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Marijuana and Teens

Marijuana and Teens

Every year, the Monitoring the Future Survey takes an in-depth look at the landscape of American youth and drug abuse. Not only does this intensive study look at drug use, but it measures attitudes concerning drug abuse and the perceived risk of various drugs. Measuring everything from cigarettes to prescription drugs to major “hard” drugs like PCP and heroin, the study has been conducted annually since 1975.

When it comes to marijuana use among our school-aged teens, the news isn’t necessarily good. The results of the most recent study in 2011 show a rise in marijuana use for the fourth year in a row. In fact, current use of marijuana is higher now than it has been for three decades. The study looks at use over the year prior to the study, as well as “daily use” trends – or use within the 30 days prior to the study. Marijuana use increased most significantly during that timeframe, indicating the more kids are using marijuana more often than previously recorded.

Perceived Risk of Marijuana Use Among Teenagers

When asked how much risk is involved in the use of marijuana, the percentage of kids who think there is “great risk” is going down. For high school seniors surveyed for 2011, the results were:

  • 15.6 percent saw great risk in trying pot once or twice (down from 18.5 percent in 2009)
  • 22.7 percent saw great risk in smoking marijuana occasionally (down from 27.4 percent in 2009)
  • 45.7 percent saw great risk in smoking marijuana regularly (down from 52.4 percent in 2009)
  • For comparison, 54 percent saw great risk in trying cocaine once or twice (up from 53.1 percent in 2009)

As the perceived risk of danger from marijuana goes down, usage trends go up. Just as the perceived risk numbers have gone down, so have the disapproval ratings. Currently, 77.5 percent of high school seniors disapprove of smoke marijuana regularly, down from 80.3 percent in 2009.

Knockout Box: Is Marijuana Addictive?

The short answer to this timeless question is “yes.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can be addictive over the long term. Addiction is described and diagnosed by certain behaviors versus specific physical characteristics. For instance, an individual may suffer from addiction if:

  • They seek a drug compulsively.
  • They use or abuse the drug despite harmful effects to social, school or work responsibilities.
  • They suffer withdrawal symptoms from lack of drugs in their systems.
  • They operate a motor vehicle or heavy equipment while under the influence.

Withdrawal Symptoms That Might Indicate Marijuana Abuse in Your Teen

Unlike some other drugs, such as opiate pain medication, the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are more difficult to recognize. The symptoms can range from sleeplessness and decreased appetite to anxiety and irritability. Teenagers can often present with these issues when drugs are not involved, so it is important to ask questions, and if you are in doubt, make an appointment with your family doctor.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that marijuana addiction is more prevalent in those individuals who began using the drug in their early lives. The sooner you can get help for your teen, the more likely you are to prevent an addiction problem in the future. Call us to today to find out how we can help.


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