Decoding Teen Marijuana Use and Depression

Boy teenager experiencing depression from marijuana useCannabis (also known as marijuana) is a hot topic right now due to its legalization in many states for either medical, recreational or both uses. The adolescent period of development brings about a new set of challenges for parents, as their teens are most likely to start experimenting with different substances – including marijuana. The legalization of marijuana makes it not only more accessible for teens to use, but there’s also the common belief that marijuana isn’t harmful because it’s derived from plants. If your teen has been using marijuana for non-medical reasons, scientists are starting to explore the implications marijuana use linking to depression.

Marijuana and Depression: Potential Linkages for Adolescents

According to BBC News in 2019, adolescents who smoke marijuana during this time of development are at a 37% increased risk of developing depression by the time they reach adulthood. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford, with one author stating,

“This is important information for parents and teenagers. The risk is modest, but it can have a devastating impact.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA) explains that when marijuana is inhaled, a person’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages become enlarged, the eyes expand and more – and this truly takes a toll on the body. Medical News Today, a website that publishes various informative articles on health-related topics, estimated in 2017 that 3 million young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have at least one major depressive episode each year; when marijuana is consumed routinely and in excess, adolescents are at a dangerously high risk for damaging their mental health – something that can take months or even years to restore.

Professor Andrea Cipriani, a leader who was involved in the study aforementioned, told The Fix,

“Our findings about depression and suicidality are very relevant for clinical practice and public health. Although the size of the negative effects of cannabis can vary between individual adolescents and it is not possible to predict the exact risk for each teenager, the widespread use of cannabis among the young generations makes it an important health issue.”

For teens who go on to develop depression later on in life, the symptoms can be truly debilitating:

  • Little to no interest in activities that one used to enjoy
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying, mood swings and more

Researchers are still exploring the exact reasons behind these linkages, but depression isn’t the only concern that teens have when abusing marijuana.

Dangerous Effects of Marijuana on Teens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) denotes that teens may experience difficulty with thinking and concentration, which can affect school work, driving, problem-solving, job tasks, home responsibilities and more. Previous research has shown that teens may have trouble with memory and the learning of new skills; studies have shown that THC can affect individuals differently depending on their age, and younger populations – such as adolescents and teens – may find that THC actually harms their CB1 receptors in the brain rather than help them.

Impaired coordination from marijuana use means that more car accidents are likely to occur from teens who are likely still getting used to the idea of driving; in fact, vehicle accidents are considered the leading cause of death among people aged 16 to 19 years old. Marijuana alters teens’ perceptions as well as their attention, balance, coordination, reaction time and more – and without the ability to focus intently, teens are placing their lives in danger.

Why Seeking Help is the Only Option

Marijuana use can quickly become a go-to drug if teens are wanting to socialize with friends or even deal with difficult emotions they’re experiencing. Without proper guidance, some teens may discover that their substance use has harmed them in more ways than one – and that’s why it’s incredibly important for them to seek help early on.

If you have a teen who has been struggling with marijuana abuse, alcoholism or another form of drug abuse, take a stand for their mental, physical and spiritual health and speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. ARCH Academy provides services to teen boys ages 14-18 with resources to help them rediscover themselves in a new light:

  • 12-Step programs
  • Proven clinical therapies
  • Educational services
  • Adventure programming

Substance abuse affects teens differently than it does adults, and that’s why ARCH Academy was created. Teen boys will find that they’re able to complete their education alongside their progression to recovery – and since this is a residential program, adolescents will be well-equipped with everything they need:

  • Nutritious meals
  • Access to counselors and staff
  • Regular communication and updates
  • Recovery activities that foster teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • And more

Teens don’t always realize what can come of their actions, and that’s where we can step in to ensure their safety.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

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