There is a big misconception that marijuana is not addictive. However, that is false. Contrary to common belief, marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about nine percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17%, or one in six) and among daily users (25 to 50%).
How Many Teens Use Marijuana?
Many teenagers try marijuana, and some use it regularly. As a result, teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years, and today’s teens are more likely to use marijuana than tobacco.
In 2019, 37% of US high school students reported lifetime use of marijuana, and 22% reported use in the past 30 days. Past-year vaping of marijuana also remained steady in 2020, following significant increases in 2018 and 2019. In addition, large percentages of middle and high school students reported past-year marijuana vaping—eight percent of eighth-graders, 19% of 10th graders, and 22% of 12th graders.
Many of the nearly seven percent of high-school seniors who report smoking marijuana daily or almost daily are well on their way to addiction, if not already addicted, and might be functioning at a sub-optimal level in their schoolwork and other areas.
Legalization of Marijuana
The marijuana legalization movement has played a role in sending mixed messages to young people that marijuana is safe because “it’s medicine” or “it’s legal.” Unfortunately, this leaves it up to parents to help set things straight. By understanding the risks, dangers, facts, and statistics on teen marijuana use, you can better address the issue with your teen.
Many states allow recreational use of marijuana in adults ages 21 and over. However, recreational marijuana use by children and teenagers is not legal anywhere in the United States.
Marijuana Plants Contain Higher Amounts of THC
Today’s marijuana plants are grown differently than in the past and can contain two to three times more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that makes people high. The component of the marijuana plant thought to have the most medical benefits, cannabidiol (CBD), has not increased and remains at about one percent.
Additionally, the products sold in dispensaries currently are not subject to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards and are not purely isolated cannabinoids; they are therefore not reliable in their potency or concentration of CBD or THC or the inclusion of other ingredients.
Various Ways to Use
These days, teens have more options regarding how to use marijuana. Various ways include:
- Smoking the dried plant in a rolled cigarette or pipe
- Smoking liquid or wax marijuana in an electronic cigarette, also known as vaping.
- Eating “edibles,” which are baked goods and candies containing marijuana products
- Drinking beverages containing marijuana products
- Using topical oils and tinctures
Marijuana and the Teenage Brain
One of the primary concerns with teens and marijuana is the effect cannabis has on the developing brain. Despite what many teens may believe, their brains do not finish developing until roughly 25 years of age. During this critical period of development, marijuana can significantly impact the brain’s structure and function.
Studies have shown that marijuana use during adolescence can affect areas of the brain associated with:
- Memory and learning
- Impulse control
Marijuana use is linked with impaired attention, concentration, and increased risk of addiction and drug abuse.
Cannabis Use Disorder
Regular use of marijuana can lead to significant problems, including cannabis use disorder.
Signs that your child has developed cannabis use disorder include using marijuana more often than intended, having cravings, or when using it interferes with other activities.
If someone with cannabis use disorder stops using suddenly, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that include:
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep and appetite
Talk to Your Teen
Given the risk of cognitive impairments, parents and teachers need to talk openly about marijuana with teens, helping them understand its effects on their rapidly-developing brains.
Marijuana use in teens can lead to long-term consequences. However, teens rarely think they will end up with problems related to marijuana use, so it is important to begin talking about the risks with your teen early and continue this discussion over time.
Talking with your teen about marijuana can help delay the age of first use and protect their brain. If your teen is already using marijuana, try asking questions openly and curiously, your teen will talk more freely if not feeling judged.
Talking about drugs with your teen can help them make healthier and more informed decisions about marijuana use. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.
Marijuana use among teens is at an all-time high. New routes of administration and higher-potency THC increase the chances of addiction in developing brains. Marijuana addiction in teens can negatively impact learning, memory, decision-making, impulse control, and motivation. As parents, it is crucial to know the warning signs and when to reach out for help. At Clearfork Academy, we believe in the potential of teenagers and the power of faith to change the trajectory of their lives. It’s our hope that in the 13 weeks of programming, we can build rapport and create new strategies for holistic sober living for each teen and their family. Teen drug rehab is more than a job to us; it’s a calling. If you or someone you know has a teen struggling with marijuana use or addiction, help is available. To learn more, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.