As restrictions on marijuana use loosen up around the country, many teens, and even some adults, don’t consider weed use a big deal. But it is a big deal. When it comes to teenagers and weed, it can have dangerous consequences on their development and other aspects of their lives. As we explore the impact marijuana use can have on teens, we’ll also tell you how to seek treatment for your teen if they are using weed.
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Dangers of Teens Using Weed
Teenagers and marijuana use is widespread; more than one-third of U.S. high school students have reported lifetime use of marijuana.1 Teens using the drug may not realize the dangers using it can cause. These include:
Potential for Addiction
Using drugs of any kind poses a threat of addiction. Statistics show that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have a marijuana use disorder.1 The risk of addiction is greater in people who start during their teen years and who use marijuana more frequently.
Risk of Mental Health Issues
Marijuana use has been linked to depression and anxiety, increasing the risk of hallucinations and paranoia. Those who start using at a young age also have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia.
Driving while using weed is extremely dangerous, not to mention illegal. Using marijuana impairs judgment, reaction time, and coordination.
Difficulty Thinking and Solving Problems
When it comes to teenagers and weed, using marijuana results in a lack of concentration that impacts their ability to solve problems and think clearly.
Poor Decision-Making Skills
Using weed can also impact teens’ decision-making skills, leading to poor choices. This can put them in dangerous situations they may not normally face if they were not under the influence.
Weed’s Impact on Teen Brain Development
One of the most concerning impacts of weed use in teens is in the area of brain development. This is mainly because the human brain continues to develop and mature into the early and mid-20s. This means using marijuana as a teen can have long-lasting effects. Let’s explore some of them.
Reasoning & Executive Function
Research shows that marijuana use can impact the development of the cerebral cortex. This is the brain’s center of reasoning and executive function.2 One study found that the greater the amount of marijuana, the greater the thinning of the prefrontal cortex was. Cortical thinning was linked to impulsivity, but no other link to cognitive function was found in this particular study.
Studies have also found that marijuana use lowers a teen’s IQ. Specifically, those who smoke marijuana before they turn 18 showed an average permanent loss of 8 IQ points.3
Research has also pointed to memory problems later in life for those who use marijuana at a young age.4
How Do I Know My Teen is Using Weed?
As you can see, teenagers and weed use can impact a teen’s life. This is why it’s more important than ever to be able to recognize the signs that your teen is using weed.
Here are some things to look for:
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Elevated hunger or having the “munchies”
- Delayed reaction times
- Mood swings
- Unusual fatigue
- Paranoia or anxiousness
If you notice any of these signs in your teen, it’s important to consult a professional and get them the help they need before they spiral out of control
Does Your Teen Have a Weed Addiction? Contact Ember Recovery
Ember Recovery helps teens with a variety of drug addictions, including marijuana. We offer programs tailored to teens and the struggles they face when it comes to substance abuse.
Send us a message online or call us today to learn more about how we can help your child.
Sources: ttps://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/teens.html#:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/01/30/marijuana-adolescent-brain-development/  https://childmind.org/article/teenage-marijuana-use-affect-iq/  https://www.consultant360.com/exclusives/study-marijuana-use-affects-brain-structure-long-term-memory
Andrea Dickerson is a Licensed Therapist and Certified Substance Use Counselor who has worked in behavioral health since 1997. Currently, Andrea is the Director of Behavioral Health, overseeing the Ember residential treatment programs and YSS outpatient counseling clinics throughout Central and North Central Iowa. She became a Motivational Interviewing (MI) trainer in 2006 and provides MI trainings throughout Iowa.
Andrea specializes in working with adolescents and their families and enjoys seeing the family relationships grow through therapy. Andrea is also a CARF International Surveyor, going around North America ensuring behavioral health organizations are meeting required standards.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs, as well as being an active member of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA), a global organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. She has been a member of the SI of Des Moines club since 2012 and has been actively involved at the regional level, currently serving as Co-Governor of the Peaks to Plains Region.
Through her involvement in SIA, Andrea has been actively involved in the Dream Programs, coordinating annual Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls projects, which give girls the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, empowering them to break cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse.