As marijuana heads for the mainstream, children are at risk
There’s no denying that marijuana is growing in popularity and acceptance within the United States, especially when taking into account that it is legal or at least decriminalized in twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia. While it’s true that there are positive uses for marijuana, such as treating chronic pain as well as illnesses like Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, the rapid proliferation of the drug has made it difficult to track and control, which makes it much more easily accessible to minors, bringing with it a whole host issues, the most troubling of which is an early normalization of casual drug use that could lead to harder drugs in the future.
The dangers of early drug use
Because the brain does not fully mature until someone is in roughly their mid-twenties, children in high school and junior high who start recreationally smoking marijuana are extremely susceptible to dangers of cognitive impairment. Additionally, while marijuana is generally not considered “addictive” in the sense that it does not instill a physical craving in the user like other, harder drugs, it still can be a triggering factor for addiction, especially there is a genetic predisposition for it. Early use of marijuana makes children not only associate it with fun, therefore working to rewire their immature brains with the strong potential to make it habit-forming. Most pressing though, as we previously mentioned, creating an atmosphere that normalizes drug use could make marijuana serve as a gateway to harsher drugs that carry with them more intense physical, mental, and legal consequences. A recent study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 16 to 25-year-olds had the highest rates of illicit drug use at around twenty percent, as opposed to people 26 and older, whose average rate was less than ten percent. In 2011, more than 2.5 million Americans aged twelve and older were diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder, and these numbers show no sign of going down.
While many people want to celebrate the growing mainstream acceptance of marijuana, it’s important to keep in mind the potential dangers of making it more accessible, and the effect this can have on children and teens, who’s not yet fully-developed brains stand to be the most harmed by marijuana use. While it might not seem like it at first, smoking marijuana while in junior high and high school greatly increases the potential of these children struggling with addiction to stronger drugs later in life. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, Call Ridgeview Ranch Today at (800) 296-1868. We’re Here to Help!