Marijuana as a Gateway Drug Could Be Causing Nationwide Epidemic

teens using marijuana

A recent Yale study, which may be viewed online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, concluded that marijuana is definitely a gateway drug. The study focused on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 of young adults age 18-25 years old. It found that out of the 12 percent that admitted to abusing prescription drugs, 34 percent said that they had used marijuana in the past. It also showed that alcohol and cigarettes proved to be gateway substances as well. In addition, it found that those who had previously used marijuana were 2.5 times more likely to use prescription opioids.

The Potency Of Marijuana Continues To Increase

The University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project tests thousands of samples of seized marijuana plants every year. The project found that while most levels of THC (the chemical in marijuana that produces the high) topped off at 15 or 16 percent, some samples had levels exceeding 30 percent. This is an extreme increase compared to 4 percent of THC reportedly found in marijuana in 1983. With marijuana being one of the first drugs commonly experimented with as a teen or young adult, it is no wonder why many users may move on to other harder drugs. Once they’ve experienced the high from this extremely potent drug, others don’t seem as bad.

Warning Signs Of Marijuana Use

There are many signs to look for if you are concerned that a friend or loved one may be using marijuana. They may act giggly or silly for no apparent reason. They may appear dizzy and have trouble keeping their balance. They most likely will have red, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils and may feel very hungry or sleepy. You may also find actual evidence of drug use such as pipes and rolling papers or even the drug itself. Some additional changes in an individual’s behavior may also include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Constant fatigue or tiredness
  • Depression
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Hostility towards people and relationships
  • Changes in academic performances
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Anxiety
  • Deterioration in appearance.

Someone who uses marijuana daily may develop a dependency on the drug. When this happens they may need to smoke it just to feel normal and get through the day.

Long-term use can cause many problems and negative effects including memory loss and other cognitive losses such as the ability to learn and problem solve. It can also cause anxiety, depression and mood swings as well as more physical effects such as breathing problems and even cancer. By intervening and stopping marijuana use before it gets out of control, we can hope to decrease the number of kids who move on to experiment with other drugs. Inform children and young adults about the dangers of using marijuana and other drugs and give them alternative activities to become involved in.

In the case that you or someone you know is having trouble quitting the use of marijuana, the Narconon program may be the right choice. The sooner a marijuana problem is found and handled the more likely the individual is to be able to have a completely drug free life.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.