The Dangers of Marijuana and Teens

June 26, 2024

Unveiling the dangers of marijuana and teens: from cognitive effects to socioeconomic consequences.

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The Impact of Marijuana on Driving

One of the most immediate and dangerous effects of marijuana use among teens is the impact it has on their ability to safely operate a vehicle. This is particularly concerning given that young drivers are already at a higher risk of traffic accidents due to their inexperience on the road. Adding the effects of marijuana to this equation can lead to disastrous consequences.

Distorted Perceptions and Reaction Times

Marijuana can distort an individual's sense of time and space, making them a dangerous driver. It can also make them sleepy and slow down their responses to sights and sounds. These distortions can lead to poor reaction times, especially when handling unexpected events while driving, such as a car approaching from a side street or a child running into the street. California Courts

The table below summarizes these effects:

Effects of Marijuana on Driving Examples
Distorted sense of time and space Misjudging distances, misinterpreting speed
Slowed responses Delayed reaction to traffic signals, unexpected obstacles
Sleepiness Drowsiness while driving, falling asleep at the wheel

Effects on Night Vision

In addition to distorting perceptions and slowing reaction times, marijuana can also impair an individual's ability to adapt to light and dark. This is particularly dangerous when driving at night, as marijuana can cause a severe loss of night vision. This can make it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians, other vehicles, or obstacles on the road, increasing the risk of accidents. California Courts

The table below highlights this effect:

Effects of Marijuana on Night Vision Examples
Impaired adaptation to light and dark Difficulty seeing in low light conditions, being blinded by oncoming headlights

These examples serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of marijuana and teens, particularly when it comes to activities like driving. It's critical to educate teens about these risks and promote safe behaviors to keep them, and others, safe on the road.

Teen Marijuana Use Statistics

Understanding the prevalence of marijuana use among teens is a crucial aspect of highlighting the dangers of marijuana and teens. It provides context and helps underscore the importance of addressing this issue.

Usage among 12th Graders

In 2022, there was a significant number of high school seniors who reported using marijuana. Specifically, 30.7% of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past year. This is a concerning statistic as it shows that nearly one in three high school seniors have recently used marijuana, a substance with potential negative effects on their health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, 6.3% of these 12th graders reported using marijuana on a daily basis. This suggests a strong likelihood of dependency or marijuana use disorder among these teens, which carries additional risks and consequences.

Daily Use Trends

Daily marijuana use among teens is a particularly concerning trend. Regular use of marijuana at a young age can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including cognitive decline and the development of substance use disorder.

According to the data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.3% of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use in 2022. This figure is consistent with the earlier statistics, reinforcing the prevalence of daily marijuana use among this age group [2].

Vaping Marijuana Trends

Vaping marijuana is another trend that is gaining traction among teens. It involves inhaling marijuana in a vapor form rather than smoking it, which can be perceived as a safer method of consumption. However, the health effects of vaping marijuana are still not fully understood and may carry significant risks.

In 2022, nearly 20.6% of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Among these users, 2.1% reported vaping marijuana daily. This indicates a growing trend of marijuana vaping among teens, which warrants further research and preventive efforts.

Cognitive Effects of Teen Marijuana Use

Exploring the dangers of marijuana and teens, it is crucial to understand the cognitive implications of marijuana usage, particularly concerning IQ points and cognitive decline, and the impact on brain connectivity and executive functioning.

IQ Points and Cognitive Decline

Research indicates a notable relationship between heavy marijuana use during adolescence and cognitive decline. A study from New Zealand revealed that individuals who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and developed an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. Interestingly, the lost mental abilities didn't fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults.

This cognitive decline can have significant implications for an individual's academic performance. Persistent cannabis use throughout high school has been associated with lower grade point averages and lower scholastic aptitude test scores among adolescents [3].

Brain Connectivity and Executive Functioning

Beyond its impact on IQ points and cognitive decline, marijuana use in teens can also affect brain connectivity and executive functioning. Adolescents with cannabis use disorder showed decreased functional connectivity, lower IQ scores, and slower cognitive function compared to healthy controls. This impact was seen in areas of the brain such as the anterior cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex, which play key roles in decision-making, impulse control, and emotional regulation [3].

Furthermore, adolescent marijuana users have been found to demonstrate disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, macrostructural and microstructural brain development, and alterations in brain functioning. These disadvantages could reflect pre-existing differences that lead to increased substance use and further changes in brain architecture and behavioral outcomes.

In light of these findings, it's clear that adolescence is a critical time for brain development, and the introduction of marijuana can have long-lasting effects on cognitive function. Prevention efforts, education, and early intervention are key strategies in mitigating these risks and protecting the cognitive health of our youth.

Risks of Marijuana Use Disorder

One of the significant dangers of marijuana for teens is the risk of developing a marijuana use disorder. This disorder can have severe repercussions on an individual's life, affecting their health, social relationships, and future opportunities.

Development of Substance Use Disorder

Marijuana use may lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Research suggests that between 9% and 30% of marijuana users may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. Alarmingly, those who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are more likely to develop a disorder, underscoring the importance of addressing this issue among teens [1].

Age of First Marijuana Use Risk of Developing Use Disorder
Before 18 High
18 and above Lower

Such statistics highlight the importance of educating teens about the dangers of marijuana use. They also emphasize the need for early intervention to prevent the development of substance use disorders.

Treatment Options and Effectiveness

While there are currently no medications available to treat marijuana use disorder, various forms of behavioral support have shown promise. Therapy and motivational incentives can be effective in treating the disorder. Therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and 12-step facilitation can provide individuals with coping skills, motivation for abstinence, and support in recovery.

Treatment Option Effectiveness
Cognitive-behavioral therapy Effective
Contingency management Effective
Motivational enhancement therapy Effective
12-step facilitation Effective

These treatment options can help individuals overcome their dependence on marijuana and regain control over their lives. However, it's crucial to seek professional help early, as the progression of marijuana use disorder can lead to more severe health and socioeconomic consequences.

Addressing the risks of marijuana use disorder amongst teens is a critical aspect of preventing long-term harm and ensuring the well-being of future generations. By understanding these risks and the available treatment options, individuals, families, and communities can be better equipped to tackle this issue head-on.

Socioeconomic Consequences of Heavy Marijuana Use

The dangers of marijuana and teens extend beyond the immediate physical and cognitive effects. Heavy marijuana use during adolescence can also lead to significant socioeconomic consequences in later life. This includes impacts on employment and income levels, as well as educational attainment and academic performance.

Employment and Income Levels

Heavy adolescent marijuana use has been associated with an increased risk of economic hardship and lower income in adulthood. According to a study published by NCBI, adolescents who used marijuana heavily were almost twice as likely as non/light users to be in a poor financial state, earn lower income, and experience heightened anxiety in midlife.

Moreover, heavy marijuana use during adolescence has also been linked with negative impacts on employment status in adulthood. The same study found that heavy marijuana use during adolescence was negatively associated with being employed at age 32-33 for both males and females.

Educational Attainment and Academic Performance

The implications of heavy marijuana use during adolescence also extend to educational outcomes. Adolescents who used marijuana heavily were over three times as likely to drop out of school compared to obtaining a college degree, and less likely to obtain a high school diploma/GED compared to dropping out of school.

In addition to impacting school completion rates, heavy marijuana use in adolescence can also affect academic performance. The study suggests that school dropout and adult drug trajectories significantly mediated the socioeconomic effects of heavy adolescent marijuana use.

Taken together, these findings underscore the socioeconomic dangers of marijuana use among teens. The impacts are far-reaching and long-lasting, affecting not only the individual but also their future prospects in terms of employment, income, and education. Therefore, it is critical to educate teens about these potential consequences and promote healthy choices for their future.

Social and Behavioral Impacts

Understanding the dangers of marijuana and teens extends beyond the immediate physical and cognitive effects. It's crucial to consider the broader social and behavioral impacts that marijuana use can have on teenagers' lives.

Social Status and Peer Influence

Studies suggest that friends' influence on marijuana use may vary depending on the school context. At some schools, peer influence is predominantly within reciprocated friendships, while at others, adopting friends' drug use behaviors could be a strategy to attain social status [6]. This suggests that teenagers' social environment can play a critical role in their decision to use marijuana, making it crucial to encourage healthy peer relationships and provide accurate information about the dangers of marijuana use.

Marital and Family Consequences

Long-term social and behavioral consequences of marijuana use during adolescence are significant. Heavy marijuana use during this time has been negatively associated with employment, marriage, and parenting outcomes in midlife [7]. These findings highlight the importance of early intervention and prevention strategies to deter marijuana use among teenagers and mitigate potential future consequences.

Substance Use and Academic Achievement

Frequent marijuana use during adolescence has been linked to dropping out of high school, fewer years of schooling, lower educational expectations, and being "high" at school. This indicates a clear impact on academic achievement and substance use behaviors.

Moreover, marijuana use among college students has been associated with negative influences on high school grades, degree completion, and the likelihood of entering college. This suggests that marijuana use can hamper teenagers' educational advancement and future opportunities.

In conclusion, the dangers of marijuana and teens are multifaceted and extend beyond immediate health effects. The social and behavioral impacts can have long-lasting consequences on teenagers' lives and futures, underlining the importance of comprehensive education, prevention, and intervention strategies.

References

[1]: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana

[2]: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/marijuana-rehab/effects-of-marijuana-on-teenage-brain

[3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7365113/

[4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930618/

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5784846/

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872203/

[7]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5784847/

[8]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586361/

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