Teens + Marijuana
Besides alcohol, marijuana is the most popular drug of choice in the United
States. It looks like dried parsley with stems and seeds and is green, brown
or grey. Most drug use begins with marijuana, and leads to more serious drugs.
Users smoke it, roll it in cigarette papers, hollowed-out cigars (blunts),
pipes or water pipes (bongs). It can be mixed into foods (brownies) or brewed
as a tea.
Unlike when we were growing up, there are now studies that show how marijuana
can have long-term negative effects on the brain. For example, researchers at Northwestern University explored the relationship
between the casual use of marijuana and brain changes for young adults. They
used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze different parts of the brain. Those
who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities
in two significant brain structures. The areas that were affected are the ones
responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. Just
occasional use can cause damage to these pretty important parts of the brain.
Researchers believe casual marijuana use among teens can also result in
amotivational syndrome, a psychological condition that can cause people to
become less oriented toward their goals and purposes in life. Which is hard
enough with your ordinary teen-but they usually grow out of it. BUT with
casual marijuana use, they might not.
Bienville Parish Teens and Marijuana Use
According to the 2014 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey in Bienville
- Approximately 8% of Bienville Parish high school students used marijuana in
the past 30 days.
- 10.4% of students in Grade 8 as compared to 29.8% in Grade 12 have used
marijuana in their lifetime, indicating that use typically increases with age.
Back in the day, we called marijuana pot, weed and Mary Jane. But you won’t believe how many slang terms there are now! Here’s a great list that can help you recognize current terminology and language about marijuana
and its’ many forms.
- Affects mood and coordination. Can cause mood swings from happy to depressed
- Increases appetite. Causes “the munchies”
- Elevates heart rate and blood pressure
- Causes bloodshot eyes
- Can cause paranoia or mild hallucinations
- Known to create psychological dependence in teens, as a stress reliever or “feel good” solution
- The body can demand more and more in order to achieve the same level of “high”
- Usually leads to more drug experimentation
- Significantly more potent than marijuana of the past, with dramatically
Talking About Marijuana
It’s more important than ever for parents to have the “marijuana conversation” with their kids—especially since there are a lot of misconceptions about marijuana. The good
news is, teens actually do listen to their parents, and more than you think!
- It’s never too early to talk to your child about marijuana.
- Ask what they think they know about marijuana, and then share facts with them.
Most kids don’t think it can be addictive, or that it can hurt brain development. Take the
time to do a little research before your conversation. Here’s a great fact sheet on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website
- Look for “teachable moments.” There are lots of stories about marijuana in the news. When you see one, ask
your child what they think about the story. Share your thoughts and feelings
- State your expectations clearly. Let them know marijuana use is not
acceptable, and let them know the consequences if they do use it.
- Discuss how marijuana can limit their future. Drug use can jeopardize a
scholarship, keep them off a sports team, hurt their grades and even result in
an arrest, which could lead to a permanent criminal record.
- One conversation isn’t enough. Make sure you bring up the topic every month or two. It’s important to do occasional “touch bases” about topics like marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.
New Study Links Childhood Overeating and Binge Eating with Future Marijuana
A new study by JAMA Pediatrics presents some startling information: children who overeat and binge—even if weight gain doesn’t result—will likely use marijuana and drugs in the future. Researchers were investigating the association of overeating (eating to
excess but without loss of control) and binge eating (overeating with loss of
control) with a number of negative health outcomes.
More than 17,000 youths (ages 9-15 at enrollment) were questioned every year
or two about their health status and behaviors for more than a decade. During
- 41% started using marijuana and 32% started using illicit drugs
- Youth who reported overeating were 2.7 times more likely to start using
marijuana or other drugs
- Binge eaters were 1.9 times more likely to start using drugs compared to their
- Neither binge eating or overeating was associated with binge drinking