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Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. According to the 2017 National Survey in Drug Use and Health report, 557,000 adolescents suffered from marijuana use disorder (MUD) in the past year. MUD was defined as “experiencing clinically significant impairment caused by the recurrent use of marijuana, including health problems, persistent or increasing use, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.” The NSDUH categorized those individuals as having a MUD if they smoked cannabis more than 6 times a week in the past year and who met the criteria as specified in the DSM-IV.

The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabino (THC) which causes the intoxicating effects. Along with the traditional method of marijuana usage by smoking via cigarettes, pipes or bongs, the other form of usage which is becoming quite popular among teens nowadays is edibles.

Edibles can be defined as a marijuana-infused food item or beverage. Items like brownies and cookies are becoming the food of choice for teens, though, almost all food items can be infused with marijuana.

Forms of edibles

Some of the popular forms of edibles amongst teens are:

  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Fudges
  • Chocolate muffins
  • Pies
  • Butter
  • Infused tea
  • Candies

Marijuana-infused oil can be used for cooking food while marijuana-infused butter can be spread and eaten on already cooked/prepared food.

Edibles are gaining popularity amongst adolescents because they are considered to be safer than smoking or inhaling and they do not leave any traces of smell unlike the smoke-able variants. Edibles also comes in various flavors, shapes, and sizes making them appealing to teens and fun to use. According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey, conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), of the 12th graders who consumed marijuana in the past year, 40 percent said that they used the edible form.

Though many states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana respectively, the rules concerning its use still need a lot of working out. While the state governments have formed rules regarding the possession of marijuana and the taxes it would levy on marijuana and its derivatives and products, clear rules are yet to emerge for edible marijuana products. Unfortunately, as of now, it is difficult to estimate the THC content in marijuana edibles making consuming them even riskier. Several studies have found that the product labeling is a problem with majority of them being labeled incorrectly.

Effects of edible marijuana

Ingesting marijuana may cause the same effects as marijuana cigarettes or bongs. However, orally consumed marijuana is slowly absorbed by the human digestive tract, taking anywhere between 1 to 3 hours for the effects to manifest. Hence, the side effects of using marijuana edibles is that one may end up eating larger amounts thinking that the drug is not working.

Some of the common side effects of edible marijuana are:

  • Confusion
  • Laziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Respiratory problems

Further, the presence of any other medications in the body may lead to greater absorption of THC leading to a five-fold increase in the levels of the product in one’s bloodstream. Moreover, the symptoms of overdose observed when one consumes edible marijuana are known to be severer compared to those experienced as a result of smoking marijuana. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, reported a higher occurrence of cardiovascular and psychiatric problems amongst people who ate marijuana edibles. Symptoms of overdose usually include uncontrolled vomiting, rapid heart rate, and heightened anxiety.

In spite of the problems associated with the consumption of edible marijuana products, in 2018, the marijuana edible market was estimated at a staggering $2.3 billion. Experts feel that this market value would increase significantly to reach $5.3 billion by 2022. As marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, marijuana edibles can neither enter inter-state commerce nor be marketed as dietary supplements or additions to them. Following the federal directive, states like North Carolina and New York have banned marijuana edibles calling them unsafe.

Treatment for marijuana abuse at Adeona Healthcare

Marijuana ingestion must be taken as seriously as any other drug use disorder. Marijuana addiction can be difficult to overcome because of its addictive nature and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When stopped abruptly, marijuana users can experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, cravings, and disturbed sleeping patterns. A comprehensive treatment program for marijuana addiction comprises medically assisted detoxification treatment followed by behavioral therapies and counseling under professional care.

Adeona Healthcare, a leading rehab center for teens aged between 12 to 17, provides age-sensitive care for teen drug or alcohol addiction, mental disorders, and dual-diagnosis. In addition to medications, we also offer therapies like solution-focused therapy (SFT), dialectical behavior therapy (BDT), and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), increasing the chances of long-term recovery. For more information about marijuana addiction and how it can affect your teen, call our 24/7 helpline 888-379-9360 or chat online with a representative.

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