Why do young people use marijuana?

Young persons begin to use marijuana for many reasons. It could be curiosity. It could be a desire to fit into a social group. They may have friends who use drugs and these friends may urge them to try using (peer pressure).

Teenagers who have already started smoking cigarettes or drink alcohol are at a heightened risk of starting using marijuana.

Children or teens with undiagnosed or untreated mental disorders such as ADHD, conduct disorder, depression or anxiety) are also at risk. Individuals who have been sexually abused or bullied are also highly vulnerable to drugs intake at an early age.

For some kids, taking drugs is a means to coping with uncomfortable feelings such anxiety, anger, depression, boredom and stress at school. However, getting high is actually a way of escaping the problems, not learning how to deal with them.

Research indicates that another factor that initiates kids into alcohol or drugs is the family members’ use of such substances at home. Parents, uncles and aunts, and elder siblings are role models kids tend to follow.

Thus we can say that all aspects of the kids’ environment – school, home, friends – can trigger drug or alcohol use.

How can you prevent your child from using marijuana?

There is no magic formula for preventing your children from using drugs. However, research has indicated that parents have a significant influence on their kids. To begin, talk openly with your kids. And stay actively engaged in their daily lives.

Here are some facts about marijuana that research supports. These brief findings are supported by scientific evidence. These findings can help you and your child separate fact from fiction.

Facts about marijuana:

Marijuana can be addictive. If a person uses marijuana repeatedly, it leads to addiction – which means the person cannot stop using the drug, even if he or she wants to. This is despite the fact that the drug use may be having adverse effects on his life.

According to statistics available, Marijuana causes strong addiction in approximately 9%, or about 1 in 11, of those who use it even once. For those who start in their teens, this rate increases to 1 in 6, or 17%, and 25–50 percent among daily users.

Marijuana use gradually affects the user so much that he or she usually requires treatment. Among youth in addiction treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions: 74 percent among those in the age group of 12–14 years, and 76 percent among those 15–17.

Marijuana is unsafe if you are behind the wheel.  Marijuana impairs judgment and compromises other skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. A person who is high on Marijuana cannot judge distances accurately nor react appropriately to signals and sounds on the road.

Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in fatal road accidents (found in the bloodstream of about 14 percent of drivers), sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs. By itself, marijuana almost doubles a driver's chances of being in an accident, and the combination of marijuana and even small amounts of alcohol is even more perilous.

Marijuana is associated with school failure. Marijuana causes what is known as ‘demotivation syndrome’. It reduces attention span, affects memory, and erodes learning abilities. A person who smokes marijuana regularly will be functioning at a reduced intellectual level. A recent study indicated that people who begin using marijuana heavily as teens permanently lose an average of 8 points in IQ by mid-adulthood.

Students who smoke marijuana score lower grades compared with their nonsmoking peers. Marijuana smokers are also more likely to drop out of school.

It has been observed that long-term marijuana users report decreased overall life satisfaction, compounded by diminished mental and physical health, memory and relationship problems, lower salaries, self-esteem issues and fewer friends.

Marijuana can cause psychosis. There is increasing evidence that marijuana can cause serious mental health problems such as ‘cannabis psychosis’. The individual experiences disturbed perception and irrational thoughts, including paranoia. In people who already have a genetic loading (history of mental health issues in family), the drug can trigger an episode. Those who have preexisting vulnerability or are already affected by mental diseases such as schizophrenia, marijuana use can worsen psychotic symptoms.

Hope Trust  rehab in India gets several cases of marijuana addiction every month. Some of these are dual diagnosis cases (addiction along with a psychiatric problem) and there is adequate evidence to suggest that psychiatric problems and marijuana are somehow linked.