Marijuana Abuse on the Rise
Marijuana Use and Abuse; All About the Drug and its Use
Marijuana is a naturally occurring drug that comes from the cannabis plant. Marijuana has been smoked by humans for thousands of years, and the use of this drug has cropped up in different civilizations all across the planet for millennia. Marijuana use has led to much controversy and argument. Without a doubt, the tides are beginning to turn with the general American concept on marijuana. In fact, this drug is becoming more and more popular, and more and more Americans surveyed believe that marijuana is not harmful or addictive. This is proven by the simple fact that three states have now completely legalized the sale and use of marijuana.
This is a tricky issue however. While marijuana is not by far the most dangerous or deadliest drug available, the drug does have significant downsides that are often, and direly so, overlooked. Marijuana does create addiction, but not in as high of a percentage of individuals who take it as drugs like heroin and cocaine do. Marijuana is also the number one gateway drug in America. As is proven below, individuals who go on to abuse hard street drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol almost all start with marijuana abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of the Addictive Use of Marijuana
The most difficult aspect to marijuana use and abuse is how to tell when one is using and abusing marijuana in an addictive or potentially dangerous way. Ideally, marijuana use should be discouraged, (particularly amongst young adults), but the real critical thing to know is when one is exhibiting symptoms that show an actual addiction to marijuana. To assist the reader in learning the truth about a family member’s, loved one’s, or friend’s use of marijuana, a list of signs, symptoms, behaviors, and physical manifestations has been included below to show when an individual’s usage of marijuana has truly become dangerous:
- Distorted perceptions
- Impaired coordination
- Difficulty in thinking and problem solving
- Ongoing problems with learning and memory
- Red, blurry, bloodshot eyes
- Constant, mucus-filled cough
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hunger, referred to as munchies
- Dry mouth
- Anxiety, paranoia, or fear
- Poor memory
- Poor coordination
- Slow reaction time
- Loss of control
- Decreased appetite, which can trigger disordered eating
- Drug craving
Marijuana Abuse in the United States; a Critical Issue that is Going Nowhere but Up
Particularly interesting and definitely warranting serious attention and addressment is the strong increase in the use and abuse of marijuana in the United States, particularly amongst teenagers. The key issue here is that, if marijuana is not addictive, then why would more and more Americans abuse it every single year? The truth is that, while this drug is not as dangerous as other drugs, marijuana is still a drug, it still creates addictions, it inspires more drug abuse on more severe levels, and it still causes deaths and suffering amongst thousands of Americans every year.
To try and figure out the exact degree to which marijuana was becoming more and more prevalent in American life, and to try and come up with preventative methods to effectively combat this massive increase, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, (NSDUH), and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), all worked together to study, examine, review, survey, and analyze the current marijuana issue that has surfaced in the U.S. today. Listed below are just a few of the statistics that were found from these various studies:
- Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the U.S. In fact, nearly seventy million Americans over the age of twelve have tried marijuana at least once.
- About ten million of Americans who have ever tried marijuana have also become addicted to it.
- Alarmingly, about twenty-one percent of all tenth graders surveyed are legitimately addicted to marijuana.
- Among high school seniors surveyed in the year 1997, current marijuana use has increased by about seventy-two percent since the year 1991.
- The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) found adolescents who smoke pot to be more than eighty-five times more likely to use cocaine than their non–pot smoking peers.
- CASA also found that a fully sixty percent of youngsters who use marijuana before they turn fifteen then later go on to use cocaine.
- Marijuana legitimately lowers the intelligence of those who use it. In one survey, it was found that fifty-nine percent of marijuana-using students reported forgetting what a conversation was about before the conversation was ended.
- Marijuana use also severely inhibits the ability to study and learn. Forty-one percent of students surveyed reported that if they read while stoned, they remembered less of what they had read.
- A 1995 study of college students discovered that for one to three days after their last use of the drug, heavy marijuana users were unable to focus, sustain attention, and organize data.
- Individuals who use marijuana while operating a vehicle are statistically speaking just as likely to get into an accident as drunk drivers are. Data has shown that people high on marijuana show the same lack of coordination on standard “drunk driver” tests as do people who have had too much to drink.
- A Memphis, TN study of 150 arrested reckless drivers found that 33% tested positive for marijuana and an additional 12% tested positive for both marijuana and alcohol.
- The THC content of marijuana averaged less than one percent in 1974, and averaged four percent in 1994, and averaged more than seven percent in 2004.
- Someone who smokes five joints per week is likely to be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes every single day.
- An average marijuana cigarette contains nearly fifty percent more of the cancer-causing chemical benzopyrene than the average tobacco cigarette.
- Marijuana leads to or is at least an accessory to death, thought this is not reported often in the media. To prove this, it was found that marijuana is the second most common drug, after alcohol, present in the blood of non-fatally and fatally injured persons alike.
- In 1995, 165,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse, showing they need help to stop using the drug and that they were in fact addicted to the drug.
Marijuana Addiction Rehabilitation
Without a doubt, marijuana use and abuse is on the rise, and dangerously so. The best solution for a marijuana addiction lies in a course through a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Marijuana addiction is best addressed with professional assistance, counselors, therapies, group sessions, electives, life skills classes, cognitive behavioral therapy, moral recognition therapy, aftercare, relapse prevention, coping strategies, and other methods.
For those who are currently addicted to marijuana, it is highly advised that they seek out rehabilitation as soon as is physically possible. Marijuana abuse more often than not leads to other drug abuse, so this must be addressed as soon as possible.