Marijuana is a drug that is most commonly in a dry, shredded form that is green or brown or a type of clustered fluffy leaf of the same colors. It comes from the help plant called Cannabis Sativa. Another form of marijuana is called Hash. Hash is a sticky, black liquid form of the substance. THC (tetrahydroxannabinol) is the active ingredient in marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Since 2007, the use of marijuana has gone up with more teens using marijuana than cigarettes.

Marijuana has one primary means of use; smoking it. The substance is rolled in joints, which are hand made cigarettes. The substance is also smoked in a variety of pipes and/or bongs.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic.  This means that the drug has a high potential for abuse and no medical use. This may come as a surprise as the drug has been approved in some states to use medically and in others to be used recreationally. In January of 2013 the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. upheld the DEA’s scheduling of the drug. This decision comes despite the growing popularity to legalize use of the drug. Defined as a mind-altering “psychoactive” drug, the DEA stands behind their methods of assigning it Schedule 1 classification.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the active ingredient in marijuana, THC affects memory, concentration and coordination among other things.  It is believed to cause cognitive impairment over prolonged use.  Further, research  from the United States Department of Justice has shown that use of marijuana during teen years has a negative effect on IQ.

Dangers of Marijuana Use

No matter the age of the child, parents should not overlook the potential seriousness of their teen “smoking pot”.  Adults should also be aware of the risks of using this drug and the side effects caused by marijuana abuse. Every year, drug rehabilitation centers are seeing an increased number of young adults admitted for marijuana addiction as well as those starting out by abusing marijuana and then gateway-ing into drugs like prescription painkillers or illicit substances.

Here are some signs that of marijuana use:

  • Blood shot eyes
  • A strong musty smoky smell
  • An increase in appetite (the munchies)
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness

Some changes of behavior of a marijuana user include:

  1. Marijuana users often become indifferent to goals or generally unmotivated. This includes, but would not be limited to no longer participating in group activities such as band, athletics, etc. They may also see a drop in their grades, may no longer taking part in family activities or just acting lethargic and withdrawn from friends or family.  In general they may seem to be a bit apathetic about life.
  2. There may be a change in behavior/personality evidenced by a different attitude, or demeanor as you would normally consider being the way your child behaves.  A change in the types of clothing, jewelry, room décor or even music, and also a change in the people, or type of people that they consider their friends.
  3. The sudden use of Visine, mouthwash, air-fresheners that would cover symptoms of the drug use (including the burning of incense).

How to Handle a Marijuana Addict

If you suspect that your family member or loved one is using marijuana, don’t wait to get them help or pass it off as “growing pains.” If you think there is a problem, then most likely there is and you should consult a professional for an evaluation.

A trained rehabilitation professional will evaluate your situation for severity based on a number of factors which include:

  1. Current mental and medical status (has their health suffered in some way due to the abuse?)
  2. Psychological status (are they frequently suffering from depression, or agitation as a result of use cessation?  Things like mood Swings, unable to control anger, etc.?)
  3. Current employment status, or for youth the status of their educational progress (are they able to maintain a job or go to school and make acceptable grades?)
  4. Legal status (are they in legal trouble as a result of the abuse?)
  5. Their family status (Have they been kicked out?  Are they being enabled?)
  6. Social Status (do they have friends, or has their drug use driven away friends?)
  7. The drug use itself (how often/how much?)
  8. Alcohol use or other drug use in addition to marijuana (how often/how much?)

A good assessment will be very in-depth noting behaviors in the last 30 days as well as long term and may take as much as 2 hours to complete.  But it is important for you to know exactly where the user stands so it is worth it to have it done. In short, the marijuana use of the 60’s and 70’s is a thing of the past.  Today it is a new ball game out there as studies come in on the effects of all that “pot smoking.”  Arm yourself with knowledge and do not minimize the risk to users about this very dangerous drug.