The other day during a group therapy session, one of my teenage clients told me she had been tempted to use marijuana for the very first time.
I questioned her about why she was tempted to smoke marijuana and she informed me that she wasn’t going to smoke it, she was going to eat it. She had been offered some marijuana sprinkled on a cracker covered with Nutella.
This was the first time I had ever heard of teens eating marijuana on a cracker with Nutella, but that’s not the point of this post. Most teens believe marijuana is harmless, and I spend a lot of my time trying to convince them that it’s not.
From my experience, working in the field of substance abuse, I tell them that in a lot of cases, marijuana zaps motivation. Teens I work with who use marijuana usually start failing classes, missing school and eventually dropping out or getting kicked out of school.
Also, there is growing evidence supporting a correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia.
Marijuana doesn’t cause schizophrenia, but it does seem to activate schizophrenia and other mental illnesses in individuals with a predisposition to mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia.
In the book The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn Saks she shares intimately about her battle with schizophrenia that all started after her first experience with marijuana.
She thought the hallucinations and thoughts that came and stayed for days were all normal and so she didn’t tell her parents out of fear of being punished for having smoked marijuana.
I’ve worked with a handful of schizophrenic patients who had their first schizophrenic experience after smoking marijuana and initially thought that their experience was typical until much later when the hallucinations and delusions didn’t go away for days, weeks or never.
These people all had a predisposition to schizophrenia which seemed to be activated after they started smoking marijuana. If they hadn’t started smoking marijuana, that doesn’t mean some other life event wouldn’t have activated the gene, but who knows.
Teens argue with me that marijuana is not addicting, but it is. Marijuana is psychologically addicting, why else do people who are regular marijuana users do the some of the same things people addicted to harder drugs do when they are addicted?
Some of the signs of being addicted to anything is when that thing starts to interfere with and effect your life negatively.
Teens I’ve worked with who claim not to be addicted to marijuana have:
- Missed numerous days of school to stay home and smoke mariuana
- Come to school high and thus got expelled
- Got caught smoking marijuana at school and thus got expelled
- Got pulled over while driving and smoking marijuana
- Have violated their probation for smoking marijuana after being on probation for marijuana in the first place
- Have lost jobs for smoking marijuana on their lunch break
- Have stolen from family and friends to support their marijuana use
- Have damaged relationships with family and friends over their marijuana use
- Can’t get jobs because they can’t refrain from marijuana long enough to pass a drug test
These are all signs of addiction. These are all the same things people with cocaine, crack, heroin, alcohol and crystal meth addictions do. Yet these teens still think they aren’t and can’t be addicted to marijuana.
Then they argue that marijuana should just be legal. I’m not going to argue that point here, but even if marijuana was legal it still wouldn’t be available to people under 18 and most likely, not to people under 21.
Even then, employers would probably put in place rules where you couldn’t either test positive for marijuana or at the least, not come to work high. Same goes for places of higher education, the department of motor vehicles and such.
So while teens think legalizing marijuana will mean a free pass to smoke at will, it actuality won’t.
Marijuana use also leads to a higher risk of experimenting with other drugs and I’ve seen enough teens using hard drugs that started with marijuana to know that this is indeed true.
No teen I know who smokes weed can imagine smoking crack, but most people I know who smoke crack started off by smoking weed and didn’t see the day coming when they would be smoking crack or shooting heroin.
I’m not saying marijuana is all bad or trying to bash people who use it, but I do know one think for certain, and that’s that no teenager should be smoking or experimenting with marijuana, especially as their brains are still developing and they have enough trouble making good decision when they aren’t influenced by substances as it is.
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