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Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. Though, it is categorized as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it is used by nearly all age groups.

Derived from the Cannabis sativa or the Cannabis indica plant, it is used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. The Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant contains more than 60 cannaboids, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient which causes the mind-altering and intoxicating effects.

Marijuana can be smoked, ingested, or vaporized. Once the chemicals enter the bloodstream, they travel to the brain and bind the receptors thus affecting the mind and the body causing different emotions like elevated mood, happiness, increased friendliness, and impaired movement.

Marijuana abuse

Regular marijuana use can cause serious physical and psychological problems. It can affect learning, behaviors, memories, and social skills leading to dependence and addiction.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s (NSDUH) annual report , there were about 557,000 adolescents aged between 12 to 17 who suffered from marijuana use disorder (MUD). Being a teen is a crucial time, where the brain is not fully developed nor are the decision-making abilities. Due to many factors such as peer pressure, social acceptance, or an experiment, a teen might start using marijuana early in life. The casual use may turn into tolerance, dependence, and gradually an addiction.

It is for this reason that the repeated calls and demands for the legalization of marijuana in U.S. raises several questions and is a matter of grave concern. Currently 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the use of medical marijuana and 11 states have legalized the use of recreational cannabis.

Many mental health service providers and organizations of the U.S. are opposed to the legalization of marijuana use, and have argued from time to time that there is not enough data to indicate any medicinal benefits of the drug.

According to experts, about 30 percent of marijuana users are likely to suffer from MUD. Further, those who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are nearly 4 to 7 times more likely to develop MUD.

Marijuana variants

Traditionally, marijuana was used in the form of hand-rolled cigarettes known as joints. The concentration of THC in these crude joints were usually low and not monitored as such. However, the 1970s saw the introduction of joints which contained an average THC concentration of about 1 percent. This was followed by an increase in the THC concertation to nearly 3 percent by the 1990s. The 2000s saw a further increase to about 13 percent. Slowly, other forms of smoking marijuana have developed. To list a few, marijuana can be smoked in pipes or water pipes referred to as bongs or rolled in cigar wraps called blunts. Another marijuana derivative which is gaining popularity is edibles. Marijuana edibles are eatables, like cookies, brownies, fudges, pizzas, and muffins infused with marijuana. Edibles take time to produce a high because it takes longer for them to be digested and absorbed into the blood stream. The latest teen trends are increasingly seeing other types of marijuana use, such as hash oil and hemp. Hash oil is consumed by “dabbing” and it can include THC concentration of over 50 percent. The higher the level of THC, the more dangerous and harmful the effects can be.

Side effects of marijuana use

Marijuana is used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a pain reliever. However, the THC concentration in marijuana creates the sense of high. Marijuana use can lead to several physical as well as physiological side effects. These can be classified into two forms short-term and long-term effects.

Short-term effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated mood
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Changes in blood sugar level
  • Impaired body motor function
  • Altered perception of time and sense

Long-term effects:

  • Paranoia
  • Delusion
  • Hallucination
  • Decreased IQ
  • Increased heart rate
  • Altered impulse control
  • Memory retention problem
  • Respiratory disorders like bronchitis
  • Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Impaired brain functions leading to dependence and eventually addiction

Marijuana use affects brain development and leads to reduced functionality of certain parts of it, especially those associated with memory, concertation, learning, and motor coordination. Apart from its harmful physical and psychological side effects, marijuana also hampers relationships, academic performances, career growth, and leads to a lack of motivation and fatigue.

Long-term use of marijuana also leads to dangerous behavioral issues in teens leading to accidents. Drug use may result in injuries due to weapons and unprovoked violence, sometimes leading to murder and/or suicides.

Teen years, especially between 12 and 17 is a crucial time as the brain is actively developing during that phase. Use of drugs and alcohol during that time can hamper a teen’s ability to grow and progress mentally, physically, and psychologically.

Marijuana addiction treatment

Though dependence on marijuana takes time, it does not take long to turn into an addiction. Sudden stop in usage leads to several unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, cravings, and disturbed sleep.

Due to its addictive nature, marijuana addiction can be difficult to overcome. A comprehensive treatment program for marijuana addiction combines the perfect mix of medications, behavioral therapies, and alternate therapies, administered under professional care. While medications help manage the withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapies and counseling will help identify and change the negative thought process and help avoid relapse. One should opt for a medically supervised marijuana addiction treatment program to achieve long-lasting recovery.

According to many experts, alcohol and drug abuse is often an attempt to self-medicate an underlying mental health disorder. Therefore, it is imperative that the health care providers focus on these co-occurring concerns, when treating the patient, in order to prevent relapses.

Treatment at Adeona Healthcare

Adeona Healthcare, a rehab center for teens aged 12 to 17, provides a comprehensive treatment program from mental health illness, teen alcohol or drug addiction, and dual diagnosis. We understand that teenage years is a delicate time and that teens need sensitive and age-appropriate care. Therefore, we individualize each treatment program to suit a teen’s specific needs and requirements, so that not only is the addiction addressed but also the underlying factors. In addition to medications, we also offer therapies like solution-focused therapy (SFT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), in a safe and structured atmosphere.

For more information about our evidence-backed treatment modalities, call our 24/7 teen drug addiction treatment helpline at 888-379-9360 and speak with a member of our admissions team. You can also chat online for further assistance.

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