Negative Effects Of Marijuana

“But it’s only marijuana” or “it’s only alcohol,” you say. “It’s a rite of passage.” “Teens are expected to experiment.” Not any more. The world has changed, and so have the drugs. In fact, the marijuana of today is stronger than ever before. Drug and alcohol use can lead to many negative consequences, including bad grades, broken friendships, family problems, trouble with the law, etc. Most important, teens’ brains and bodies are still developing, and substance use can interfere with their emerging independence and efforts to establish their own identity. Drug and alcohol use can change the direction of a young person’s life – physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. It can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during a teen’s peak learning years, and impair judgment leading to risky decision making that could involve sex or getting into a car with someone under the influence of drugs. “Experimentation,” even with marijuana, can also lead to addiction. Not everyone progresses from use to abuse to addiction, but it is a dangerous road and there is no way to know who will become addicted and who won’t. • More teens are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illegal drugs combined.1 • Research also shows that many adolescents start to drink at very young ages. In 2003, the average age of first use of alcohol was about 14, compared to about 17 1/2 in 1965.2 • A 1998 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says if a 15-year-old starts to drink, he or she has a 40% chance of alcoholism or dependence as an adult.3 • Kids are using marijuana at an earlier age. In the late 1960s fewer than half of those using marijuana for the first time were under 18. In 2006, about 64 percent of marijuana users were younger than 18.4 • Marijuana affects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time, many of the skills required for safe driving and other tasks. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana. Marijuana use can also make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road.5 • Smoking marijuana leads to changes in the brain that are similar to those caused by cocaine, heroin, or alcohol.6 Sources: 1. El Sohly, M.A. University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project, 2004 2. Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, Revised, NIDA, November 1998 3. Patton, GC et al. Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study. British Medical Journal, 325:1195-1198, 2002. 4. 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA, 2007. Table 6.36B. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k6nsduh/tabs/Sect6peTabs36to37.pdf 5. Patton, G.Cet al. Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study. BMJ 325, 1195-1198, 2002. 6. Greenblatt, J. (1998), Adolescent self-reported behaviors and their association with marijuana use. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1994-1996 SAMHSA 7. Ibid. 8. Andreasson, S. et al. Cannabis and schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 26: 1483-1486, 1987 9. Arseneault L., et al. Causal association between cannabis and psychosis: examination of the evidence. British Journal of Psychiatry, 184: 110-117, 2004 10.van Os et al. (Dec. 2004) Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis, and psychotic symptoms in young people, British Medical Journal, 330