Marijuana use is on the increase among teens

New data shows that teen’s perception of the harmfulness of marijuana is at its lowest levels since the data began being tracked in the late 1970s.

Due to the drug not carrying much of a perceived risk, data is also showing a steady increase in the use of marijuana among teens and first time use is being reported at earlier ages than ever seen before.

Marijuana use among children escalates after eighth grade and a study done by the University of Michigan found that more than 11 percent of 13-14 year olds surveyed report they used marijuana in the past year.

The same study showed that by the time these young teenagers become high school seniors, those numbers increased drastically, with more than one in five saying they smoked marijuana in the past month and more than one-third of them reporting they smoked it within the previous year.

Marijuana has long been seen as the gateway drug to other drugs and alcohol and that suggestion is still relevant today. Chronic drug users often report that marijuana was the first drug that they experimented with before moving on to other harmful drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

Teen’s low perception of risk with marijuana use is especially alarming due to National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reporting that 90 percent of addictions have roots in the teenage years. If teens continue to view marijuana use as non-risky, it’s like we are going to continue seeing use among teens, at even earlier ages, become more prevalent.

So why the increase in marijuana use among youth?

One possible thought is that the perception of risk has gone down since states have started legalizing the use of marijuana. This not only sends a message to teens that the drug isn’t as dangerous as it was once seen, but it also increases the availability and access that teens have to marijuana.

Dealers decrease in perceived dangers associated with the sale and possession of marijuana has allowed the drug to be moved more freely across state lines and into our cities.

We want to be clear that just because some states may be changing their laws to legalize the use of marijuana it does not change the detrimental effects drug use can have on a teen’s brain development.

Parents, you need to be informed that marijuana is slowly becoming a norm among teens. Even if your teen may not be using the drug themselves, the likelihood that they have been exposed to it in some form or another is highly likely.

Talk with your teen about marijuana as early as 12 years old to ensure they get the facts from a credible source, you.

Source: Thursday, February 7, 2013

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