2019 National Prevention Week – Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

One of the most controversial topics lately is marijuana legalization. When considering this, it’s important to understand the effects of marijuana use on the growing teen brain and to understand that even in states where marijuana is legal, it is still illegal for anyone under 21, and for good reason.

With all the talk around marijuana, many teens, and even some parents, don’t understand that marijuana affects teens differently than it does adults. We hear teens say “it’s harmless because it’s natural” or “it’s not addictive”.

Here in East Texas, 1 in 5 students have tried marijuana and just over 1 in 10 students use regularly, according to the 2018 Texas School Survey. Also, the average age that local students try marijuana is just 14.

Research shows that marijuana can cause serious problems with learning, feelings, and health when it comes to youth.

Short-term use of marijuana can lead to:

  • School difficulties
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Increased aggression
  • Car accidents
  • Use of other drugs or alcohol
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Worsening of underlying mental health conditions including mood changes and suicidal thinking
  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Interference with prescribed medication

Regular use of marijuana can lead to significant problems including Cannabis Use Disorder. Signs that your child has developed Cannabis Use Disorder include using marijuana more often than intended, having cravings, or when using interferes with other activities. If someone with Cannabis Use Disorder stops using suddenly, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that, while not dangerous, can cause irritability, anxiety, and changes in mood, sleep, and appetite.

Long-term use of marijuana can lead to:

  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • The same breathing problems as smoking cigarettes (coughing, wheezing, trouble with physical activity, and lung cancer)
  • Decreased motivation or interest which can lead to decline in academic or occupational performance
  • Lower intelligence
  • Mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, moodiness, and risk of suicide

What can you do?

  • Join a local coalition to prevent youth marijuana use.
  • Write your local representative and tell them where you stand on marijuana legalization and explain the damaging effects of marijuana use on youth. Find your local representative
  • If you’re a parent, read these 7 tips to keep your kids drug and alcohol free.