Trends in Teen Marijuana Use
Marijuana itself is surrounded by myths, false information and misconceptions. Many feel that drugs are natural, safe and should be legalized, while drug enforcement struggles to control widespread abuse across the country.
We turn to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) national survey , conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for current projections and trends of substance abuse among young people, in the hope that greater understanding will help us prevent a worsening epidemic.
Cannabis Remains The Leading Popular Drug
Cannabis continues to be the most popular drug abused among young Americans, with about one in nine high school students admitting to marijuana use in the past month. More teens today smoke marijuana than tobacco cigarettes. Although marijuana use declined between the 1990s and early 2000s, drug use is now seen to increase with a notable spike in use among 10th graders over the last decade.
The 2012 MTF survey further projects that, as perceptions of cannabis risk decline, use continues to increase or persist. The recent public media attention to the marijuana legalization debate and the general perception of marijuana as a “safe” and “natural” substance may be important factors in the problem of increasing marijuana use.
The debate about whether or not marijuana is actually a gateway drug is a mature issue with many opinions. Dare.com defines gateway drugs as: “… Drugs that open the door to the use of other, more violent drugs.” According to the theory of dependence and physical tolerance, marijuana serves as a stepping stone to other substances and hard drugs once the body becomes tolerant of the effects of marijuana.
For many parents, the rise of synthetic marijuana is now a major concern. The new drug consists of a mixture of dried leaves (made to resemble marijuana) that have been treated with chemicals called synthetic cannabinoids. These chemicals are sprayed onto the herbal mixture and interact with the brain similar to conventional marijuana. Highs from synthetic marijuana are described as much more intense, unstable and addictive.
Other Substances of Attention
Underage alcohol consumption is one of the most dangerous aspects of the youth substance abuse problem, as drunk driving and reckless driving takes thousands of youth lives every year. Nearly 30% of high school students reported to MTF surveyors about drunken acts in the past month. Binge drinking is of particular concern, as it poses a real threat to health and well-being.
Adolescent ecstasy abuse (MDMA) in the past year has seen a decline, dropping from 5.3% of high school students admitting to last year’s use in 2011 to 3.8% in 2012. Ecstasy remains on youth radar as a hazardous substance, still sits in the list of the top 20 most popular drugs.
The 2012 MTF survey showed that nearly 15% of high school students admitted to non-medical use of prescription drugs (without a doctor’s supervision or guidance) in the past year. The most important prescriptions among teens appear to be Adderall (a stimulant ADHD medication) and Vicodin (an opioid painkiller), but other prescriptions to look out for include Ritalin, Oxycontin and Xanax.
The Substance Abuse Epidemic
The substance abuse epidemic we face today among our youth is a growing public health problem. In addition to marijuana and the substances mentioned above, parents and teachers should be on the lookout for signs of abuse of these drugs:
· Bath Salt
Cough medicine/cough syrup
Prescription of sedatives and tranquilizers
· Inhalansia (gas Freon AC, lem, nitrous oxide, dll)
Spend time with the youth in your home to plan and implement fact-based drug education. The power of preventative measures is often underestimated, but they can change the course of a teenager’s life.
CBD Products Can Help Kids With Addiction
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