Marijuana and Teens
Marijuana and Mental Health
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Youth marijuana use is risky and can lead to serious consequences, including mental health problems. Researchers have long known that marijuana use has been associated with psychopathology. In the past decade, research on the psychiatric implications of the drug has increased dramatically. In the past three years, in particular, evidence has been accumulating that regular marijuana use can not only aggravate already existing mental illness, but that it may precede, or act as a catalyst, in mental health problems, including depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. This new research also identifies two crucial risk factors:
- The age when marijuana is first smoked has a major impact on the later development of mental health problems. The earlier the use, the greater the implications.
- There is an increased risk of depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia as a result of marijuana use, even among people with no prior history of a disorder. However, those with a predisposition for mental illness are particularly vulnerable. In the case of psychotic disorders, this is estimated to be about one in four people.
Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
Several recent studies have linked youth marijuana use with increases in depression and suicidal thinking.
- Teens age 12 to 17 who smoke marijuana weekly are three times more likely than non-users to have thoughts about committing suicide.
- Some research shows that marijuana use can precede symptoms of depression. Girls (ages 14-15) who used marijuana daily were five times more likely to face depression at age 21. Weekly use among all teens studied doubled the risk for depression.
- A study of adults found that marijuana use quadrupled the risk of later major depression.
- A study of 1,265 children over a 21-year period found that marijuana use, particularly heavy or regular use, was associated with later increases in depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
- Past-year marijuana use has been linked to social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, attention problems and thoughts of suicide in adolescents.
- Research with twins found that the twin who was dependent on marijuana was almost three times more likely to think about suicide and attempt suicide than his/her non-marijuana dependent co-twin.
Marijuana use has been linked to early-onset schizophrenia, and several recent studies show that marijuana use during adolescence increases the risk of psychotic disorders in adulthood.
- Heavy marijuana users are almost seven times more likely than non-users to be diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life.
- Among men suffering from schizophrenia, those who had used marijuana were much more likely to experience their first psychotic episode at an early age.
- A recent study found that that the earlier the use of marijuana (age 15 vs. age 18), the greater the risk of schizophrenia.
- A study published in 2005 found that regular use of marijuana may double the risk of developing psychotic disorders and that marijuana causes chemical changes to the brain. The study maintains that smoking marijuana causes symptoms even when other factors are taken into consideration.
Recent evidence suggests that some people's genetic make-up may predispose them to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana on mental health.
- An analysis of 2,437 young people found that marijuana use moderately increases the risk of psychopathology. The risk for those with a predisposition for psychopathology was much higher.
- A study published in spring 2005 found that as many as one in four people may have a genetic profile that makes marijuana five times more likely to trigger psychotic disorders.
Parents Can Make a Difference
Parents can make a difference by talking to their teens about the risks of marijuana and by monitoring their behavior. They can also take early action if they see signs of drug use or emotional problems.
- Parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to drugs. A report from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse showed that the rate of past-month marijuana use was lower among kids who believed their parents would disapprove.
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Society of Addiction Medicine
- Asian Community Mental Health Services
- Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse
- Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
- National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
- National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers
- National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
- National Latino Behavioral Health Association
- National Medical Association
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Parents: sign up for current drug information and parenting tips newsletters at www.theantidrug.com and www.drugstory.org.
Get the Facts about Drugged Driving
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While the consequences of drunk driving have become well known over the last twenty years, the subject of drugged driving has received fairly limited attention. Unfortunately, too many Americans are unaware of the dangers and uncertain about the possibility of being arrested for drugged driving.
- Over 8 million persons aged 12 or older, or 3.6% of the U.S. population, reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs during the past year (2001). This was an increase from the rate of 3.1 percent in 2000 according to the 2002 National Household Survey of Drug Abuse (NHSDA).
- Rates of drugged driving for young adults aged 18 to 34 increased from 2000 to 2001.
- The 2002 NHSDA revealed that the rate of drugged driving increased with each year of age peaking among 19 year olds at 16 percent and generally decreased with increasing age among those aged 20 or older.
- According to a 2002 survey among teen drivers conducted by SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk) and Liberty Mutual Group, driving after marijuana use is more prevalent (68 percent) than driving after alcohol use (48 percent of those who drink "regularly"). More than half the teens who reported illegal drug use also reported that they were not concerned about riding in a car with a driver who is using illegal drugs (57 percent).
- The 2002 NHSDA also revealed that among adults aged 18 or older, those who were unemployed were more likely than full or part-time workers to report driving under the influence of illegal drugs during the past year.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), illegal drugs are used by approximately 10-22 percent of drivers involved in all motor vehicle crashes, often in combination with alcohol. In 1996, the percentage of drivers aged 16 to 20 who drove within 2 hours after using marijuana and another illegal drug was 39.7 percent.
- The Department of Transportation has published two studies examining the impact of marijuana on driving performance. Marijuana - the most widely abused illegal drug - slows a driver's perception of time, space, and distance.
- Research indicates that cocaine causes drivers to speed, change lanes without signaling and puts other innocent people at risk of a deadly accident.
- NHTSA estimates that only 15 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes had their blood alcohol content tested, suggesting that the incidence of driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs is potentially significantly underestimated.
- While it is illegal in all states to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs other than alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and other drugs, there is no consistent method across states for identifying drug impairment. As a result, we do not know the full impact of illegal drug use on public safety.
More info: www.theantidrug.com, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
Don't Underestimate Marijuana
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Don't be confused by efforts to "medicalize" marijuana. Your kids need to know how risky marijuana use can be. "Young marijuana users face serious risks", says Surgeon General Richard Carmona, M.D. "Marijuana can harm the brain, lungs and mental health. Research also shows that marijuana is addictive." Here's the truth about marijuana today:
- Marijuana is much stronger and more addictive than it was 30 years ago. Average THC levels have risen from less than 1% in the late 1970's to 7% in 2001.
- Marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than among adults. More teens enter drug treatment each year for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined.
- Getting high impairs judgment, leading to risky decision-making on issues like sex, criminal activity or riding with someone who is driving while high. Kids ages 12-17 who use marijuana weekly are five times more likely to steal and nearly four times more likely to engage in violent acts than those who don't. A roadside check of reckless drivers (not impaired by alcohol) showed that 45 % tested positive for marijuana.
- Twice as many 8th graders today have tried marijuana than 10 years ago (10.2 percent in 1991 to 20.4 percent in 2001)
- Young people with an average grade of "D" or below were more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the last year than those with an average grade of "A."
- There are no clinical studies demonstrating the appropriate medical use of marijuana. The medical marijuana initiative has given some teens the misperception that marijuana is harmless or may have health benefits.
The good news is that parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to marijuana. Two-thirds of youth ages 13-17 say losing their parents' respect is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs. Parents can help keep their kids drug-free by asking questions and staying involved in their childrens' lives. More information about the effects of marijuana use, its signs and symptoms, and advice for parents can be found at www.theantidrug.com, which provided the facts for this article.
Experts Agree that Marijuana and Learning Don't Add Up
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The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American School Counselor Association are among the nine signers of an open letter to parents entitled Experts Agree that Marijuana and Learning Don't Add Up. They recognize that teens with an average grade of "D" or below are more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year as youth who reported an average grade of "A." Significant consequences of marijuana that interfere with learning include negative effects on short-term memory, motivation, problem-solving, concentration and attention span.
The Academy also notes adverse effects of marijuana on "coordination, judgment, reaction time, and tracking ability contribute substantially to unintentional deaths and injuries among adolescents (especially those associated with motor vehicles.)"
The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents and legislators to know it opposes the legalization of marijuana. This policy position outlined in the June 2004 issue of the Academy's Journal, Pediatrics concludes: "Any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents." The AAP Journal, Pediatrics, notes:
- Tobacco and alcohol products, both legal for adults 18 and 21 years of age, respectively, are the psychoactive substances most widely abused by adolescents. "…it does not follow logically that yet a third addictive psychoactive drug (marijuana) should be legalized. Many of the harms associated with alcohol and tobacco use stem from the widespread acceptability, availability, and use of these substances.
- Enforcement is another issue. Law enforcement has found it difficult to meet its current regulatory obligations for tobacco and alcohol sells to minors, creating doubts that marijuana laws could be enforced either.
- If marijuana is a legal drug, youth will likely consider it readily available. Surveys indicate that when youth have the perception that marijuana is readily available, they are approximately 2.5 times more likely to use it.
- Legal avenues to reduce tobacco (a legal drug) advertising that targeted children has been unsuccessful. One of the purposes of legal action against the tobacco companies, Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, was just such an attempt. However, cigarette advertising in youth-oriented magazines increased by $54 million after the TMSA.
Go to www.theantidrug.com for the open letter and links to the research cited. Share these facts about marijuana with your teens. Be clear about your expectations, because the rules you set and enforce today will make all the difference in your teen's life tomorrow.
Kids and Marijuana: The Facts
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Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among America's youth.1 Among kids who use drugs, approximately 60 percent use marijuana.2 Twice as many 8th graders today have tried marijuana compared to a decade ago, from 10.2 percent in 1991 to 20.4 percent in 2001.3
A government report shows that the younger children are when they first use marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent on drugs as adults. 4
Marijuana is Addictive
- Research has now established that marijuana is addictive.5 In fact, more kids enter treatment each year for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined.6
- Sixty percent of teens currently in drug treatment have a primary marijuana diagnosis.7
- Today's marijuana is more potent and its effects can be more intense.8
Marijuana Hurts Young Bodies and Minds and Is Linked to Risky Behaviors
- The brain. Smoking marijuana leads to changes in the brain that are like those caused by cocaine, heroin and alcohol.9
- Lung damage. Regular marijuana users often develop breathing problems including chronic coughing and wheezing. Asthma is a common childhood disease. Smoking marijuana makes any lung condition like asthma worse.
- Mental health. For young users, marijuana can lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental health problems. One study found that adolescents associated social withdrawal, anxiety and depression, attention problems and thoughts of suicide with past-year marijuana use.10
- Risky behavior. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, adolescents age 12 to 17 who use marijuana weekly are nine times more likely than non-users to experiment with illegal drugs or alcohol, five times more likely to steal and nearly four times more likely to engage in violence.11
Marijuana Affects Learning and Academic Achievement and Impairs Driving
- Researchers have found that heavy marijuana use impairs the ability of young people to concentrate and retain information.12 This may be especially problematic during teens' peak learning years, when their brains are still developing.
- 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.13
Parents Can Make a Difference
- Parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to drugs. Two-thirds of youth ages 13-17 say losing their parents' respect is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs.14
- In 2000, 31 percent of youth whose parents did not strongly disapprove reported use of an illicit drug in the past month.15
1 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2001
2 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2000
3 Monitoring the Future, 2001
4 "Initiation of Marijuana Use: Trends, Patterns and Implications," SAMHSA 2002
5 National Institute on Drug Abuse. www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/marijuana.html Facts for Teens
6 "Treatment Episodes Data Set 1994-1999: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services," SAMHSA, October 2001
7 SAMHSA, TEDS, 2001. Fifty-seven percent of youth admissions were referrals through the court system.
8 Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project, University of Mississippi, 2000
9 Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, Revised, NIDA, November 1998
10 Adolescents age 12 to 17 who smoke marijuana weekly are three times more likely to have thoughts about committing suicide. "Adolescent Self-Reported Behaviors and their Association with Marijuana Use," SAMHSA, 1998. Based on data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1994-1996
11 Adolescent Self-Reported Behaviors, SAMHSA, 1998
12 NIDA InfoFax Marijuana 13551
13 Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, Revised, NIDA, November 1998
14 Partnership for a Drug-Free America, "Partnership Attitude Tracking Study," 1999.
15 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2000
Summer is the Riskiest Time of the Year for Teens and Marijuana
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(Washington, D.C.) "Summer may be a vacation for teens, but it presents new challenges for parents," said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "Many parents don't know that new teen marijuana use spikes in the summer months. Marijuana is riskier than many parents think - in fact, more teens are in treatment for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined."
According to data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, more teens smoked marijuana for the first time in June and July than any other months of the year, and nearly 40% of teens who first tried marijuana did so during May through August. Each day in June and July, approximately 5,800 teens try marijuana for the first time. The number of new underage drinkers and cigarette smokers also jumps during the summer months.
The increase in new drug use is likely due to teens having more unsupervised time in the summer. Research shows that kids with unsupervised time are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. A 2001 study commissioned by the YMCA of the USA found that teens who are unsupervised are three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs than those who are not.
More teens use marijuana than all other illicit drugs combined. Research shows that marijuana can be addictive, contribute to drunk driving and other dangerous physical activities, and lead to a host of health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a crucial time in young lives.
"In order to combat this problem, teens need to have access to a variety of activities that will interest and engage them during the summer months," said Kenneth L. Gladish, Ph.D., National Executive Director, YMCA of the USA. "When children are unsupervised, they are placed in greater danger. They are also lacking positive interaction with peers and role models, educational opportunities in a supportive environment, and stimulating activities to help them grow" said Peg Smith, Executive Director of the American Camping Association (ACA).
Research shows that parents are the most powerful influence on their teen when it comes to drugs. In fact, two-thirds of kids say that fear of upsetting their parents or of losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs.
The Campaign has developed and expanded its partnerships with national community groups and corporate partners to help reach parents and teens with marijuana prevention messages this summer, including the YMCA of the USA, American Camping Association, The Mills Corporation, and Cinemark USA, Inc. Cinemark USA, Incorporated, one of the largest U.S. movie theater chains and a large employer of teens, will disseminate marijuana facts to teen employees by distributing postcards and displaying teen posters in employee break rooms.
The Media Campaign is offering new online resources to help parents keep kids drug-free once school is out, including summer parenting tips and an interactive self-rating tool (Does Your Summer Plan Stand the Heat?) to see if their summer plan will keep their teens safe. Both are available on the Campaign's Web site for parents at www.TheAntiDrug.com. The Campaign also offers online materials for community organizations at www.MediaCampaign.org; for employers at www.TheAntiDrug.com/atwork; and for youth at www.Freevibe.com.
Marijuana: The facts on HARM in San Diego County
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San Diego County created Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana (HARM) because local pro-marijuana influences, including media messages and business practices, are overwhelming well-documented scientific evidence of harm. HARM's Mission: Reduce the problems associated with the use of marijuana, especially by youth, by changing community norms and perception of its harm.
- Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among youth in San Diego County and nationally. 19 per cent of San Diego County 11th graders surveyed used marijuana in the past 30 days. Two-thirds of new marijuana users each year are between the ages of 12 and 17, while the number of eighth graders trying marijuana has doubled in 10 years.
- 49 % of juvenile arrestees in San Diego County in a SANDAG study tested positive for marijuana. 82 per cent had tried marijuana.
- 93 percent of San Diego Juvenile Arrestee Monitoring (JAM) participants self-reported marijuana as their primary drug of choice. 89 percent tested positive on admission. 100 percent of other drug users also tested positive for marijuana.
- San Diego County adolescent treatment providers say marijuana is the drug of choice for teens entering treatment.
- Youth think marijuana is less harmful than tobacco. More youth smoke marijuana than tobacco cigarettes in San Diego. Only 32 % of youth surveyed in the SANDAG study thought marijuana was "extremely bad or very bad" for them. 75% thought tobacco was "extremely bad or very bad."
- 41 per cent of 11th graders report it's "very easy" to get marijuana. It's as easy to get marijuana as it is cigarettes. 75 % reported it's easy or very easy to obtain either substance.
- 77 per cent of marijuana users in the U.S. also smoke tobacco.
- The rate of marijuana-related Emergency Department visits in San Diego has doubled from 1995 to 2002 to 1,174 mentions in 2002.
- Driving while high is an emerging threat. Driving after marijuana use is more prevalent (68 percent) than driving after alcohol use (48 percent of those who drink "regularly"). More than half the teens who reported illegal drug use also reported that they were not concerned about riding in a car with a driver who is using illegal drugs (57 percent).
1 California Healthy Kids Survey 2000
2 National Survey of Drug Use and Health 2003
3 San Diego Association of Governments Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) project 2003
4 Juvenile Arrestee Monitoring study
5 California Healthy Kids Survey, San Diego County 2003
6 San Diego Association of Governments Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) project 2003
7 California Student Survey, Office of the Attorney General
8 San Diego Association of Governments Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) project 2003
9 Moore/Moser Yale School of Medicine Study Journal of General Internal Medicine, January 2005
10 DAWN - Drug Abuse Warning Network1985-2002 San Diego
11 2002 survey among teen drivers conducted by SADD, Inc.-Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk-and Liberty Mutual Group
Just Say No to "Weeds"~Call to Action
Please help! - On Wednesday, January 19, 2005, drug prevention supporters across the county will start a campaign to stop the proposed Showtime Network's "Weeds" program that has been called a "comedy" about a single mom who sells marijuana to make ends meet in suburban Los Angeles.
- There is nothing funny about marijuana or marijuana dealers.
- This 'theme' is disrespectful to single moms.
- Marijuana is a psychoactive, addictive drug that adversely affects the lungs, the brain, the heart, the immune system and other organs.
- Marijuana use among our community's young people is rising much too rapidly.
- Cultural influences such as television shows that glorify or poke fun at marijuana only serve to increase children's perception that this dangerous drug won't hurt them."
YOU CAN HELP! Contact the Showtime Network, Lions Gate Television (the producers of Weeds")
|Ms. Doris Leal
Showtime Network, Inc.
5 Concourse Parkwy # 2100
Atlanta GA 30328
Lions Gate Entertainment
2700 Colorado Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404