Marijuana continues to be a national favorite among illicit drugs, according to a recent study by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prescription drug abuse, binge drinking, hallucinogens and even tobacco use are down. Marijuana, on the other hand, remains at the top of the list, with the number of pot smokers rising to 7% of the population instead of the 5.8% in 2007.
SAMHSA surveyed seventy thousand people aged twelve and older, all representative of the entire country’s drug use. The poll determined that 8.7% of the population aged twelve and older admit to drug use, a total of approximately 22.5 million drug users across the U.S.
When American kids choose marijuana over prescription drugs, parents need to be educated on the use of the drug. Mainly to stop marijuana use but also because marijuana use often leads to prescription drug use and other drug addiction issues.
Marijuana comes from the dried leaves and other parts of the cannabis plant. It is typically rolled into a cigarette and smoked, and occasionally it is baked in food such as brownies. It can have a wide variety of effects. Usually it has depressant properties, meaning it slows down metabolic functions in the body, giving people a relaxed, drowsy feeling when they use it. Sometimes, however, it can have a stimulant effect, causing the heart rate to increase which can make the user anxious and jittery.
Marijuana slows mental capacity, causing memory problems, delayed reaction time, and smaller attention spans. For this reason, it causes accidents–on the job, on the road, and at home. Recent studies show that it may lower I.Q., especially if used while the brain is still developing during the teenage years.
So why is this drug so popular? It is touted as a “safe” drug, and it’s true, alcohol and tobacco cause more deaths per year directly. Very few people overdose on marijuana. Yet it causes impaired judgement thereby increasing accident risks. Roughly seven percent of drivers involved in automobile accidents tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Not only that, pot can be a gateway drug, leading to heavier drug use.
Other Effects Of Marijuana
Marijuana has a negative effect on the lungs, causing respiratory problems similar to tobacco. It can cause burning or stinging in the throat, chronic coughing, increased phlegm, more frequent acute chest ailments, increased risk of lung infections, and obstructed airways. Marijuana smoke is more carcinogenic than tobacco, and since pot smokers inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs for longer periods of time, it increases the risk of cancer.
Cannabis also has an impact on the heart. Shortly after smoking marijuana, the heartbeat increases and blood pressure drops. The heartbeat can increase by twenty to fifty beats per minute, or even more if combined with other drugs. A user’s risk for heart attack is four times higher within the first hour after smoking pot.
Marijuana can also cause delusions, hallucinations and disorientation, especially when used in large quantities. It affects coordination, thereby impeding athletic performance. It also has a tremendous impact on academic performance, due to its mental effects.
If a parent finds out that their child is using marijuana it is best to get them immediate and professional help. Letting a marijuana addiction continue will often cause the issue to get out of control not only with the use of more marijuana but other drugs like prescriptions and even illicit substances like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
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