The Long-Term Effects of Dabbing

Cannabis dabbing is an emerging trend that utilizes sticky resin or residue to create a stronger high. Cannabis dabbing enables teens to extract higher concentrations of THC from the same amount of cannabis than through conventional smoking. This can have long-term effects on teens and adults alike. 

Dabbing refers to inhaling the smoke of a concentrated “dab” of cannabis oil or cannabis resin, which typically amounts to a much higher concentration of THC from the same plant or amount of dried cannabis. Dabs can be prepared alone or purchased from specialty shops, and usually have a sticky brown appearance, like sap or resin.

A dab is prepared through a variety of different methods, and each will have their own levels of THC concentration. Some cannabis enthusiasts design or sell devices built to extract a specific kind of residue from dried cannabis for dabbing. Others purchase dabs from stores that manufacture them from their own product.

Some of the methods of acquiring a cannabis dab can be dangerous, but the main health risk of dabbing is the inhalation of a much higher concentration of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis, and it is what gives cannabis its characteristic high. 

While THC cannot cause death by overdose, excessive amounts of THC consumption can trigger high levels of anxiety, or trigger a psychotic episode (as in, symptoms of psychosis, such as disorientation, dissociation, and hallucination). Higher concentrations of THC can also put users in danger if they try to drive or operate heavy machinery. 

Dabbing is growing in popularity among young adults and teens. While recreational marijuana usage is selectively legalized in the United States, there are still health risks associated with long-term cannabis usage, and it is illegal for teens to purchase or use marijuana. Nevertheless, teens with access to the drug may use cannabis dabs rather than smoking the dried material itself. 

How is Dabbing Performed? 

There is no specific standard for isolating the resin or oil in cannabis, although multiple different methods have sprung up over recent years. Dabbing is an umbrella term that refers to the inhalation of most cannabis concentrates, usually through heating up the concentrate directly or indirectly, and inhaling the resulting vapors. 

Cannabis concentrates can be prepared through water-based processing, dry processing, dry ice-based processing, and solvent-based processing. Solvent-based processing utilizes different chemicals, most commonly lighter fluid (butane), but also ether, alcohol, or propane. Some people use a nonflammable solvent, such as carbon dioxide. 

Solvent-based preparation methods are popular because they are relatively simple to execute at home. They require the use of a tube, a solvent, and a filtering device. The dried cannabis is inserted in a tube and mixed with a solvent, and most of the solvent is removed through the filter to leave behind the residue once finished. The resulting residue is mostly free from the solvent because most volatile solvents evaporate completely over time, leaving only the concentrate behind. 

Butane-prepared cannabis concentrate is also known as butane hash oil and has a variety of common names such as amber, black glass, wax, shatter, budder, or butane honey oil. Some of these names differ depending on the color and consistency of the resulting product – it can vary from runny, to waxy, to crystalline. 

Once the cannabis concentrate is created or acquired, it can be lit and consumed in a variety of ways. Some involve using a blowtorch to heat water and create a vapor stream to heat the concentrate on a specialized dish. Others utilize heated metal, such as a nail or curling iron, to create a vapor. There are also electronic devices specifically designed for cannabis concentrates. Different temperatures create different kinds of vapor or smoke. 

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Dabbing?

There are a number of concerns and risks associated with dabbing. The first and most severe risk is the risk of fire. While instructions for creating solvent-based dabs are available throughout the internet, improper handling of a solvent is a serious fire hazard. 

There have been reports of multiple deaths due to improper preparation of a cannabis dab at home. Improper storage of cannabis for creating concentrates can also result in the inhalation or ingestion of dangerous microbes and fungi. Furthermore, improper dabbing can also involve solvent inhalation. Inhaling solvents can be dangerous for the brain and lungs. 

Why High Levels of THC Are Dangerous

Aside from the risks of preparing cannabis concentrates, the consumption of cannabis dabs can also be harmful. Some teens are more susceptible to the risks of psychosis via high concentrations of THC and may not realize that consuming concentrated THC may trigger their symptoms. 

There is also medical literature detailing acute and chronic lung impairment due to butane hash oil consumption, as well as damage to the heart. 

Research also shows that repetitive consumption of high levels of THC can impair cognition and cause short-term memory loss. Teenage brains may be more susceptible to these risks, due to being in development. While rare, recurring cannabis usage can also lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, depression, tremors, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. 

Cannabis is generally seen as a safer drug than alcohol or other hard drugs. But dabbing enables people to consume far higher concentrations of THC than normal, whereas THC levels in cannabis products have already been increasing rapidly over the past two decades. Teens today have access to far more THC than previous generations, and these new methods can prove dangerous in both the short- and long-term. 

If you or someone you know is frequently consuming concentrated cannabis, be sure that they understand the risks, especially if they are underage. Teens mistake cannabis as being risk-free, but it can result in both psychological and physical damage. 

We at Visions help teens through our residential treatment programs. If your teen has been struggling to stop using cannabis, we can work with them to help them overcome their addiction. Give us a call today to find out more.  


The Signs and Side Effects of Dabbing

If you’ve ever had a foot in the door of modern marijuana culture, you might have heard about the hype surrounding dabbing and might be worried about the potential side effects of dabbing, especially versus other forms of marijuana consumption. 

In essence, a dab is a small amount of concentrated cannabis consumed via a specialized device or homemade dabbing setup. Dabbing involves the use of cannabis rosin, the distilled concentration of a cannabis bud’s sap, usually through a heating element like an iron, or more sophisticated methods, such as extracting the oil through a pressurized, high-temperature setup. It’s named a dab because all it takes is just a small amount or a “dab”. 

To someone with a lot of experience smoking pot, dabbing might be considered a “step up”, as it isolates the psychoactive element of cannabis, THC. Among inexperienced or first-time users, the results of a dab will usually be different and more severe than a blunt or a joint. However, teens and adults who regularly dab are consuming much higher amounts of THC than most. The side effects of dabbing may range from a potent but short-term high to an increase in anxiety, or even dissociation, psychosis, and an increased risk of addiction. 

Common Side Effects of Dabbing

To bring it to a point, dabbing involves the consumption of concentrated cannabis, utilizing a fairly simple method (usually heating a dried bud or flower) to extract and smoke a sticky resin with a much higher concentration of THC than normal.

The use of THC can make operating heavy machinery – like driving a car – dangerous and life-threatening. It can also affect memory and problem-solving, with both short-term and long-term negative effects on cognition after long use. 

While not a hallucinogen, high levels of THC have also been linked to exacerbating the risk of an episode of psychosis. THC use can be dangerous for teens or people with a history of dissociative disorders or conditions such as schizophrenia. In even larger doses – which is hard to do with the raw plant, but much easier to do with dabbing – the use of THC can even result in hallucinations and a loss of personal identity

How To Identify a Dabbing Setup

There are dedicated products and paraphernalia designed to facilitate dabbing, whether to help convert the wax or “shatter” (a glass-like form of concentrated marijuana) into its inhalable vapor, or to help extract wax or cannabis rosin from a bud or plant. 

Something to watch out for is a dab rig. This usually involves a glass pipe with a metal element for heating. A blowtorch or lighter is used to heat the metal until it becomes red hot, at which point the concentrate can be applied to the metal, and the resulting vapors can be inhaled through the glass. A metal tool, like a dental pick or dental scraper, is used to apply the dab to the heated metal on the rig. 

Certain dabbing pens are designed to heat a dab when inserted into the pen and look much like any other form of vape or e-cigarette. In these cases, it’s important to keep an eye out for extraction tools or a small vial or case of concentrate. 

On the most basic level, teens can create marijuana wax with household objects, such as a flat iron and some parchment paper. More advanced and dangerous forms of extraction include butane hash oil extraction. Both a heating element and a pressurized vacuum are required, making it an involved and volatile process, with multiple instances of property damage, injury, and even death due to butane canister explosions. 

What Are the Special Risks of Dabbing? 

For those who willingly go through the trouble of dabbing, the touted benefits from a consumer standpoint include a stronger flavor, quicker onset of the targeted high, and the argument that inhaling the vapors of an extract is safer than the burnt hot smoke of a joint or blunt, which can cause buildup in the lungs.

But as with any strong psychoactive drug, higher levels of THC can introduce a considerable risk for the nervous system, especially in teens. While not toxic, THC temporarily disrupts parts of the brain responsible for coordination and concentration, as well as time perception and cognition. 

Teen Substance Abuse Treatment 

At Visions, we often hear parents ask about the specific health risks associated with dabbing, over other methods of cannabis consumption. 

It’s important to remember that drugs can enter the bloodstream through a variety of different methods, but certain methods will result in a higher concentration of a given drug in the body than others. Eating will result in less of a drug entering the bloodstream than inhaling or injecting the same amount, for example. 

Unlike edibles or orally consumable cannabis oils, dabbing allows teens to smoke and inhale concentrated THC. In both experienced and inexperienced users, this can result in a higher likelihood of severe or negative side effects than other methods of cannabis consumption and may increase the risk of addiction. 

We also receive questions about dependence. Yes, marijuana dependence does exist, and cannabis can be addictive. Generally speaking, consuming more potent drugs will increase the risk of dependence. 

As for how long the side effects of dabbing last, that depends on the amount that was used, the concentration of THC in the original plant, as well as the user’s own experience and tolerance for cannabinoids. 

If you’re worried about a loved one’s drug use or want to talk to a professional about treatment options or staging an intervention, get in touch with us at Visions to learn more about our marijuana treatment programs, our treatment modalities for drug use, and co-occurring disorders, as well as our residential treatment options for teens. 


Dabbing is nothing new, but it may be on the rise as dab rigs and dab pens become more readily available, making it easier to consume concentrated cannabis without a self-engineered setup. Parents and teens worried about the side effects of dabbing should beware that it can result in a higher risk of addiction, as well as a greater risk of psychosis than other forms of marijuana consumption. 


What to Do if You Find Your Teenager Smoking Weed

So, you found out that your teen is using weed. Maybe you’ve suspected it for a while but weren’t sure. Or maybe you had no idea and caught them in the act, or heard about it from a friend of theirs, or a teacher. Or, less likely, but best of all: your teen told you. 

Regardless of your personal feelings towards marijuana, there are undeniable risks associated with marijuana use among teens.

For one, there’s the risk of legal repercussions. Then, there are the actual effects of marijuana use among teens. While weed is less addictive than nicotine or alcohol, there is an undeniable amount of evidence that points toward the long-term cognitive and psychological impact of marijuana use among teens.

Furthermore, smoking weed – as opposed to eating it, or using cannabis oils – still poses a risk to the lungs, even if inhaled in vapor form (bongs or vaping devices). 

But while these worries are justified, expressing them erratically or jumping to angry judgment may alienate your teen from you, destroy the opportunity for dialogue, and affect your chances of helping them seek treatment if necessary. 

Why It’s Important to Stay Calm

An estimated 37 percent of high school students have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. Very few of them went on to struggle with long-term addiction, whether to marijuana or any other substance. 

While being vigilant is important, especially if you had no idea your teen was using drugs of any kind, it’s also important not to blow things out of proportion or risk pushing your teen away in an emotional tirade. 

For one, reacting angrily or with any amount of vitriol will discourage your teen from coming forward with any information about what they’ve been doing. You’re effectively telling your teen: “Don’t tell me the truth, I will freak out”. 

It’s normal to feel anxious or freaked out. It’s also normal to feel angry in these circumstances. Even if you aren’t particularly worried about the long-term impact of a single instance of youthful experimentation, any parent would be upset about the risk their teen has taken, or the fact that they probably did so in total secret. 

But teens aren’t the most rational or understanding individuals. If you reflect their decision to tell you – or the revelation itself – with an emotional outburst, their first instinct will be to act defensive, and resolve not to tell you about anything else they’ve done in fear of retaliation. 

Think things through. First, you will need to understand the extent of your teen’s drug use. You will need to know how bad things have gotten, and the complete scope of the issue. That’s impossible without winning and keeping your teen’s trust. And that means letting them know that you’re not here to judge them, but to help them. 

There’s No Point in Blame

When something bad happens, our first instinct is to understand why it happened. More to the point, we want someone or something to blame. Sadly, things rarely ever pan out in such a way that a single person or factor can realistically take all of the blame. There are a million nuanced factors that affect a person’s judgment in any given time, especially the judgment of a teenager, which can vary wildly from moment to moment. 

The decision to try a drug like marijuana as a teenager is based on movies and pop culture, parental feelings and history towards drug use, peer choices, individual susceptibility to social pressure, a teen’s sense of self-worth and identity among the community, victimization, personal popularity, their mental state at the time, a teen’s personality and ability to assess risk, knowledge of drugs and their effects, and attitudes towards authority. 

Rather than figure out which factor among a list of potential factors was the most important, it may be more productive to concentrate on protective factors which help reduce a teen’s likelihood of drug use.

These include the following:

  • Better coping mechanisms for social and school-based stressors.
  • Access to mental health resources at school and in the community.
  • A closer bond with the community.
  • A positive parent-child relationship.
  • Positive parental involvement in a teen’s interests, hobbies, and school life.
  • Better and more accurate drug education.

Protective factors aren’t just relevant before teens try drugs. They continue to be relevant even in the treatment of addiction, where they can help a teen focus on sobriety and recovery. 

Why Teens Aren’t Worried About Marijuana

Context matters. When we hear of a string of violent crimes, we don’t take into consideration that news media has changed our perception of the world around us, leading us to forget that, while the streets seem less safe, they’re statistically safer than ever before, especially for kids. 

In that vein, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that today’s generation is using fewer drugs than previous generations, and is less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex or drunk driving. 

Marijuana is an exception. While kids are smoking less, drinking less, and using less ecstasy, they’re still smoking weed at a steady rate. In fact, marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the US. Nearly every fifth person in the country smoked weed at some point by 2019. 

There may be a few reasons why teens aren’t that worried about weed. For one, weed has been massively criminalized and weed use has been disproportionately punished for decades, specifically targeting people of color. Teens today are more aware of the US’ history of racial prejudice, and the role that the war on drugs played in continuing to widen the chasm of opportunity between white and black citizens

The exaggerations of the effects of marijuana on the mind and body during the DARE era, and the adult hypocrisy of the widespread usage of marijuana despite fearmongering of its properties as a gateway drug also served to seriously disarm a lot of the arguments against marijuana usage. 

Teens were never really afraid of weed and most of the tactics designed to heighten that fear resulted in no effect or higher rates of marijuana use. That tells us something very important: teens will continuously question what you tell them, especially if they feel like it attempts to cover up a hypocrisy of some sort.  

When addressing your teen’s weed usage, don’t exaggerate or lie. Stick to what’s true: long-term use of marijuana impacts memory and cognition, effectively reducing intelligence, and even raising the risk of symptoms of depression and anxiety. While it may not be as addictive as heroin or pose anywhere near the same immediate risk of overdose as fentanyl, it’s not a safe substance, especially for someone at the very beginning of their entire adult life.

Consider a Professional Intervention

Many kids never try drugs. Some kids really do try a drug once or twice, and then never again. Some kids smoke or drink for a while but quit when college gets rough, and their focus on studies cuts into social time. Others struggle much more with their drug use, to the point that they begin developing signs of addiction.

It’s important to keep an eye out for these signs and to consider a professional intervention, sooner rather than later.

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Is CBD for Teens Safe?

We’ve all heard of CBD, which has grown quite popular amongst adults. But what is it? Is CBD for teens safe? And how is it different from marijuana substance use?

While only one CBD product is medically prescribed under very few circumstances – two rare forms of childhood epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – they have seen a multitude of off-label uses over the last few years, and CBD products have hit the shelves advertising a vast number of potential benefits, from performance-enhancement to soothing anxiety, improving mood, and even managing symptoms of autism.

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

At its core, CBD (cannabidiol) is a hemp- or marijuana-derived cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are a class of substances that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, sharing a similar chemical makeup to some of our own neurotransmitters. Cannabinoid receptors are a feature of the nervous system in most animals.

As a result, cannabinoids can affect the brain – and body – in different ways. Unlike other similar plant-derived compounds such as opium, cocaine, or even caffeine, CBD is not considered “psychoactive,” meaning it does not cause an altered state of mind or induce a sense of euphoria.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC, another cannabinoid, is responsible for the “high” that marijuana use induces. Some hemp plants are also primarily designed and genetically altered to reduce or eliminate the production of THC while retaining CBD. When CBD is extracted from a low-THC plant, it may still contain traces of THC. This is primarily the difference between isolate CBD (separated from other phytocannabinoids) and full-spectrum CBD (potential for low amounts of THC).

CBD in Foods and Supplements

Marketing CBD in a supplement or foodstuff is still illegal in the United States. Nevertheless, CBD products are becoming popular, especially online. Because the supplement market is not regulated as strictly as the pharmaceutical market, the only truly isolated CBD product is prescribed CBD or Epidiolex.

Other sources of CBD may be marketed as virtually THC-free on the Internet, but you would need to check with a lab to verify this.

Prescription CBD for Children

As a prescription drug, CBD’s current FDA-approved usage is primarily for children.

But that does not mean CBD for teens or adults is safe to use under most circumstances, especially because many CBD products retain the risk of containing low amounts of THC. But is that even a danger in and of itself? Here’s what we know.

How Does CBD Affect Teens?

In its purest form, CBD is a compound that interacts with similar receptors in the brain as THC, albeit very differently. While more research is being funded on the topic, the exact mechanism of action for CBD’s neurological effects is still unknown. Furthermore, the quality of the research behind CBD is often poor or leads to inconclusive results.

Some studies indicate that using CBD for teens with autism has a positive effect on reducing symptoms of anxiety, improving behavior and calmness, and dealing with symptoms of psychosis in individuals with schizophrenia.

FDA and Off-Label Use

But while FDA approval was reached for the use of CBD for rare forms of epilepsy, the FDA does not recommend any other off-label use for the drug, and there isn’t enough concrete evidence to support the idea that the use of CBD is beneficial in any significant way. Marketing hype, internet influencers, and online anecdotes remain the core of what drives CBD’s popularity.

Medical Supervision and CBD

That may not be enough to completely dismiss CBD’s usage for some. If you are interested in trying CBD yourself or as a potential anti-anxiety alternative for a loved one, it is important to try it under the supervision of a trusted physician.

In addition to helping you locate a higher-quality source of isolated CBD, a medical professional would also be able to guide you on dosage and advise against the use of CBD in conjunction with competing medication due to potential liver toxicity. Contraindicative medication aside, however, the side effects and short-term risks of CBD use are low.

On the other hand, the long-term risks of CBD for teens and adults remain unknown.

How is CBD Sold?

Outside of prescription medication, CBD is mostly sold in the form of an additive to baked goods and beverages or in the form of oil, candy, or transdermal patches.

CBD in foodstuff can be dangerous because it is virtually impossible to tell how much you are receiving in any given portion, and because CBD partially reconverts to THC under high heat.

Oil capsules, gummies, and transdermal patches provide a more accurate dosage, with patches providing the most consistent long-term delivery via the skin. However, the efficacy of any given CBD product lies entirely in how accurate the dosage is and the quality of the CBD, down to the level to which it is isolated from THC and other cannabinoids. Without proper regulation, you are left to make a choice on your own judgment.

Is CBD for Teens as Dangerous as Marijuana?

To use a different example – cocaine is a highly addictive, highly dangerous, and illegal drug. Most people know that cocaine is dangerous, and it has developed a deserved reputation as a party drug.

Did you also know that cocaine is primarily derived from a plant? And that millions of people consume part of this plant every day? To this day, decocainized coca plants continue to play an elemental role in the production of one of the world’s most popular products: Coca-Cola.

While Coca-Cola would famously contain a few grams of cocaine per bottle in years past, the modern-day incarnation of the drink still contains an extract from the same plant that cocaine is made from.

Without its addictive alkaline, the coca leaf is not dangerous. Nevertheless, decocainized coca leaf extract production is highly regulated, and only one company in the world supplies the multinational Coca-Cola company with the ingredient it uses in its soda. The other crucial ingredient is the kola nut, which provides the drink with its only psychoactive compound: caffeine.

Similarly, research shows that hemp has its benefits once you eliminate the psychoactive THC.

But is it also harmless? Truth be told, the jury is still out on that subject.

Marijuana is Still Illegal

Marijuana continues to be a federally scheduled drug, and it is still illegal in most parts of the United States and has been since 1970. This means that while much progress has been made in researching THC and CBD in recent years, it’s still difficult to secure funding for proper studies, which means there is a lot we don’t know about the long-term uses of marijuana-based products, especially cannabinoids like CBD.

While a decocainized coca leaf no longer carries any cocaine, cannabinoids like CBD do interact with the brain, mimicking some of our own neurotransmitters, which is why it sees potential as an anti-anxiety and anti-epileptic compound.

Do Your Research

At the end of the day, teens and parents alike should beware that CBD research is still relatively in its infancy, and off-label uses for CBD – whether to treat anxiety, autism, or acne – should be seen as early evidence at best rather than concrete proof. More time is needed to learn about CBD’s potential, its mechanism of action, as well as its side effects – especially in younger teens.

If you have questions about CBD for teens, always reach out to a trusted medical professional.

For more information about teen mental health disorders, visit Visions Treatment Centers.

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Understanding Teen Marijuana Use and its Effects

From its depiction in pop culture to worldwide discussions surrounding decriminalization and legalization, marijuana use has been a central point of discussion in both policy and household arguments for generations. Yet the question remains in the minds of many – is it dangerous? And if so, how dangerous? Furthermore, what about teen marijuana use and its effects on adolescents?

While it is still a Schedule I drug, marijuana cannot quite be compared in the same vein as heroin or cocaine. Years of research have shown us that it is impossible to overdose on a drug like pot, and statistically speaking, it does not have the addictive potential of “harder” illicit substances. For comparison’s sake, marijuana is still named in the same breath as ecstasy and LSD, while schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, meth, and Ritalin.

But that does not make it a harmless substance, nor does it relegate marijuana to the likes of nutritional supplements or minor over-the-counter medication. Marijuana has a psychoactive effect on the brain, can be linked to cases of addiction, and can have long-term consequences for heavy or chronic use, especially in teens, who are more prone to the effects of mind-altering substances.

Is Marijuana Dangerous for Teens?

Marijuana, pot, or cannabis, is a drug derived from the cannabis plant, usually split into two major variants: Sativa and Indica.

Marijuana Strains

There are countless different popular strains of marijuana, each of which features different concentrations of CBD and THC, two of the main chemical components that give marijuana its mind-altering properties. In general, THC is considered the “active ingredient” in marijuana, while isolated CBD lacks the components needed to create a “high.”

Marijuana today is more potent, meaning it has a higher concentration of THC than in previous decades. This makes the drug more powerful, but grown, and harvested marijuana is still limited in its effects on the human brain.

Side Effects of Teen Marijuana Use

We do not know if marijuana use, even at a high level, leaves a permanent mark on the brain the same way alcohol, meth, or cocaine does.

Overall Long-Term Effects

But we do know that both the short-term and long-term consequences of THC in early adulthood and adolescent years include short-term memory loss, negative impact on cognition and coordination, poor time perception, and lowered attention.

In other words, even by the most conservative estimates, marijuana use affects a teen’s ability to do well at school by interfering with their memory and capacity for problem-solving.

Risk-Taking and Lowered Inhibition

Because marijuana is a psychoactive drug, it also affects risk-taking attitudes and natural inhibition, meaning that people who use marijuana are more likely to get into risky situations, accidents, and engage in unprotected sex, which makes the transmission of STDs more likely.

Teen Marijuana Use and Driving

The effects of marijuana on driving are less apparent. Studies that do point towards a greater likelihood of impairment show low to moderate effect sizes. Marijuana may increase reaction times (i.e., it takes longer for you to react to something on the road) and increase lane weaving, but also improve following distance. One way or another, it’s still clear that any and all mind-altering substances, from alcohol to pot to an inordinate amount of caffeine, increase the risk of a crash on the road.

Lack of Focus in School

If your teen is using pot, at the very best, it may be affecting their ability to focus on school and retain information learned between lessons – even if they aren’t using the drug on school premises. The CDC notes that adolescent marijuana use can also affect the development of the brain in negative ways, affecting teens later in adulthood.

Mental Health and Teen Marijuana Use

At the very worst, high levels of marijuana use may be a sign of something worse – such as self-medication for anxiety issues, or an emotional crutch, repressing their actual, urgent mental health problems.

Some studies also indicate that teens with a family history of schizophrenia and other acute psychotic mental health issues are more likely to experience an episode of psychosis if they use marijuana frequently. If your teen is often high, there may be more going on than just some light experimenting between friends.

Is Teen Marijuana Use Increasing?

While drug use has dropped significantly across nearly all substances among children and adolescents, the two major exceptions are vaping and marijuana.

At least part of the reason for this growth in use comes from the increased acceptance of marijuana as a recreational drug as a whole. However, it’s clear to most adults that there is a distinction between considering legalization and making pot available to teens.

Many teens might not be considering the dangers of pot use at their age because they aren’t aware that marijuana can affect developing brains differently than fully-developed brains, or they might not consider that the long-term consequences of pot use during school time might affect their ability to finish school and launch into their work lives.

As of about 2019, more than one in three high school students in the US has tried marijuana, and one in five has used the drug as recently as last month (when surveyed). Mental distress from increased anxiety, victimization, or identifying as LGBTQ+ (and the stress that accompanies an undisclosed or unaccepted gender identity) was also linked to increased rates of marijuana use, highlighting the danger of marijuana as a common maladaptive coping mechanism for teens in need of effective mental health resources.

Recognizing Teen Marijuana Use

Some of the signs of teen marijuana use are classic and obvious, including its distinctive smell and common bloodshot eyes.

Sudden or strange changes in personality or behavior, including increased irritability and memory troubles, as well as a sharp increase in appetite, are also linked to marijuana use. Keep an eye out for common drug paraphernalia, including papers (to roll and smoke), loose tobacco, glass pipes, and the drug itself.

What Should I Do?

Talk to your teen. They might not consider marijuana use particularly harmful, but just because the drug has been extremely vilified with false claims in past decades does not mean it is a good or healthy idea to smoke weed as a teen. Impaired memory and decision-making aside, pot smoking has a definite effect on lung health.

Be upfront about the effects of marijuana based on modern, impartial research, so your teen cannot refute your claims. Make sure they know that your concern stems from a concern for their emotional and physical well-being, and let them know that they can be open with you about the thoughts and worries that might be plaguing them and driving them to use marijuana more often these days.

In cases of constant use, consider speaking with a mental health professional or a therapist about a drug intervention or a treatment for marijuana use disorder in teens who can’t stop or refuse to stop using weed. Marijuana use disorder does occur and can be treated with a professional treatment plan.

Treatment for Teen Marijuana Use at Visions

For more information about treatment for teen marijuana use, give us a call at Visions Treatment Centers.

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10 Places Your Teen Can Hide Drugs

If you believe that your teen has been using drugs as of late, chances are that they have some with them at home. Where teens hide drugs are not always immediately obvious – you might not find a quarter ounce of weed stuffed away in a sock at the bottom of the drawer or in the pocket of their least favorite jacket – but there are only so many places you can hide drugs around a house.

While your teen might be more inventive than most, these tend to be the most common places your teen can hide drugs from snooping siblings and parents alike.

1. Scent-proofed Stashes

Not all drugs have a strong scent. Trained dogs can sniff out drugs like cocaine even amid a pile of dirty laundry, but the human nose is not that advanced. That being said, some popular drugs, like marijuana, in particular, have a very strong and distinctive scent. This narrows down a teen’s options.

The first, yet probably most obvious thing to do, is to bury the stash. The problem with doing so is that it’s pretty easy to tell when a hole has been freshly dug, and they’d have to signpost it somehow to avoid losing their weed. It’s still worth checking the backyard, though.

Other scent-proofed possibilities include large jars of coffee (coffee is a natural deodorant and has its own scent), empty roll-on deodorant sticks, inside an unused bag of pet food, or a permanent marker with a strong scent.

2. Video Game Consoles

Some consoles are a bit more infamous than others for providing great hiding opportunities. One disadvantage is that consoles are just like computers but optimized for space and performance. This means they can get quite hot, which isn’t ideal for some drugs. Checking your teen’s console might be tricky, as it can be fairly easy to damage.

There are plenty of tutorials online for removing the front panel of a video game console, whether it’s a Playstation, an Xbox, or an older Wii U. Portable consoles like the Switch or PS Vita are much more difficult to use as potential drug stashes, due to their compact nature. Old, unused, or broken consoles can be retrofitted into potential drug stashes, however, by removing key components. On a similar note, your teen’s PC tower might be another place to look.

3. The Backyard

We’ve mentioned burying drugs, but that isn’t the only option. A backyard is a place full of potential (and great) hiding spots. Hollow garden gnomes? Hollow spaces inside flowerpots? Under a slab in the rock garden? In the tool shed, hidden behind the fertilizer? The possibilities are endless – which makes the backyard one of the better hiding spots, provided it’s large enough to make searching difficult.

4. Personal Hygiene Products

Teens expect a little privacy from their parents, at least when it comes to what they use to get ready for the day. However, old and used containers or empty makeup kits make for a good hiding spot.

5. Their Car

It’s obvious but effective. Don’t just check on the floor or in the glovebox – drugs can be taped under the seat or dashboard or stashed under the hood.

6. Toilet Tank

The toilet tank is an all-time favorite. Simple, marginally gross, and easy to access.

7. Air Vents

Most modern homes no longer have these, but older homes and apartments do. Air vents are a pretty convenient place to stash anything that’s relatively small and doesn’t have a significant odor or can be placed in an odor-safe container. That means you likely won’t find weed in an air vent your teen has access to, but you might find – depending on the size of the vent and the space provided – alcohol, certain prescription pills, or cocaine.

An alternative yet similar hiding space is an unused air conditioning unit. Most older air conditioning units have an easily removable front panel and a little bit of space for hiding things.

8. Cookie and Candy Tins

Altoids have been making a comeback – not so much for the candy itself but for the nostalgic and aesthetic factor of the tin. In addition to cash, teens might also use Altoid tins to stash other valuables. The same goes for cookie tins, old candy tins, etc. 

9. Behind Posters

If the drug is in a powder form or can be easily flattened (such as a small plastic bag with a few pills), another good place to hide it would be behind a poster taped against the wall.

10. Inside Books

It’s not done very often, but people do still hollow out cavities in books they aren’t really a fan of and use that as a discrete hiding spot.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Even if your teen does not typically apply their full faculties to daily tasks and schoolwork, never underestimate a teenager’s capacity for innovation and inventiveness when it comes down to it.

Going Through Great Lengths to Hide Drugs

Teens understand that drugs are dangerous and that they shouldn’t use them frivolously. But oftentimes, they don’t care. Whether it’s because most teens have an immortality complex or because the long-term consequences of drug use are known, but simply don’t register in their minds, teens can and will go through great lengths to hide drugs or their drug use, especially if they live in an area where it’s both harder to get drugs, and where punishment for drug possession is greater.

What if You Don’t Find Anything?

If you don’t find your teen’s drug stash or think they might not be keeping any drugs at hand, after all, that does not necessarily mean they aren’t taking anything. If you catch your teen being high regularly without having any drugs at home, it can only mean one thing: they’re getting and using drugs while out with friends or acquaintances.

Suspicious Behavior Doesn’t Equal a Drug Problem

Last but not least, not all suspicious teen behavior is indicative of a drug problem. If you don’t have any conclusive proof that your teen is regularly using drugs, then their behavior could be explained in other ways. Irritability, pulling away from family, anxious or paranoid behavior, and memory problems can be caused by other conditions, including stress- or trauma-related anxiety. If your teen doesn’t want to talk about their problems and habits, consider speaking with a mental health professional about potential intervention tactics.

For more information, please contact Visions Treatment Centers. If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to us to learn more about residential treatment program options and much more.


What is Marijuana Use Disorder?

While drug use has continued to drop off in most age groups, marijuana has become more popular than ever and continues to be the most used federally illegal drug in the US.

However, just because it is federally illegal doesn’t mean it is completely off-limits – more than 16 states have legalized recreational marijuana, and over 30 states allow the use of medical marijuana, which is part of the reason why it continues to grow in usage in comparison to other substances.

There is a myriad of reasons why the legalization of marijuana is a good thing, especially in the context of the damage its criminalization has done to minority communities and the immense costs of the futile drug-on wars. But policy aside, marijuana remains a controlled substance federally and is prohibited for use among children and teens under 18 years of age.

There are multiple pieces of research pointing towards the long-term negative effects of marijuana use and the existence of marijuana use disorder. Just because it is becoming legal in multiple states doesn’t make it harmless – and just because some people argue that it is less dangerous than certain other substances doesn’t make it so.

Is Marijuana Dangerous?

Marijuana, or cannabis, is a product derived mostly from treated Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plants. Different strains come with different characteristic effects and flavors, but most of the differences between types of marijuana can be attributed to either being a Sativa strain or an Indica strain.

The main active component in either type of plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid with psychoactive effects. Modern-day cannabis is usually bred to produce more or less THC, depending on its uses. Aside from the raw product or treated and dried component, cannabis is also sold and consumed in the form of hash oil, hashish, hash butter, and hemp oil (low THC). In most cases, cannabis is harvested for its leaves and flowering buds.

The effects of THC vary from person to person, in both quality and severity. In general, marijuana use leads to relaxation and euphoria, increased appetite, giggling, and mild changes in visual and aural perception. Increased dosages or increased potency can lead to stronger and more potent changes in perception. Outside of high dosages or concentrated THC, these are relatively rare.

The dangers of marijuana come from both its long-term health problems, consuming both marijuana and alcohol, as well as its effects on perception.

People with pre-existing mental health problems, particularly episodes of psychosis, or a history of schizophrenia, are more likely to trigger a hallucinatory event when consuming marijuana. Marijuana may also make operating heavy machinery much more dangerous, like any intoxicating substance.

Because marijuana has a calming and physically depressive effect, it may compound uniquely with alcohol to induce a dangerous level of memory impairment, difficulty breathing, and paranoia. While most people experience euphoria while taking marijuana, it can also have the opposite effect in some cases, inducing high levels of stress and anxiety.

Finally, the long-term effects of marijuana are still being studied but may include decreased cognitive capacitymemory impairmentlung and throat problemsworsening symptoms of mental illness, and addiction.

There are no confirmed instances of a marijuana overdose, but marijuana can be an influencing factor in different causes of death, including polydrug-induced respiratory failure, vaping injuries or illnesses, and car accidents. Furthermore, high concentration THC marijuana can send people to the emergency room, but it’ll usually be due to severe levels of anxiety, psychotic episodes, or nausea.

First responders called when people take too much marijuana state that the cause is usually an edible rather than smoking the drug. Young children, however, are particularly at risk of eating an edible and becoming violently ill.

Medical Applications for Marijuana

CBD (cannabidiol) has seen much research as a potential medical drug and is legal under federal law. The first FDA-approved use of a cannabinoid was as an antiseizure drug in the treatment of epilepsy. So far, only one other cannabinoid has been approved for medical use, and that is dronabinol. While THC remains illegal, studies have shown that medical marijuana is potentially beneficial for:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cancer treatment-related nausea
  • Severe chronic pain

In most cases, medical marijuana may be bred to include lower levels of THC. State-specific qualifications for obtaining medical marijuana differ from state to state. If you do consider using marijuana for medical purposes, beware of its side effects and addiction potential.

How Much Marijuana is Too Much?

Like any other drug, it is impossible to determine a proper limiting dosage to prevent addictive effects. Some people can use marijuana on occasion for years and stop using it forever. Others might struggle to moderate their usage after a few months and end up dependent on the drug for decades.

If used at the behest of a medical professional, limit your dosage strictly to what is prescribed, even when using a low THC strain. Your own predisposition towards THC may be stronger or weaker than average, changing its relative dangerousness.

In any case, THC (and marijuana in general) is an addictive substance and an intoxicating substance.

Signs of Marijuana Use Disorder

Marijuana use disorder may occur in roughly 9 to 30 percent of people who use marijuana regularly. People who use the drug before the age of 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop an addiction. Marijuana use disorder has the same symptoms as other forms of a substance use disorder, namely:

  • Inability to quit (constant relapse)
  • Hiding marijuana use
  • Becoming defensive over their habit
  • Struggling at school or at work due to marijuana
  • Consuming marijuana much more frequently than normal

Withdrawal symptoms of marijuana include anxiety, loss of appetite, restlessness/insomnia, and irritability.

Seeking Treatment for Marijuana Use Disorder

Treatment for a marijuana use disorder is often necessary, as a common criterion for a substance use disorder is the inability to quit. Teens and adults with marijuana use problems can opt between inpatient or outpatient treatment depending on the severity of their case and their circumstances.

Treatment for a marijuana use disorder begins with detoxification and therapy. Behavioral support is an important element, rewarding people who stay drug-free and providing relevant motivational incentives.

While there are no medications to help treat marijuana use disorder, a patient who began using as a result of their mental health issues (self-medication) will be treated with medication and talk therapy to help them develop healthier coping skills and better long-term stress management options.


Long-Term Health Effects of Teen Cannabis Use Disorder

While society is becoming increasingly accepting of cannabis both medically and recreationally, and discussions around legalization are becoming more frequent, cannabis is not a strictly safe or harmless substance. There are clear dangers around its use, especially recreationally and especially for younger adults and teens. Despite its potential in treating nausea during chemotherapy and the host of benefits we may see through more research, long-term cannabis use is still destructive. It may impact both a teen’s cognitive and physical health.

Weighing the Dangers of Cannabis

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug with the potential for addiction and a host of long-term health issues associated with excessive and chronic use. While millions of Americans can use the drug occasionally and put it back down without any significant drawbacks, there are indications that it is not safe for everyone, and using the drug over years and decades may lead to a host of physical and psychological issues.

Some of the health issues associated with cannabis can be attributed to its psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol. However, cannabis also contains many other cannabinoids that bind to receptors in the body and affect cognitive function, heart function, and even bone health. The most significant risks associated with cannabis aside from addiction are an increased potential for symptoms of psychosis (as well as stronger symptoms in patients with psychotic disorders) and potential links to adverse long-term effects on cognition and long-term memory.

Whether or not cannabis is dangerous can depend on the quality and source of the drug, the method with which it is consumed (is it smoked along with tobacco? Consumed as an oil? Taken through a vape?), the frequency and degree to which cannabis is used, and individual factors such as a person’s hereditary risk factors towards addiction and drug use, and co-occurring mental health issues that might compound with cannabis use and worsen because of it.

Can Marijuana Use Lead to Addiction?

There is no question about whether cannabis can cause an addiction, where addiction is used to describe a substance use disorder characterized by continued use despite a negative impact on several aspects of one’s life and an inability to stop using without support, even when committed to quitting. Dependence, which includes withdrawal symptoms, is also commonly associated with a substance use disorder.

The question may be at what point long-term use becomes an addiction, how quickly cannabis can cause addiction (i.e., how addictive it is), and what risk factors specifically influence the risk of cannabis addiction. Data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests that up to 30 percent of people who use the drug may be diagnosed with cannabis use disorder. In particular, teens are four to seven times more likely to develop an addiction than adults.

Part of the reason why cannabis is potentially more addictive than it may have been in the past is that, due to the growing international market for the drug, as well as more significant investments in the development of stronger strains and better highs, the THC content within the cannabis has steadily increased for decades. Cannabis confiscated in the 1990s had a THC level of about 4 percent – this has since more than tripled to about 15 percent in 2018.

Depending on how cannabis is consumed, certain forms of consumption lead to greater THC bioavailability than others. While there are many other cannabinoids in cannabis, such as cannabidiol, THC is the ingredient responsible for the high and most often linked to addiction.

Signs of Teen Cannabis Use Disorder

The signs and symptoms that should be watched out for the most are increased resistance to the drug’s effects at the same dose and using more cannabis over time. Lack of will to stop using despite the negative impact on one’s social life and performance at work or school is another potential sign. Cannabis addiction is much more likely to occur in teens who:

    • Have trouble forming social connections
    • Lack a list of responsibilities or close relationships
    • Struggle with mental health issues

Drugs like alcohol and cannabis can act like magic bullets for a first-time drug user struggling with depression or anxiety – they make you feel better, help your worries melt away, or help you feel at ease. But these effects do not last for very long and are repeated, and long-term use can have severe consequences. Specific conditions that seem most likely to be linked to cannabis use disorder include:

Long-Term Effects of Teen Cannabis Use

The long-term effects of teen cannabis use are still being researched, but preliminary research reveals that long-term use of the drug can lead to:

Cognitive Effects

Cannabis’s long-term cognitive effects primarily consist of memory problems, the capacity to learn, and impulse control. Interestingly, different results are observed depending on whether the drug was used for the first time or over long periods. Additionally, cannabis has been linked to developing stronger symptoms of psychosis, particularly in patients with the following mental health conditions (but not limited to):

When no signs of psychosis were present previously, the condition is called a substance-induced psychotic disorder. Psychosis is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, dissociation, and odd/disordered thinking. It can be described as losing touch with reality.

Respiratory Effects

Depending on how the drug is ingested, cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including lung cancer, either through smoke inhalation or the long-term effects of a vaping-associated lung injury.

Addressing Teen Cannabis Use Disorder

If your teen is struggling to quit using cannabis or wants to useless and cannot, seeking professional help as early as possible may be the most effective way to combat the problem. Teen substance use disorders are best addressed through a combination of inpatient or outpatient treatment, which can include:

    • Detox and time spent in a drug-free environment
    • One-on-one and group therapy
    • Family therapy

Cannabis use disorder treatment can help teens develop an individualized toolset for identifying and addressing urges and cravings constructively through healthier coping mechanisms and a robust support system composed of friends, family, and community leaders.

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Drug Addiction in Youth: Common Misconceptions

The way we think about addiction has to change if we are ever going to make a difference as caretakers, confidants, friends and family members. More specifically, we should think differently about drug addiction in our youth and the common misconceptions about it. Only recently has the addiction community begun to develop specialized addiction treatment centers for teens struggling with dependency.

Visions Adolescent Treatment Center has fought for awareness of addiction and the difficulty it creates in these children’s lives. We have made it our purpose to share everything we can about addiction in adolescents from the earliest age of 12 because it should be a concern we address. You have a choice to open your eyes and see what we see every day. Don’t ignore the signs and assume nothing that can be done; there is, you just have to listen and see.

The common misconception of adolescent addiction are:

  • “My child tells me everything. They would never get involved in something like that.”

Most of the time our children will hold something back from us, no matter how well we think we know them. It’s important that we continue to work on our familial relationships and communication because if we don’t big changes like addiction can happen when we’re not. We should make sharing new experiences and thoughts comfortable and something we do each day at home. If your children and siblings are comfortable talking with you, then you will see any change as it happens and be able to reach out to them.

  • “You can only develop an addiction as an adult.”

This is a big misconception because trying something like alcohol at an early age or smoking a joint, can seem like just a thing that kids do. But, addiction can develop in children very early on in their lives; it can also be something bigger if you pay attention. Because adolescents haven’t developed completely in the areas of the brain that deal with decision making and consequence, addiction is the most real thing. When they think nothing is bad for them or could hurt them, this is when they try these things. Understand that teens are most vulnerable at this time.

The argument for this has gone on for years but for treatment centers and adolescent addiction advocates, we know that this is not the case. About ten percent of kids that smoke it before 19 can become dependent and addicted to marijuana. It isn’t just your mother’s marijuana anymore, because it’s grown with chemically enhanced additives. We should be careful to say that it doesn’t affect brain chemistry.

  • “Prescriptions help my child. They have to be good for them since they were prescribed by a physician.”

Before you turn to a prescription drug to solve your teens problems, remember that what you agree to give them isn’t natural. Unless absolutely necessary, many of these drugs that work to reduce the effects of ADHD and emotional mental health conditions may do more harm than you think. Prescription drugs are of the most addictive of them all. Once you give them a prescription, it’s not guaranteed they won’t abuse the medication. Just because it’s a pill given to you by a doctor doesn’t mean it can’t harm you.

Now that you know some of the ideas you should watch out for in your own thinking, share what you’ve learned with your family about addiction. You can save your child from addiction if you’re open minded. Call Visions Adolescent Treatment Center to find out more about specific addictions and how we can help your teen recover at 866-889-3665.

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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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