Marijuana is an ingestible substance that contain leaves, stems, sticks, seeds, buds and the flower of the cannabis plant. Typically, ingestion occurs by smoking, although edibles are becoming quite popular as well.
The drug affects users by sending a powerful psychoactive chemical known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) into the bloodstream. After entering the blood stream it reaches the brain within seconds and reacts with the neurons to create feelings of calm, slight euphoria, and general lethargy.
Shocking stats about the current state of marijuana use amongst young adults.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and its use is widespread amongst young adults. According to a yearly survey of middle and high school students in the United States, marijuana usage rates have steadied after years of increase. Although encouraging, the numbers are still shockingly high, with approximately 21-percent of all high school seniors reporting marijuana usage in the past 30 days.
While tobacco and cigarette use continues to decline year-over-year in the same age group a shift in the perception of marijuana has led to steady usage rates amongst young adults. The majority of high school seniors report a perception that marijuana isn’t harmful, with only 36.1-percent believing regular use puts the user at great risk, compared to 39.5-percent in 2013 and 52.4-percent in 2009.
So, what does this mean?
While usage rates have steadied while commonly abused substance amongst teens (cigarettes and alcohol) have shown declines, the perception of marijuana being relatively harmless is in line with a national shift in attitude toward the drug as well.
While more states legalize the drug for medicinal use, and some have – or are considering – legalization in a recreational sense, the harmful effects caused by its usage are seemingly swept under the rug under the guise of progress.
The matter is a complicated one, and legalities aside, there are a number of negative effects associated with abuse of marijuana.
What are the risks associated with marijuana?
Ingesting marijuana leads to the active ingredient – THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol – quickly passing through the lungs and into the bloodstream. Ultimately the blood carries the THC to the brain itself. When the drug reaches the brain, it causes a “high” that users feel in their head, body, or both. Along with this high comes side effects, such as:
• Impaired judgment
• Lowered inhibitions
• Speech and thought impairment
• Mood changes
• Difficulty judging distances and timing
Long-term, continued use is especially problematic, as studies have shown that it affects normal brain development in young adults. Teens commonly show signs of reduced memory and cognitive ability as well as a decline in overall brain function due to marijuana’s ability to negatively impact the connections between brain areas necessary to complete these functions.
A 2012 study showed that those who started smoking marijuana in their teens lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 18 and 38. The loss didn’t return in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.
While that’s not to say there aren’t additional affects that plague adults who struggle with marijuana abuse issues, the problems are even more prevalent in children and young adults with adults showing fewer signs of permanent damage.
The bottom line.
As opioid use continues to rise, we’ve seen contrasting moves in the stalwarts of teenage abuse such as alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana, long considered a major threat to teens is now undergoing a perception change and accompanying it is a steadying in the numbers of overall usage. While societal change in the perception of marijuana isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the idea that legal marijuana means “safe” is a troubling idea that children and teens may not fully understand.
It’s important to relay to our teens and young adults that continual marijuana use isn’t safe, and carries with it severe risks when used during key periods of brain development, such as the adolescent and teenage years.
How Burning Tree West can help.
Burning Tree West recognizes the potential dangers associated with habitual marijuana use and through proper education and treatment, our experts will help to guide your young adult toward a new life that is free from the bonds of this, and other substances.
Our treatment facility aims to provide healthy habits and lifelong bonds amongst like-minded sober individuals. Our facility is guided by the 12 steps, and exists to help your young adult leave past mistakes behind and work toward finding happiness in success through sobriety.
For more information, contact us today.