Marijuana and Cannabis Abuse in Young People

Cannabis use has been on a steady incline in the past few years, owing due to its growing popularity as well as its somewhat legal status in most parts of the country.

Marijuana is a mix of the dry leaves, stems, and other parts of the cannabis plant. Not to be confused with hemp, a crop commonly gained from impotent cannabis plants (i.e. cannabis with imperceivably or acceptably-low THC content), cannabis grown specifically for the psychoactive plant chemicals called cannabinoids is known as marijuana. Marijuana is most often smoked, but the oils gained from cannabis plants can also be mixed into sweets and baked goods or taken orally to achieve the same effect.

What Does Marijuana Abuse Look Like?

  • Cannabis use has been on a steady incline in the past few years, owing due to its growing popularity as well as its somewhat legal status in most parts of the country. While medical marijuana is generally legally-permissible (as are medical opioids, stimulants, and sedatives), recreational marijuana is only legal in very few parts of the US (including California).
  • The way marijuana works is that the active ingredient, THC, targets receptors in the brain that are usually associated with pleasure, memory, coordinated movement, and development. Different forms of cannabis have different effects, but generally cause temporary cognitive impairment.
  • Some studies show that long-term cannabis use can lead to a general decline in cognition and intellect, and that there is a risk of an emotional dependency on cannabis – meaning, teens may rely on cannabis as a way to deal with stress and anxiety, causing them to rely on the drug to get through the day. This is different from physical addiction but is just as dangerous.

What Causes Marijuana Abuse?

Marijuana has been used in the US for centuries but has grown significantly in usage since becoming legal in several states. However, marijuana dependency is a real issue for many teens. Some rely on the drug as a way to calm down or relax, not due to pre-existing issues, but because they become agitated and anxious without weed.

Availability – marijuana is a widely-available drug in most of the US and is even legally available for recreational use in several states. This makes it one of the most commonly-abused drugs in the country.

Lack of information – many proponents of marijuana use argue that there are no negative side-effects to the drug, and that most people only stand to benefit from using marijuana in their lives. On the other hand, there is conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of marijuana in helping people who are not ill, and there is little evidence to suggest that marijuana doesn’t have the potential to be habit-forming. Anecdotally, people have claimed that marijuana has made them emotionally-dependent on the drug, causing anxiety as part of a series of withdrawal symptoms.

Depression and anxiety – some turn towards marijuana as a way to deal with the symptoms of pre-existing problems, like depression and anxiety. While the drug can relieve these symptoms for a while, it is not an effective solution, and may delay a teen from getting the help they need to address their mental health problems properly. Some teens may benefit from using marijuana regularly alongside a professional treatment for their condition, but it’s important to seek help and a valid medical opinion, rather than using marijuana as a way to self-medicate.


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How Can I Help a Teen with Marijuana Abuse?

Monitor their usage – marijuana use can lead to abuse, but most teens who use the drug tend to grow out of it and stop using relatively early on in their lives. Out of other narcotic substances, marijuana is among the least likely to lead to dependence issues. But it is still a cause for concern. If your teen is exhibiting disconcerting behavior – from missing school to losing interest in old hobbies and not forming new interests, to avoiding social contact or getting into trouble – see if their behavior is correlated to their drug use. They may be struggling emotionally with other, deeper issues, using weed as a way to cope, or turning towards destructive behavior as a way to act out because they’re unable to communicate their troubles.

Talk to them about getting help – if you suspect that your teen is struggling with marijuana dependency, then you need to approach them about getting help. Marijuana isn’t the kind of drug that causes an overdose, but it can lead to long-term loss of cognitive abilities. Some teens may be defensive about their habit because of what they’ve read or heard, but if their drug use is clearly affecting them and others, pointing it out may help you get through to them and convince them to take a break, and see if things get better over time.

Seek out recovery options together – marijuana abuse can only be tackled through a comprehensive, holistic treatment process that looks at why a teen starts using to begin with and goes from there. Residential teen marijuana abuse treatment is a good place to start, by putting a teen in an environment where they can’t seek out marijuana, and then giving them access to professional services to help cope with whatever they may be going through.Video Player

What Types of Teen Marijuana Abuse Treatment Are Available?

Treating a teen with a marijuana use disorder (or marijuana dependency) requires a biopsychosocial approach. Professionals are taught to identify how different factors in a teen’s life affect their current dependency to marijuana, and how changing these factors can help a teen stop using drugs as a way to cope with their problems. The primary tool for helping someone with marijuana use disorder is talk therapy.

Therapy – Talk therapy is important in helping teens realize why they began using drugs in the first place, and at what point their drug use stepped over into drug abuse. Marijuana can be a dangerous drug, and its effects aren’t as harmless as often portrayed. Medical marijuana is one thing – THC oil has certain benefits, especially in preventing nausea during chemotherapy, and CBD, which is not mind-altering, has been shown to help kids and teens with seizures – but smoking marijuana doesn’t have any real positive benefits, and is more likely to result in substance dependence, memory problems, and lung damage. Helping a teen understand why they continue to smoke despite negative consequences is a crucial part of overcoming marijuana abuse.

Group Therapy – Certain forms of group therapy, especially family therapy, can be incredibly effective for teens struggling with marijuana abuse. Family therapy can help a therapist further address and understand what role the home environment plays in a teen’s condition, while giving tips to family members on how to help a teen continue to stay on the right path towards recovery long after their initial program is over. On that topic, residential treatment helps many teens get that initial leg up on their addiction that they may need to ultimately conquer it.

Residential Treatment – Sometimes, the best treatment for dependence is time. Marijuana dependency is not as strong as many other more addictive drugs, but a series of complicated factors can influence a teen to seek out weed as a solution to their problems, instead of getting the right help that they need to sort themselves out. Taking a time out at a professional rehab facility can help give a teen the time to address their mental health and formulate a healthier way to cope with life.

Teen Marijuana Abuse Treatment at Paradigm Treatment

For teenagers who are abusing marijuana, teen marijuana abuse treatment should address the underlying motivating factors or needs that lead a person to smoke it in the first place. At Paradigm Treatment, taking a holistic approach isn’t just recommended, we consider it necessary.

Drug Treatment at Paradigm Treatment – Withdrawal from regular marijuana use can often be uncomfortable and difficult but is not as extreme as some other substances. Paradigm Treatment helps teens through these symptoms, and then works with them to address the effects that marijuana have had on their life. From there, we help each teen develop new strategies and habits toward addressing their stressors or conflicts in life, without turning back to the drug.

Getting Back into It – Life after addiction isn’t that much different for most teens, but the lack of a major coping mechanism can make it very difficult to deal with a growing number of emotional challenges as a teen makes the transition into adulthood. Because some of marijuana’s most prominent effects can be related to life responsibilities, Paradigm Treatment can help a teen get back on track. This can be especially helpful for a teenager who might perceive these challenges as too overwhelming to face.

My son went to this program. It was INCREDIBLE!!! We were able to get him on track with communicating better and teaching him that drugs are not part of his future. He feels more and more empowered each time he says NO! His communication skills with our family has improved greatly. We appreciate knowing we can always go to Paradigm for help if needed! Their family support is top notch. Working the program with your child is the best way to heal the pain and miscommunication. I personally feel they deserve higher than 5 stars!

– Wendy M.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana Abuse

Teen marijuana abuse is so common that it can be easy to overlook the possible negative effects and consequences of using. But the facts are simple. Marijuana use at an early age often correlates with serious mental illnesses and other neurological consequences, and there are several studies showing that marijuana use affects and even damages the brain in some cases. Furthermore, minors aren’t allowed to handle or smoke marijuana. The legal consequences alone should be off-putting, even if you’re just smoking for fun. Lastly, you may not be aware of how your use has affected other parts of your life, even if originally, your intentions seemed harmless. It’s often only after the fact that we realize how our actions have affected others, especially if the consequences are long in the making.

Marijuana has been legal in most of the country for medical use, with some heavy strings attached. Meanwhile, only a few states have legalized recreational use. Partially, this is due to the fact that despite the risk, marijuana is a massively popular drug with no risk of overdose. It causes less death and has a lower negative impact on the economy than currently legal drugs such as nicotine and alcohol, and thus, the criminalization of marijuana puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on many people who are arguably doing less damage to society than if they were drinking or smoking a cigarette. Many have advocated for the decriminalization of marijuana simply as a way to stop the unnecessary jailing and unjust treatment of people, outside of their marijuana use, are no threat to society.

That does not make it healthy, or smart. It’s true that the substance has been reported to have positive medicinal effects for people with certain ailments, but smoking marijuana is never a viable way to achieve these positive effects. Furthermore, THC is still a psychoactive chemical even when consumed as an oil and needs to be treated with caution, even if administered for medicinal reasons.

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