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Marijuana is considered one of the top gateway drugs, as many teens start with it first since there is a prevelant belief that the drug is not harmful. As of 2011, teen use of marijuana increased substantially compared to the decade before, according to statistics published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

*Teen Marijuana Statistics

The NIDA reports the following about teen marijuana use:

  • Since 2000, marijuana use statistics by teens has been increasing consistently.
  • About 22 percent of 12th graders admit that they’ve used marijuana in the past month. Statistics for 10th and 11th graders aren’t as high but are equally as concerning.
  • Approximately 6.6 percent of 12th graders admit to using marijuana every single day.
  • Teens have access to synthetic marijuana which may contain many dangerous ingredients.

Marijuana Facts for Parents

It is important that parents understand the risks of marijuana use among their teens, along with the signs that their child is using the drug. While the long-term effects of marijuana use are not properly understood, there are many short-term effects that can be harmful. Teens using marijuana experience distorted perceptions, problems with physical coordination, and memory problem. It is believed that effects of marijuana use last beyond the initial high – and for as long as days in some individuals. For teens at an integral part of their physical and mental development, these effects can be harmful. In particular, they may find that their ability to perform in school declines drastically.

Marijuana is not physically addictive, but that does not mean that use does not become a habit among teens. The average rate of addiction overall with all users is 9 percent. It increases with those who began using at a young age; teens are at a higher risk of temporary or lifelong addiction since rates are about 17 percent. The risk of addiction is even greater for those who use daily, and those rates range from 25 to 50 percent.

*Signs of Marijuana Abuse

Parents need to understand the following signs of marijuana abuse, as this will indicate if their teens require help for an addiction. These symptoms are as reported by Narcotics Anonymous:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increase in appetite
  • High heart rate
  • Dellusions/hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Obvious memory problems

Marijuana Abuse Treatment Methods

The NIDA reports that treatment for marijuana addiction is usually only about 50 percent effective. As marijuana abuse is often accompanied by a mental health disorder, treatment often involves the administration of associated medications. For the rare circumstances where withdrawal occurs with marijuana addiction, there is little research to support that specific medications work exclusively for this purpose.

Support groups and counseling can be helpful for marijuana abusers as well, particularly if there is a mental health issue associated with their addiction. Without getting to the root cause of the problem, as with any addiction, individuals may struggle with relapse. This can be especially important for teens who feel the pressures of trying recreational drugs but don’t know how to deal with the repercussions of addiction.

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