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).

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