21 Mar Is Drug Treatment Necessary For Marijuana Use?
A big question in the minds of many parents is whether or not drug treatment or sober living is necessary for marijuana use. Should parents be concerned about marijuana use? Is marijuana experimentation an indicator of future, more dangerous drug abuse? Could it be a sign of underlying psychological or behavioral issues?
Marijuana: A Gateway Drug or Not?
The question of whether marijuana is a gateway drug is a controversial topic. Many people view marijuana as being a fairly harmless drug, something that shouldn’t evoke much concern. Others believe that marijuana use contributes to teens making the decision to experiment with other illicit drugs that may be much more dangerous than marijuana. With the current political climate gearing towards legalization, these are important questions to ask and topics to discuss.
The concept of a gateway drug is up for debate, but one thing is for certain. Many teens and young adults find their way to harder drugs through drug dealers – individuals they would not have known if they had not had a relationship with someone from whom they could acquire weed. Whether this is causal or correlative is unclear, but the bottom line is that there is a connection between illegal drug markets. The argument that legalization would prevent this is again up for debate, but would ultimately be irrelevant for teenagers and young adults under the legal age, because they would still turn to black market sources for the drug. Either way it’s cut, there is a link between the two things.
Regardless of whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug, there are negative consequences associated with teen marijuana use. Marijuana is the most commonly abused substance among teens in society today. While many teens and young adults never make the decision to move on to more dangerous and addictive drugs, many do in fact stunt the development of healthy coping skills through marijuana use. There are long term developmental effects to using marijuana while the brain is not fully formed (a process that does not finish until around the age of 25, current research is showing). Parents should educate teens about the risks associated with using the drug. Parental leniency is a huge contributing factor when it comes to teens and young adults smoking pot.
Parental Leniency Greatly Contributes to Marijuana Use
A big problem with teenage and young adult marijuana abuse is the permissive attitude that many parents take to it. Parents that allow their child to smoke weed, or any other drug, are sending the wrong message to their child. Demonstrating an attitude of leniency regarding drugs greatly contributes to the potential development of substance abuse issues. Teens rely on adults for established expectations and rules. Parents often serve as one of the most influential role models in their child’s life. Although some parents may view marijuana as being safer than alcohol and other illicit drugs, the developing adolescent brain’s healthy growth is impeded by ingesting the drug. Regardless of a parent’s personal beliefs surrounding pot, this makes it very dangerous to allow teens and young adults to use it. Setting a tone of drug abuse acceptance creates an environment where the jump to harder drugs is much easier to make. Abstinence from drugs and alcohol is the only way to ensure that a teen won’t develop substance abuse issues.
Marijuana Abuse Can Be Just as Detrimental as Other Illicit Drug Abuse
Many parents believe that addiction treatment isn’t necessary for a teen that is using marijuana. This is not necessarily true. The most important thing to consider when drugs and teens or young adults are involved, is why the drug use is taking place. Once an addictive pattern of behavior develops, new dangers and concerns come into play. Although marijuana is viewed as being less dangerous than other illicit drugs, any addiction should be treated seriously. Teens that are addicted to marijuana are often unable to function normally in everyday life. Marijuana use can disrupt the adolescent developing brain, affecting areas of the brain that deal with memory and problem solving. This can have a negative impact on an adolescent’s cognitive abilities and academic performance. Teens that abuse marijuana exhibit the same characteristics as an individual addicted to other dangerous illicit drugs. More important than the specific drug that someone is addicted to is what drives that addiction and how it is affecting their life and the lives of those around them. Again, it is important for parents to understand that the main concern isn’t what drug their teen is abusing but why they are abusing that drug.
Substance Abuse is a Symptom of Underlying Issues
Parents should be aware that substance abuse is a symptom of underlying issues. Depression, anxiety, trauma, low self-esteem, peer pressure, genetics and environment are some of the contributing factors that may encourage a teen to make the decision to abuse drugs or alcohol. Although substance abuse is often the most alarming issue for parents, the underlying issues must be addressed in order for an individual to recover from substance abuse issues. Asking why it is that an individual feels the need to check out from life is usually more important than focusing on the specific drugs being abused. More often than not once addiction has started, some form of structured program is necessary for recovery to occur, especially for young adults and teens. The best way to combat addiction to any drug, is to look at and address the underlying issues that are contributing to it.
Pot smoking may be an attempt at self-medicating in order to gain some relief from an underlying issue or a reflection of unresolved trauma. If one of these things is going on, there is a good chance to it will ultimately lead to harder drug use or drinking. Any drug or alcohol use should be taken seriously and family members shouldn’t ignore the issue. If a parent is concerned that their teen is using drugs or alcohol, it is imperative that they take action. Confronting the problem is the first step. Experimentation and casual drug or alcohol use can rapidly develop into abuse, dependence or addiction.
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