Regardless of the widespread prevalence of drug addiction programs in North Carolina, it is far from the case that every teen smokes marijuana – indeed, only about 1 in 7 teens do. There has actually been a steep drop in the proportion of teens using marijuana since the 1990s, but with the last few years having seen usage figures creep up again, we should not presume that it has ceased to be a threat to our young people.
More teens seem to be turning once more to marijuana and it may be an indication of the increasing misconception that it is not a harmful drug, perhaps due to it being “natural”. This is despite the fact that not all natural plants are good for one’s health, tobacco being one example. It all means that addiction remains a serious risk to American teens and young adults, with almost 4.2 million people 12 and older having a marijuana abuse or addiction problem as of 2011.
A person may smoke marijuana for many reasons, such as to fit in socially, feel better or even feel different. Whatever the reason for such use, there can be no denying the very real consequences, particularly given marijuana’s addictive nature. Although not everyone who smokes marijuana becomes addicted, about 9 percent, or 1 in 11 people, do – a rate that rises to 17 percent, or around 1 in 6, for those starting in their teens. For daily users, there is a 25-50 percent risk of addiction.
Marijuana has many more potential consequences besides addiction, however. The adverse effect that the drug has on alertness, coordination, concentration and reaction time makes driving unsafe, and sure enough, there is no illegal drug that is more frequently involved in auto fatalities. Marijuana is also linked to academic failure due to the negative impact it has on attention, memory and learning, while psychosis or panic is another possibility when taking high doses of the drug.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the amount of which determines the strength or potency of the drug. The amount of THC content in marijuana has been on the increase since the 1980s. Furthermore, THC is rapidly absorbed by the body’s fatty tissues, with traces often being detectable several days after use.
The many unwelcome short-term and long-term effects of marijuana on the human body – including the brain – only make it all the more crucial for the right drug addiction programs in North Carolina to be offered to teens and young adults to assist them on the road to recovery.