One of the most hotly contested debates in the world of addiction treatment is whether teen marijuana use is addictive. Treatment and healthcare professionals continue to go back and forth on the issue. But countless young people have seen their lives thrown into disrepair as a result of their abuse of marijuana. Teen marijuana addiction is one of the most pressing problems facing our children today. Furthermore, unless the problem is addressed, it will continue to claim the health of teens.
Teen Marijuana Use and Addiction Statistics
Some research has found that marijuana abuse among teens has leveled off in recent years. But there are still far too many young people putting their future in jeopardy as a result of this drug.
Consider the following statistics:
- A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found in 2002, 10.8 percent of 10th graders, and 32.4 percent of 12th graders had abused marijuana. They used it at least once in the last year.
- Among teens aged 12 to 17, boys were much likely than girls to report marijuana use.
- Marijuana remains the most commonly abused drug among teenagers by a wide margin.
These statistics show that marijuana abuse is a significant issue for teens in middle school through high school. Furthermore, if this behavior goes unchecked, it can mean a lifelong struggle.
Marijuana Addiction Myths
Too many people believe that teen marijuana abuse is nothing to worry about. In addition, they think it is a normal activity for teens and nothing dangerous. Some parents even believe that it’s okay for their teen to abuse marijuana as long as they do so at home where they can be supervised and won’t drive. Unfortunately, myths like these cause teens who abuse marijuana to continue the practice. They develop a habit that gets in the way of their ability to perform well in school. It impacts progress toward their career goals.
Marijuana, like alcohol and other drugs of abuse, is also destructive to teens. Teenagers are at a critical developmental stage mentally and emotionally. Drug abuse of any kind can stunt their development and cause problems for years to come.
The Truth About Marijuana Use
According to the Office of National Drug Control, there are a number of different myths about marijuana addiction. Here are a few of the most common:
- Teen Marijuana Abuse Is Normal. Teen marijuana abuse is not the behavior of a normal teenager. Though a single experimentation is not uncommon, many teens never abuse drugs or alcohol during their high school years. Those who do and continue to abuse the drug often have other issues they are struggling with and are attempting to escape by smoking marijuana.
- Marijuana Abuse Is Okay as Long as He or She Does It at Home. Some parents believe that if they are able to supervise their teen while he or she smokes marijuana or drinks alcohol that it will somehow protect them. Unfortunately, this is not only an ill-advised decision but an illegal one. Parents who allow their teens to abuse any drug, including alcohol, at home can be held liable in court. Using drugs at home reinforces the idea that it’s okay and opens the door to the idea that other drugs may be safe as well.
- Most Marijuana Abuse Is Not Dangerous.Teen marijuana abuse steals your child’s drive and focus. It can easily become an addiction. It can lead to other addictions that are deadly and steal more than just energy, money, and time.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction in Teens
Parents and loved ones should be aware of the hallmark signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction. Therefore, they can identify that there is a problem and take the necessary steps to getting the child the help they need via a teen drug rehab program.
The most common signs and symptoms of teen marijuana addiction and abuse are:
- Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
- Hanging out with a new set of friends, unknown to the family
- Suddenly poor performance at school (grades slipping, attendance falling, etc.)
- Marijuana paraphernalia (including rolling papers, drug residue, pipes, etc.)
- Secretive behavior
- Defensiveness when questioned about drug use
When Your Teen Is Addicted to Marijuana
When you find out that your teen is living with an active marijuana addiction, it can be difficult to know what to do. Emotions are often strong. Figuring out the right response and how to go forward can be mind-numbing if you don’t have a plan in place in advance. The best way to fight back against teen marijuana addiction is to address it head on, according to the National Health Information Center. If setting limits doesn’t curb your teen’s marijuana use, then they are struggling with a marijuana addiction. The only way to deal with teen marijuana addiction effectively is to find a teen rehab.
- Get emotions in check. It’s not easy to discover that your teen is abusing or addicted to any drug, including marijuana. Anger, depression, frustration, denial, and disbelief are all common responses. Remain calm, speak clearly, and stand firm on your convictions.
- Talk to your teen. You can’t address the issue if you don’t start by confronting your teen about marijuana abuse and abuse of other drugs. If you haven’t done so already, set boundaries. Outline the repercussions for marijuana abuse. Be clear and take no excuses or argument.
- Communicate with your spouse or co–parenting partner. If marijuana abuse is an issue for your teen, the other parent needs to know about it. Have a discussion and determine what the best course going forward will be. Come to an agreement that you can both live with and support.
- Follow through. Once you choose a course of action and response to continued marijuana abuse, follow through. Your teen will not be helped by getting second, third, and fourth chances. If marijuana abuse and addiction continues, treatment is necessary.
Effects of Teen Marijuana Addiction on the Family
Teen marijuana addiction affects everyone in the family. Anyone who has regular contact with the addicted teen will in some way be impacted. One may be irritated, saddened, angered, hurt and/or distraught by the behavior of their loved one. Each person will react differently. But some of the common reactions of parents, siblings, and extended family members are listed below.
The good news is that the effects of teen marijuana addiction on the family can be addressed and treated at a teen treatment program. Furthermore, family members are encouraged to take part in family therapy sessions. You can join support groups and workshops to heal and learn how to move forward.
Parents and their relationships with each other, their addicted child, and other children in the family are often damaged. It’s hard for parents to agree on the best way to handle the issues. Also, there are usually problems as a result. In addition, many parents even separate or divorce over the issues. When dealing directly with their addicted teen, the resentment and anger that parents feel can make it difficult for them to remain calm. When dealing with other children in the family, parents may be unable to engage because they are exhausted.
Siblings often have a hard time when their brother or sister becomes addicted to marijuana. In addition, they may be angry. They often resent the problems that their addicted sibling causes in the family as well as the time and attention they monopolize as a result. In some cases, younger brothers and sisters follow in their sibling’s footsteps and begin to smoke marijuana as well.
Treatment for Teen Marijuana Use
Marijuana treatment helps teens overcome their physical and psychological addiction to THC. Through detox, counseling, and aftercare the teen is given an opportunity to not only get sober. But learn the life skills necessary to stay that way. These programs offer a life-changing experience. Teens learn healthy habits so that marijuana is no longer a response to the triggers that occur during the course of day-to-day life.