Keeping an eye on substance abuse among youth is a good way to gauge the future of the issue. Drugs and alcohol have infected American high schools, and it would appear that educational efforts have been insufficient to keep us from rising.
Unfortunately, a recent survey says teen pot use is on the rise. While this is a concern to many in the enforcement, prevention, and treatment fields there is a more important question at hand: What does this mean for the future of our youth?
Research Reveals Shocking Marijuana Prevalence Among Youth
National analysis of eighth, tenth, and twelfth-grade students in the United States has revealed that marijuana not only continues to be the most popular drug, but also the most misunderstood. Revelations of high usage also appear to be in conjunction with a change in perception of the potential harms of marijuana. In other words, a large part of the problem of marijuana prevalence in American school-aged kids today is the fact that it is perceived as safe, natural, and non-addictive.
According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, teen pot use is on the rise. Further, a shocking 6.5 percent of high school seniors admit to smoking up daily. This number shows an increase since the last time it was recorded five years ago.
Marijuana has, for decades, been classified as the “harmless” street drug when, in fact, the drug contains over 400 toxic chemicals — including tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient that makes users feel high.
Sadly, over 36 percent of participating high school teens said they had smoked marijuana within the past year. Approximately 46,000 students were surveyed and their information was analyzed by researchers at the University of Michigan.
Social Acceptance of Marijuana Fueling the Problem
The wide misconception of marijuana as the “green” and healthy drug is what fuels its popularity and makes it socially acceptable. While it may be true that one hit of marijuana won’t kill you, pot smokers rarely use it one time.
There are so many elements of our lifestyles today that glorify marijuana use (movies, music, radio, social media, etc.) that social acceptance of the drug is more prominent than ever. Walkthrough almost any high school (private or public) and you would find that nearly every student knows:
- Who does drugs
- Where to get them
- Where to consume them on/near school grounds
American adults are just as bad, if not worse, in the arena of marijuana use. About 45 percent of Americans who abuse cannabis 100 or more times each year are between the ages of 18-25. The other 55 percent of marijuana users in the United States are between the ages of 26 and 50.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana
One of the main anti-marijuana arguments today is purity and potency — cannabis is simply more concentrated and potent than it has been before. For this reason, these long-term effects of marijuana have not changed over time, but have manifested after even just a couple of uses:
- Memory loss/impairment
- The trouble with learning and/or retaining information
- Loss of motor skills
- Changes in weight
- Gastrointestinal conditions
Despite all of these facts listed above, a mere 20 percent of high school seniors consider marijuana to be harmful.