Understanding the Effects of Marijuana on Teens

effects of marijuana on teensBefore the 1960s, many Americans had never heard of marijuana, but today it is the most often used illegal drug in the United States.

Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug; it contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. It may also contain more than 400 other harmful chemicals. Marijuana’s effect on the user depends on the strength or potency of the THC it contains. THC potency has increased since the 1970s and continues to increase still.

What are the long-term effects of marijuana use?

Findings show that regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in some kinds of cancer and in problems with the respiratory, immune and reproductive systems.

  • Cancer
    Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations.
  • Lungs and Airways
    People who smoke marijuana often tend to develop the same kinds of breathing problems as cigarette smokers. Teens need to know that smoking marijuana can make them suffer frequent coughing, phlegm production and wheezing and they will tend to get more chest colds.
  • Immune System
    Animal studies have found that THC can damage the cells and tissues that help protect people from disease.
  • Reproductive System
    Heavy use of marijuana can affect both male and female hormones. Young men could have delayed puberty because of THC effects. Young women may find the drug disturbs their monthly cycle (ovulation and menstrual periods).

When the early effects of using marijuana fade, the user can become very sleepy. Parents should be aware of changes in their child’s behavior, although this may be difficult with teens. In addition, parents should be aware of:

  • Drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers
  • Use of incense and other deodorizers
  • Use of eye drops

Are there treatments to help marijuana users?

Yes, Gateway offers substance abuse treatment programs to help adults and adolescents that may be abusing marijuana. Gateway programs include After-School Treatment Programs for teens and adolescents so they can stay in school and, therefore, treatment won’t interrupt school progress. Residential programs are also available, if needed, that provide educational services which work in collaboration with an adolescent’s own school district to support uninterrupted academic progress.

If you have questions or are concerned about a teen or adolescent you know, contact Gateway and let us provide you with the answers you need.

Gateway offers a free, in-depth, confidential screening to determine the nature and extent of your adolescent or teenager’s alcohol or drug problem. Contact us today at 877-505-HOPE (877-505-4673).

Helping Older Adults with Substance Abuse Issues

substance abuse older adults1The professional staff at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment design innovative, effective and affordable drug rehab and alcohol treatment to serve the special needs of older adults, 55 and older and their families.

The signs of alcohol abuse and medication dependence in adults 55 and older are different from a younger person. They often drink at home alone so no one notices the severity of the substance abuse.

Many older adults or seniors are retired, so they don’t have work-related problems due to alcohol or drug abuse. They drive less, so there’s less opportunity for them to get arrested for driving under the influence

Aging, Disease and Substance Abuse

Many of the symptoms listed below are attributed to other diseases or are considered part of the aging process. However, many older adults find that once they achieve sobriety, these symptoms disappear.

Older Adult Substance Abuse Test

The following signs and symptoms are typical of older adults or seniors requiring drug rehab or alcohol treatment:

Please answer every question. If a question is not applicable, select No.

Yes No
Drinks alone, hidden from others.
Drinks alone, hidden from others. Makes a ritual of having drinks before, with or after dinner. Becomes annoyed when this ritual is disturbed.
Has lost interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure.
Drinks in spite of warning labels on prescription drugs.
Suffers from alcohol-related health problems.
Has bottles of tranquilizers on hand and takes them at the slightest sign of disturbance.
Is often intoxicated or slightly tipsy, and sometimes has slurred speech.
Suffers from tremors and shakes.
Drinks despite health problems.
Frequently expresses a wish to die
Often has the smell of liquor on his or her breath or uses mouthwash to disguise it.
Is neglecting personal appearance and gaining or losing weight.
Complains of constant sleeplessness, loss of appetite or chronic health problems that seem to have no physical cause.
Has unexplained burns or bruises and tries to hide them.
Neglects home, bills, pets, etc.
Can’t handle routine chores and paperwork without making mistakes.
Has irrational or undefined fears and delusions, or seems under unusual stress.
Seems to be losing his or her memory.
Appears to be depressed.
Has problems with urinary incontinence.
Suffers from heart arrhythmia.

Answering “yes” to 2 or more questions above may indicate a problem with alcohol or drugs.

For help or to schedule a free confidential screening, call 877-505-HOPE (877-505-4673).

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