Across the United States , Teenagers are Becoming Less Aware of the Dangers of Marijuana Use.

While negative influences abound, positive messages reinforcing a drug-free lifestyle seem scarcer all the time. More responsibility than ever falls on the parents of our teens to educate them of the pitfalls of marijuana — a gateway drug. New data suggests a connection between perceived risk and frequency of use, along with an increase in escalation to more dangerous drugs after experimenting with marijuana.

According to The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), 2011, past-month marijuana use among teens was 27 percent — up a staggering 42 percent from 2008, and marking an upward trend in teen marijuana use the past three years. These disturbing statistics hint at a more relaxed opinion of the drug among teens, which leads to heavier use.


While the PATS data reflect that about half of teens seemingly disapprove of their peers using marijuana, the data also found among teens a decrease in perceived risk involved with smoking the dangerous drug. The still small voice of anti-drug messages is waning in the face of negative pressures from pot enthusiasts, causing more and more teens to use marijuana early and often.


We can assume from the findings in the study that if more teens are using marijuana more regularly, then more teens will experiment and transition to more dangerous drugs and substances. Regular and heavy teen marijuana users are significantly more likely to use substances like cocaine (30 times more likely), Ecstasy (20 times more likely), and abuse prescription pain relievers (15 times more likely), according to PATS data. Now, teens are not only at risk of becoming addicted to marijuana, they are more likely to develop an addiction to hard-core drugs as a result.

At the root of the alarming potential trends is the decrease in perceived risk. We are losing the war for our teens’ attention, and the cost will be dear if perceptions are not changed.


Still believe the myth that marijuana’s not a gateway drug? Not only are heavy pot users more likely to experiment with heavier drugs, they are also in as much risk of developing cancer as a heavy cigarette smoker. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same carcinogens found in cigarettes and often in higher concentrations. Studies have shown that someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

Many people know the typical short-term effects of marijuana use — dry-mouth, anxiety or paranoia, decreased motor skills — but more disturbing are the long-term effects, which quickly can escalate into lifelong issues for abusers. The most common effect is “amotivational syndrome,” in which abusers suffer from a chronic lack of interest in their future and cease to care about things that used to be important to them. Also, as their tolerance for the narcotic agents in marijuana increase, the abuser needs larger and larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same high. This also contributes to the gateway process — once the user stops experiencing the high, he or she escalates use to other drugs to make up the difference.


Source:  3rd June 2012

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