The familiar smell of weed might make you nostalgic about your own youth, but it also alerts you to the fact that your teen or tween is growing up sooner than you expected. The growing trend of younger and younger people smoking marijuana is not just alarming on a social level, but is playing havoc on the physical and mental health of this new breed of nirvana seekers.
According to the latest update to the annual Monitoring the Future survey of drug abuse in American youth, smoking marijuana has brought down the popularity of alcohol and hard core drugs among this age group, but it has unleashed its own set of debilitating affects on the current generation. And another recent research, a joint collaboration of Duke University and University of Otago, New Zealand, states that kids who start smoking weed regularly before the age of 18 experience a dramatic fall in their IQ in future years. The research was conducted on almost 1000 subjects born within 1972 to 1973. During this research the subjects were interviewed about five times between the ages of 13 and 38. Among these subjects, those who had developed an addiction to marijuana, demonstrated slower brain activity in general and their IQ level had fallen dramatically within this period. Pop culture's representation of marijuanna doesn't help matters either.
Parents who are wondering what a research on brain activity of teens in New Zealand got to do with American teens, these figures might serve as a wake-up call:
Strength in Numbers
According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services and a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), across America children as young as 8th, 10th and 12th graders are smoking marijuana on a routine basis. Almost 6.5% of high schoolers are smoking marijuana on a daily basis and 3.5% of 10th graders smoke weed regularly. Apart from these statistics, another alarming disclosure made in this report was that almost all of the students questioned for this survey considered marijuana as a healthier alternate to other hardcore drugs.
The Evolution of Marijuana
How do you use marijuana to hurt yourself is a question all parents should ask their teens. The director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, the type of marijuana being used today is a much more potent form of weed. The main psychoactive substance in today's marijuana may still be delta-9-tetrahydrocannabino, or "THC" , but its potency has almost doubled within the past 15 years. Which is why not only are more and more kids becoming permanently dependent on this seemingly recreational drug, but cases of marijuana OD are now quite rampant in emergency rooms across the country.
Smoking pot may have been an apt means of making a statement back in the days when you were young, since it was a matter of choice when to start and when to grow-up. Today however, things are not as simple. According to the Caron’s Adolescent Treatment Center, it is no longer about how do you smoke marijuana and how frequently, you will experience withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, anxiety attacks and major depression anyways and that too for periods longer then considered normal previously. But these are just the short term affects of smoking pot.
Due to the increased potency of marijuana today, more and more kids are becoming psychologically dependent on marijuana. Instead of learning natural skills for handling stressful events, challenges and disappointment in routine life, kids are now using the crutch of marijuana to help them deal with challenging emotional turmoil common at their age, develop a fake sense of confidence when high on marijuana and as a relaxant and sedative. This prolonged and frequent use of weed not only hampers normal brain activity, accelerates the degeneration of grey cells but results in a dramatic fall in IQ level as well.
Another very alarming aspect for parents to consider when reprimanding teens on the use of marijuana is this: recently Students Against Destructive Decisions or SADD as it is popularly known, conducted a survey of almost 2,300 students of 11th and 12th grade and discovered that 20% of teens drive under the influence of marijuana, out of which 30% believe marijuana doesn’t affect their driving skills. This is undoubtedly a dangerous trend, not just for the marijuana smoking teens but for all those who might end up becoming victims of such reckless behavior.