gateway drug is still largely debated. Teen marijuana use is not a guaranteed path to harder drugs or deeper substance use problems as many once believed. However, many people who experience substance use disorders as adults began with marijuana during their formative years.
There is also a high crossover between teen marijuana use and teen prescription drug abuse. Teens move on to abusing prescription drugs like Adderall, Valium, or Vicodin because the pills are often easy to obtain and hide. There is also a common false belief among teens that these drugs are safe because of their prescribed status, even if they aren’t specifically prescribed to them. As teens seek new and more powerful highs they may fall further into drug use with substances like heroin, meth, or cocaine.
Why do some people who use marijuana as teens develop addictions while others don’t? Put simply, there is no clear cut answer. Addiction affects people across all demographics, but there are a variety of factors that may indicate a higher risk. The three most common factors among people with substance use disorders are:
Even so, many people who fall into these categories never experience a substance use disorder. Understanding that there is no way to truly predict if teen marijuana use will lead to addiction only emphasizes the importance of early intervention.
What’s the big deal about teen marijuana use? Everyone experiments in their teens, so it can’t be that serious, right? Wrong. It is true that the teenage years are a time of self-discovery and that may come with some experimentation, but drug and alcohol use should not be treated as an expected ‘coming of age’ experience. That social attitude toward teen substance use is a major contributor to the ongoing addiction epidemic.
Excusing addictive habits in your teens because ‘teens will be teens’ only enables long-term issues in the future. Understanding why marijuana use in teens is harmful is vital for preventing addiction from developing or worsening.
Lowered inhibitions caused by marijuana use can lead to risky or dangerous behaviors with lasting consequences. Driving while high, for instance, is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. The reduced reaction time caused by teen marijuana use increases the chances of a collision or other accidents. Teens who are high are also more likely to engage in activities they would not otherwise partake in, such as criminal or sexual acts.
As previously mentioned, long-term mental and physical health issues associated with marjuana use can follow your child into adulthood. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that adolescent cannabis use can affect cognitive functions like thinking, memory, and learning capabilities well into adulthood. This damage can be permanent and irreversible without the proper interventions.
Treatment of teen marijuana use disorders is unlike adult addiction rehab programs. Teens face different challenges in recovery than their adult counterparts and require specialized care to address their needs. Safe Landing Recovery in Miami, FL is dedicated to helping address teen substance use before it becomes a lifelong problem.
At Safe Landing, our approach to marijuana addiction treatment is multifaceted and comprehensive. We work closely with each client and their families to identify the root causes of substance use and empower them with the tools they need to overcome the challenges of recovery. Here’s what that looks like:
These trauma-informed approaches to treatment guides teens through uncovering the source of their troubles and finding more beneficial ways of coping. Our therapy modalities include:
Supplemental Enrichment Programs:
The goal of our treatment programs is more than just abstinence. We strive to ensure each client leaves our program a more well-rounded and empowered version of themselves. Our weekly group outings and holistic supplemental programs teach our clients that life in recovery can be fun and fulfilling. Each week our clients engage in a fun team building experience they get to choose that helps build communication and problem-solving skills. They also have opportunities to explore new hobbies and interests they can carry with them into the future.
Educational Support and Aftercare Services:
At Safe Landing Recovery, we understand how important education is for our clients. We believe addiction treatment should never stand in the way of the learning process. Once a client enters our teen marijuana use treatment program we enroll them into our APEX learning virtual school program to keep them on track for graduation. If your child is behind or needs some additional support, our certified educational support staff is on-site to help. We also provide assistance with GED, SAT, or ACT prep and planning the next steps after graduation. Our case management staff can assist in finding scholarship opportunities, completing college or trade school applications, or preparing a resume for those who want to move straight into the workforce.
Our support doesn’t end with the completion of a treatment program either. Safe Landing Recovery alumni stay connected with their support team and each other through our exclusive alumni support network. Parents, guardians, and other family members are also encouraged to engage with our community to find support from others who get what you’re going through.
Addiction recovery is a community effort, especially for teens. If your family is struggling because of your child’s marijuana use, Safe Landing Recovery is here to help. Learn more about our program and what you can expect during the treatment process by giving us a call today at 844-486-7205. There’s no commitment, we just want to give you the information you need to make the right decision for your family.