Major changes in marijuana legislation have signaled a changing public perception of marijuana. But have the perceptions changed so much that young people no longer even think marijuana is a drug?
Some experts claim this disturbing misconception is becoming a trend.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federally-funded research institute, reports that over the past five years teen marijuana use has risen in America, while fewer teens believe marijuana is harmful to health or development.
Damon Raskin, MD, an addiction expert who works with teens, reinforces the survey data with his own experience at an addiction treatment facility in California. In an interview with Addiction Professional, Raskin stated, “When I ask the young people I see to tell me which drugs they’ve been using, they may not even say marijuana. They’ll list cocaine, Vicodin. When I mention marijuana, they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah.’ They don’t even consider that a drug. They might say, ‘That’s my medicine.’”
Raskin’s statements point to the possibility that even teenagers are learning to self-medicate with marijuana for their depression, anxiety and unhappiness. Those who learn to self-medicate at an early age go on to have higher levels of substance abuse later in life.
The perception on the part of youths that marijuana is “medicine” and not a risky drug may be due to the increased availability of medical cannabis. Vape pens are also thought to be harmless. While it’s true that cannabis has a range of specific medical purposes, such as reducing inflammation in arthritis patients, teenagers who self-medicate with cannabis face serious developmental problems. There are also several long-term effects of vaping that are still being discovered.
Research on the effects of marijuana for the development of young people is limited, but studies have shown some startling trends. Youthful pot smokers tend to underachieve in school and at work, and also may even have lower adult IQ’s. The brain continues to develop into the early and mid-twenties, and adding a drug like marijuana early on can be incredibly harmful.
As more states legalize recreational marijuana use, the perception of marijuana’s dangers is likely to continue to diminish unless more education is provided to young people.
For those young people who currently self-medicate with marijuana or struggle with other forms of substance abuse, getting treatment early will provide a path to a better future. Banyan Treatment Center offers industry-leading treatment for teens and young adults in a sunny, South Florida setting. Call Banyan today to learn about rehab near the beach for young people.