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Addiction Marijuana

Marijuana Use and Early Puberty: New Study

The legalization of pot for both medicinal and recreational purposes in a number of states has raised concerns that users will begin to view this substance as safe and even beneficial. This trend may be particularly troubling among young users, particularly since marijuana has been linked to impaired brain development and function. Now, a new study has found that marijuana use at a young age may also lead to early puberty, while stunting growth in young men.

Marijuana, Growth and Puberty
Researchers from Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan compared 217 boys with marijuana use disorders to 220 non-smoking boys. They focused on differences in puberty and growth hormones, using blood tests to determine the precise level of hormones in all of the test subjects. The scientists also measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol, using saliva samples from some of the marijuana users.

The study found that hormones related to puberty, including testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) were at higher levels in the marijuana users than in the non-smoking group. This finding indicates that puberty may come at an earlier age for the marijuana users, since the hormones were present earlier. These findings are concerning for a number of reasons, including the fact that early puberty has been linked to a younger onset of drinking and smoking.

At the same time, researchers found a decrease in the levels of growth hormones in the marijuana using group. When the marijuana-using subjects were checked again at the age of 20, they were found to be an average of 4.6 inches shorter and nine pounds lighter than their non-smoking counterparts.

Marijuana and Stress
Researchers also found elevated levels of cortisol in the boys that used marijuana regularly. The scientists theorized that the increase in the stress hormone may be a factor in the suppression of growth and the stimulation of early puberty. The findings may also support previous studies that indicate marijuana may actually exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, rather than alleviating them.

The Prevalence of Marijuana Use
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the U.S. today. Nearly half of all Americans said they have tried marijuana, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 11.7 percent of eighth graders had used marijuana in 2014.

Legalization of the drug has led to mistaken perceptions that the drug is safe. However, like other illicit substances, marijuana can be habit-forming and lead to serious and long-term damage to the mind and body. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.

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Addiction Marijuana

Study Finds More People are Smoking Pot

A new study has found that pot use has been on the rise for the past decade, along with marijuana use disorders. While many have touted this drug as safe in recent years, primarily for the purpose of legalizing its use, statistics and studies continue to indicate those claims do not hold as much water as people would like to think. With more people smoking pot than ever before, it is important to educate yourself about the dangers associated with this drug and the possible ramifications of this legalization trend.

Marijuana Use Doubles, Study Finds
Researchers looked at data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which consisted of face-to-face individuals between 2001 and 2002 and again between 2012 and 2013. The interviews asked about marijuana use within the past year, as well as potential signs or a diagnosis of marijuana abuse or dependency. More than 43,000 responses were examined from 2001-2002 and more than 36,000 were assessed from 2012-2013.

The study found that marijuana use increased from four percent of adults in 2001-2002 to 10 percent in 2012-2013. At the same time, marijuana abuse increased from 1.5 percent to three percent, indicating the drug may be more addictive than legalization proponents claim. Increases were particularly noted among African-Americans, Hispanics and women. The age range for marijuana use also broadened, with increases seen among middle-aged adults and seniors.

Not Limited to Adults
While this recent study was limited to adults in the U.S., increased use among teens has also been noted. A report from the National Institutes of Health in 2013 found an increasing number of teenagers do not see marijuana as harmful, which has led to an increased use among this demographic as well. In 2003, around six percent of 12th graders said they had used pot, compared to 6.5 percent that said they used marijuana regularly in 2013. A growing number of teens have also determined that pot use is not harmful, a concerning statistic to those working with teens and adults struggling with marijuana abuse.

At the same time marijuana use is on the rise, legalization of the substance is spreading. Currently, 23 states have legalized pot for medicinal use, while four have legalized it for recreational use. Other states have legalizations questions on future ballots, indicating this issue is likely to become more widespread.

At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we have seen firsthand the toll marijuana abuse can take on teen and their families. We offer treatment programs to help teens overcome their substance addiction and discover new life in sobriety. To get help today, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.

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Addiction Adolescence Recovery

Predicting Adolescent Recovery

A new study has identified a factor that can help to predict the success of adolescent recovery after substance addiction. Researchers have discovered that mastery of one’s thinking could help to predict reduced use of substances like marijuana and cocaine over time. This new study could shed light on how brain function might impact addiction treatment and recovery. It might also provide clues in how utilizing a reward system could improve the outcome of the recovery process for some teens and adults.

Measuring Inhibitory Control
Taking control over one’s thinking processes is guided by areas of the frontal lobe of the brain. While the activation of these areas can be measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it cannot be accurately measured by behavioral testing. Instead, scientists used a cognitive test, known as antisaccadic test evaluation, which provided a more thorough assessment of inhibition control. Researchers were also able to add another factor to this evaluation – financial reward – to determine the effect these types of rewards had on impulse control.

The study, which was published in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, found that adolescents with greater inhibition control were less likely to have a substance use disorder or SUD. However, adolescents were also able to increase their inhibition control through a positive reward system that was based on their performance. This was the case regardless of other factors like the amount of alcohol consumed or the symptoms of SUD.

Young Males Subject of Study
A total of 14 teens were included in this study, with subjects averaging 17 years of age. The large majority (93 percent) were Caucasian and nearly three-fourths were male. All of the test subjects had average IQ levels, 29 percent met the criteria for ADHD, 43 percent for conduct disorder and 21 percent for major depressive disorder. Study outcomes were based on frequency and total days of substance use, as well as substance use six months after baseline.

Takeaways from this study include the fact that adolescents with greater activation of the area of the brain guiding inhibition control tended to see better results in their efforts to overcome their SUDs. Those the received performance-based rewards could improve their inhibition control to help them overcome an SUD. Overall, this study may help those working in addiction recovery to better understand the workings of the adolescent brain and their ability to succeed in SUD intervention. This knowledge can ensure the proper tools are employed during treatment to ensure a higher quality success rate in the recovery process overall.

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Addiction Adolescence Marijuana

What is “Dabbing”?

Dabbing, a new way of getting “high” from the active ingredient in marijuana, is quickly gaining popularity today, particularly with the younger crowd of marijuana users. The highly concentrated oil is nearly as dangerous to make as it is to smoke, raising serious concerns about the rising fad. For those concerned about the marijuana use of friends or loved ones, there are some facts about dabbing you need to know.

What are “Dabs”?
Dabs, also known as butane hash oil or BHO, are waxy concentrates created by extracting THC – the active ingredient in marijuana. Extraction is done using butane, which is a highly flammable gas. The extract left from the process is up to four times more potent than standard marijuana, producing a more powerful high with a very small amount of the substance.

Dabbing has actually been around for a number of decades, but only recently has it come into popularity with regular drug users. Now, those interested in dabbing can find information on social media and YouTube videos, presenting a serious danger for DIY dabbers that try to make the substance at home.

Dangerous Extraction
Because the process of extraction is done using highly flammable materials, there have been numerous reports of explosions and fires involving those that have tried to make the substance in their homes. In addition, the extraction process is far from an exact science, which leaves the user unsure of the additional ingredients that might make their way into the dabs. These substances might include dangerous chemicals and gases, including residual butane and benzene.

Powerful Drug
THC concentrations found in dabbing can be as much as 90 percent, while concentrations of THC in standard marijuana are closer to 10-15 percent. This potent mix has led to hallucinations, unconsciousness and hospital visits for some users. Because the high is so strong, most that begin dabbing will be unable to go back to herbal marijuana and get a satisfactory high. This may lead some dabbers to move to other types of drugs in an effort to mimic the effects.

There are also concerns that the potency of dabbing can lead to tolerance of the drug, which means more of the substance will be needed to achieve the same effects. Tolerance to drugs can also lead to abuse and dependency over time.

As concerns about dabbing continue to grow, legalization of marijuana in many states for both medicinal and recreational purposes only serves to feed the worry. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse of any kind, we can help. Contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.