Teen Marijuana Addiction

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Known by a variety of names, such as weed, pot, herb and dope, marijuana is derived from the leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant and can be smoked, ingested or vaporized. Marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug by teenagers and young adults. Classified as a Schedule I substance, marijuana contains more than 60 cannabinoids, including delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The main psychoactive constituent in marijuana is THC which works by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain and produce a “high.” THC is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when it is smoked or vaporized, while it can take an hour or two to show its effect when ingested.

On ingestion, these chemicals enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they bind to receptors and affect the mind and body in various ways. It can give rise to varied emotions like happiness, altered senses, impaired body movement and increased sociability. Whether smoked, brewed or eaten, regular use of marijuana can lead to disastrous consequences, along with physical and behavioral changes, in the user.

Is marijuana illegal?

Marijuana use soared in the last decade despite a drop in its use during the 1990s. Although it remains prohibited at the federal level, marijuana is permitted for medical use in 29 American states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. While advocates of medical marijuana have been striving hard to get the category of marijuana changed, the drug still remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Marijuana abuse

Despite the common belief that marijuana is not an addictive drug, chronic marijuana use can be physically and psychologically addictive for teenagers. Marijuana abuse can result in problems with learning, memory, mood and social behavior, and can lead to dependence, tolerance and addiction.

As the scent of cannabis can take days to dissipate, many teenagers and adults employ a litany of methods for disguising their use. Marijuana-infused edibles, such as brownies or rice crispy treats, have become popular because they do not leave any incriminating scent behind and can be easily disposed of.

Despite its popularity, its use among teenagers has seen a steady decline in recent years. As per recent statistics, marijuana use among adolescents (aged 12 to 17) was lower in 2016 compared to that during 2009-2014. According to the 2016 monitoring the future (MTF) survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), though marijuana use among 12th graders has been quite steady for several years, its prevalence among 8th and 10th graders has seen a steady decline. The survey also pointed to a significant decline in marijuana use in 2016 for the three grades combined.

Marijuana abuse: Short-term effects

Marijuana is often abused for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used as a pain reliever and a relaxant. On consuming cannabis products with high THC content, teens can experience greater impairments and harm. When abused, marijuana causes psychological problems along with the physical ones.

Following are some of the physical and psychological effects of marijuana abuse.

  • Altered sensory experiences and sense of time
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in time perception
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Changes in blood sugar level
  • Dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety/paranoia

Marijuana abuse: Long-term effects

Marijuana use affects the development of the brain and causes a temporary reduction in the functionality of certain parts of the brain. It also hinders communication between the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, concentration/perception, and motor coordination, respectively.

When used by teenagers, the drug can impair learning, memory, and thinking functions and lead to academic and career problems, relationship problems, and worsening of mental and physical health. Marijuana is also considered to be a “gateway drug” that can lead to the use of more dangerous substances like heroin.

Following are some of the other long-term consequences of marijuana abuse.

  • Altered function of the brain’s reward system, which can increase the tendency to use drugs later in life
  • Problems with learning and retaining memories
  • Impaired impulse control
  • Decline in IQ
  • Respiratory problems (e.g., chronic chest infections or bronchitis)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened heart attack risk
  • Temporary hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized cognition

Chronic marijuana use among teens can also heighten their risk of developing depressive and anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts. Although marijuana is arguably the least dangerous of all the illicit drugs, recent findings suggest that marijuana use can trigger paranoia and other psychotic symptoms in young people who are genetically vulnerable.

Marijuana addiction treatment

Chronic marijuana users are more likely to develop physical dependence and addiction. Marijuana addiction is characterized by taking pot despite knowing its side effects and the sheer inability to cut down its use.

Marijuana abuse can take months or even years to develop into dependence. When stopped abruptly, users can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, cravings and sleeping difficulties.

Owing to its addictive nature and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, it can be difficult to overcome addiction to marijuana. A comprehensive treatment for marijuana addiction comprises medically assisted detoxification treatment followed by behavioral therapies under professional care. While the detox program helps flush out drug from the system and manage the withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapies and counseling help avoid any drug relapse. One should opt for medically supervised marijuana detox programs or marijuana detox treatment at state-of-the-art marijuana detox centers.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

Marijuana rehab at Sovereign’s Rancho San Diego facility offers comprehensive programs to teens that include evidence-based treatments like behavioral therapy and complementary treatments, such as neurofeedback. Our multidisciplinary health care professionals at our marijuana rehab in San Diego County understand the pressures of adolescence and design tailor-made treatment plans for each patient basis their needs.

As a Joint Commission-accredited facility, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego’s marijuana rehabilitation center constantly works to help patients stay clear of addiction to drugs and alcohol and instead focus on healthy pursuits. Our marijuana rehab centers offer comprehensive behavioral health treatments for patients who need rehab for weed abuse or dependence.

To know more about Sovereign Health’s adolescent treatment programs or locate the finest marijuana treatment centers, near you, call our 24/7 helpline and speak to our representatives. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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