With marijuana frequently in the news, there are many misconceptions about it. It's important to understand marijuana is a powerful drug of addiction that does lasting harm to adolescents - in some ways, it's even more devastating than it is for adults.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug around the world. A Schedule 1 controlled substance, it has widespread effects throughout the entire body. It comes from the parts - particularly the leaves - of the cannabis sativa plant, which are commonly dried and smoked.

Marijuana is highly psychoactive, interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain. Although it can be used under careful medical supervision to treat some conditions, its effects on kids and teens are profoundly negative and dangerous.

Although it is typically smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, it can also be found in a wide variety of other forms. It can be vaporized, brewed into tea, applied directly, or eaten in baked goods. With that in mind, it's crucial for adults to be alert to possible signs of abuse.

Marijuana Risks

The risk of psychological and physical dependency on marijuana is extremely high, even among casual users. Memory, concentration, thinking, coordination, and movement are all areas that are impaired within a very short time of coming into contact with marijuana.

Since marijuana can inhibit memory creation and attention, it makes it difficult for young people to maintain their obligations in school, within the family, or at work. Slipping grades and lack of interest in activities, including class, are typically the first sign of a problem.

Marijuana also reduces motor control, which greatly worsens risks for young drivers. Combined with impaired judgment, it may cause an enhanced likelihood of auto accidents. When mixed with alcohol or other substances, marijuana can contribute to a fatal reaction.

Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction can occur suddenly and might happen even if marijuana is used rarely: One time can be enough to produce addiction. Addiction is somewhat more likely to occur in younger users and in those who use marijuana more frequently.

Marijuana addiction is similar in presentation to addiction to other forms of painkillers. When a person suffers from substance abuse, he or she will seek out the substance and may engage in risky behaviors to acquire it. At the same time, more of the substance is needed to produce familiar effects - so, users are more apt to use an amount that will produce severe, acute symptoms.

Marijuana Withdrawal Cannabis withdrawal is uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. Withdrawal starts within just two days of cessation and may take several weeks. During this time, the addiction sufferer may feel anxious and irritable. He or she is likely to have sleep disturbances and suppressed appetite.

Signs to Look For

Marijuana is a depressant, meaning it slows down the central nervous system. A combination of lethargy and difficulty concentrating appears in most younger users. This can be noticeable as they withdraw from activities that they were once interested in.

Teens and adolescents are especially prone to engage in dangerous risk-taking to maintain their access to marijuana. Caregivers should be wary if a young person starts attending more parties than usual, staying up all night, sleeping in later than usual, or skipping class.

Although physical signs of marijuana use can be subtle, look for bloodshot eyes and binge eating ("the munchies") which typically accompany marijuana use. These symptoms will generally subside within an hour or two after discontinuing use for the day.

Wilderness therapy can help young people overcome marijuana addiction in a safe and supportive environment. To learn more, contact WinGate Wilderness Therapy.

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