Marijuana legalization has prompted heated debates among policymakers and the public alike, with some questioning whether the drug’s increased availability would influence its already rampant use among teens. While the potential impact of marijuana legalization on teen use was previously unclear, a new study has affirmed that the legalization of marijuana would prompt an increase in its use among high school students who would otherwise be unlikely to use the drug (1). Florida drug treatment center Suncoast Rehabilitation Center says that the legalization of recreational marijuana has created a society in which drug use is viewed nonchalantly by young adults—a trend largely to blame for the expected increase in marijuana’s use among teens.
According to recently published data from the Monitoring the Future survey, which is a nationally representative survey of students in grades 8, 10 and 12, a reported 10 percent of high school students who would otherwise be at low risk for habitual pot smoking say that they would use marijuana if it were legal. “Low risk” was defined by the researchers as kids who don’t smoke cigarettes, have strong religious beliefs, and have non-marijuana-smoking friends. The study also found that:
●Among high school seniors, there would be a 5.6 percent increase in lifetime pot use prevalence. Since 45.6 percent of seniors admitted to smoking marijuana in the study, this suggests that legalization would increase the number to 51.2 percent (1).
The increasing emphasis being placed on marijuana use—both medical and recreational—is unwittingly guiding teens to believe that marijuana isn’t damaging to their long-term health, per Tammy Strickling, Suncoast Executive Director. But recent studies have found a definitive link between marijuana use and mental capabilities—youth with poor academic results were more than four times more likely to have used marijuana in the past year than youth averaging higher grades. In addition, marijuana use is also associated with lower grades and a decreased chance of graduating from school (2).
“Young adults are heavily influenced by what they see in their surroundings. The more we reduce perception of harm and increase acceptability by legalizing marijuana, the higher the likelihood of increased use among teenagers who believe that marijuana use poses no health threat,” said Strickling. “Some of the most highly-abused and addictive substances—alcohol, tobacco and prescription pills—are all legal and regulated.”
Marijuana legalization has led some experts to voice concerns about its potential unforeseen consequences. Dr. Stephen Ross, Director of Addiction Psychiatry at NYU Tisch Hospital in New York, commented that he was worried because trends until a few years ago had been showing a decline in teen marijuana use; but as more states began legalizing pot, fewer people believed that there are risks in using, and marijuana use has increased over the last few years (3)—particularly among teens, for whom frequent marijuana use has increased by 80 percent (4).
Strickling maintains that the key to reducing the likelihood of teen drug use is by limiting, rather than increasing, access to drugs such as marijuana. Furthermore, public education on behalf of parents and teens about the potential dangers of drug abuse is critical. Stickling suggests that parents speak openly with their children about the dangers of drug abuse, and set clear standards for what is expected of their children’s behavior with regard to drugs and alcohol.
Suncoast enables its clients to take the first step in conquering addiction and reclaiming their lives from drugs. Suncoast’s medical team designs treatment programs to physically address the malnutrition created by substance abuse, and the Suncoast counseling team tailors client therapy to help provide insight into the past—all intended to help addicts confront life better, and without reverting to drugs.
To learn more about the Suncoast Rehabilitation Center and its rehabilitation programs, call 1-800-511-9403 or visit http://www.suncoastrehabcenter.com.
About Suncoast Rehab Center:
Located in Spring Hill, Florida, Suncoast Rehab Center provides long-term residential treatment, intensive sauna detoxification, life skills and cognitive therapy and counseling. Suncoast is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and was recently awarded a 100% inspection score for the fourth year in a row. Suncoast has a mission to educate youth and adults about drugs and their dangers, with the aim of preventing future drug use and abuse. Suncoast handles the physical deficiencies, weakness and problems created through drug use, without the use of additional drugs. Clients are helped to uncover the issues that led to their drug use through counseling, therapy and life skills that put the clients back in control of their lives and their future. Suncoast’s purpose in drug rehabilitation is to heal the whole person and give the person tools and education to remain drug–free. For more information, visit http://www.suncoastrehabcenter.com.