Marijuana Use Ups the Risk of Abusing More Potent Drugs

For Michael Murtaugh, who spent his adolescence consuming drugs, running has provided a new lease of life. According to him, “running is still legal in all the 50 states of America,” which is not the case as far as smoking pot is concerned. In fact, the latter has the nation divided.

Furthermore, the pursuance of a “runner’s high” hardly costs anything, while indulgence in substance abuse could invariably lead to job loss, incarceration, ill health, or in some cases even death. There is no such risk involved when one gets a natural “endorphin rush” from a run.

Michael’s story is no different from the countless other victims of “pot” and “alcohol.” Many like him experiment with drugs and other substances to mask the pain of a childhood abuse. Some may inadvertently get into drug abuse due to the early exposure to drugs by family members, friends, etc.

With the legalization of recreational pot use, serious concerns have been raised over the impact of such a significant change over adolescents. The change will not only lower the perception of risk of marijuana among youngsters, but also encourage them to indulge in marijuana abuse. In the light of such a landmark shift in the domain of substance abuse, it is time to reflect upon the repercussions on adolescents.

Adolescence and substance abuse

Adolescence and substance abuse are often closely linked, which increases the likelihood of developing lasting changes in the neural pathways of the brain. That could exacerbate the habit, leading to a deadly addiction. Considering such a close relationship, any kind of leeway has the potential to increase the rate of substance abuse and developing mental disorders.

As marijuana is a gateway drug, the probability that its prolonged use leading to experimenting with hard stuff, such as heroin and meth, is quite high. This has been corroborated by the ordeal of Michael, who started smoking pot at a relatively young age of 11 and eventually took to drinking alcohol and doing harder stuff, such as cocaine and meth. At 45, a drug weary Michael realized that he needed a new lease of life, one that would not make him a prisoner of drugs. Thereafter, it has been a long and arduous journey toward reform and sobriety.

With increasing public support for marijuana laws more than before, it has become essential to discuss the social and health-related consequences. The increased social acceptance can become a driving force behind the rise in substance abuse and drug-impaired driving. Of all, the tendency to experiment with harder drugs can pose a major problem for youngsters.

Teens don’t consider pot risky

With the use of recreational marijuana or pot becoming legal in eight states in the U.S. and in the District of Columbia, the possibility of teens advertently or inadvertently using the drug is quite high. Michael’s case is not an isolated incident, there are many children in America who are increasingly getting hooked on the drug because they see many adults around them smoking “pot.” What is even more alarming is the fact that many adolescents do not consider the practice of smoking marijuana or pot to be harmful for their health.

As per the recently released statistics, there was a decrease in the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who believed that smoking marijuana once a month or one to two times constituted a “great risk.” One of the greatest dangers of marijuana use comes from the psychoactive agent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is present in higher concentrations than in the past.

Pot use is associated with abnormal brain development and is believed to impair memory, concentration and executive functioning skills. The prolonged use can spiral into a full-fledged addiction in future. Therefore, new recommendations advocating the screening of adolescents and preteens for marijuana use plays a crucial role in determining whether those kids would benefit from interventions or not. It is also imperative that parents set standards (by avoiding smoking or vaping marijuana or doing any sort of drugs in the child’s presence).

Recovery road map

Marijuana, one of the most commonly used illicit drugs under the federal law, has the potential to inflict a range of problems, such as euphoria, impaired memory, cognitive impairments, increased heart rate, paranoia, etc. The other long-term effects of marijuana abuse include respiratory problems, cardiovascular risks, psychological dependence, etc.