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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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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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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.

Addiction Alcohol Marijuana

The Link between Sleep Patterns and Substance Abuse

The link between sleep and substance abuse has been widely studied, particularly in regards to the sleep problems that can arise as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. However, recent studies have also shown a reverse relationship, suggesting poor sleep patterns can also help predict which teens may be drawn to substance use. As more studies show a compelling association between sleep and substance abuse, parents may be able to use this information to lower the risk of substance use by their teens through helping them form healthy sleep habits.

Sleep Patterns and Alcohol or Marijuana Use
Teens that tend to stay up later at night are also more likely to have used marijuana or alcohol within the past month, a new study from the Rand Corporation has found. Researchers asked more than 2,500 teens from 16 middle schools in Southern California about their total nightly sleep time, as well as their marijuana and alcohol use once they reached high school. All of the surveys were completed between May 2013 and April 2014.

“Our findings suggest that sleep issues are independently associated with alcohol and marijuana use for teens, not just a marker for other risk factors, such as depression,” Wendy Troxel, lead author for the study, was quoted as saying in a Rand Corporation press release. However, researchers cautioned that their findings did not determine a cause and effect, so it was unknown if sleep problems simply predict alcohol and marijuana use or actually lead to it.

Sleep Problems May Lead to Binge Drinking
The Rand Corporation study is not the first to show a compelling association between lack of sleep and drug and alcohol abuse. Earlier this year, researchers at Idaho State University studied more than 6,500 teenagers to determine a link between sleep and alcohol problems. Through interviews and questionnaires, the scientists found that sleep issues appeared to be a potential predictor of substance abuse.

Specified sleep problems encompassed difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, as well as sleeping too little. Specific drug and alcohol issues linked to sleep problems in this study included:

  • Getting drunk or high
  • Binge drinking
  • Driving under the influence
  • Risky sexual behavior regretted later
  • Use of illegal drugs

Although sleep may be an important factor in whether a teen might use or abuse substances, it is certainly not the only one. There are many circumstances that could play into whether an adolescent will choose to use drugs or alcohol. If you suspect your teen is abusing these substances, the professionals at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers can help. Contact us today at 866-889-3665.


4 Myths About Marijuana

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half of all teenagers in the U.S. try marijuana before they graduate from high school. Marijuana use is becoming more prevalent and accepted, thanks to legalization of the substance in numerous states for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Unfortunately, wider acceptance has also fed some of the myths about the safety of this drug, leading to higher use among the younger crowd. We have some of the common myths circulating about marijuana and the facts that debunk these myths.

Marijuana is not a significant health risk.

This misconception may stem from the fact that a user cannot overdose and die from using too much pot. However, the long-term health ramifications of using this drug regularly include cognitive impairment and an increased risk of mental disorders and lung cancer. The drug is also associated with a higher incidence of risky sexual behavior, which can increase the user’s risk for sexually-transmitted diseases.

I cannot become “hooked” on marijuana.

It is true that marijuana in not as addictive as many other drugs circulating today. However, the THC in marijuana stimulates the release of dopamine by the brain, which leads to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This process can lead to abuse and addiction, as evidenced by the fact that more teens enter treatment programs yearly with a diagnosis of marijuana dependence than all other drugs combined, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Marijuana has medicinal benefits.

This misconception stems from the fact that marijuana has been legalized in 23 states and the District of Columbia for medical purposes. However, under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, marijuana is listed a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning it has no recognized medical value. On the other hand, synthetic THC has been approved by the FDA as a legal version of marijuana and has been available by prescription since 1985 in a drug known as Marinol.

If it’s legal, it must be okay.

The legalization of marijuana has made getting the truth out about the dangers of marijuana an uphill battle. People, especially young people, assume that if the drug is legal, it must be safe. Unfortunately, there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise, including long-term effects on the brain that could be permanent. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse warned in 2013 that regular use of marijuana could set a user on a “downward life trajectory” that includes a negative impact on both social and cognitive development.

Marijuana is a drug with the same risks and dangers as other drugs used on the street today. If your teen is struggling with marijuana dependence, we can help. Contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665 to learn about our treatment programs and get the help you need today.

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