There’s a belief that’s growing in popularity that suggests that marijuana is not dangerous. At least, per the myth, weed isn’t as dangerous as alcohol or nicotine. While I don’t think anything is as bad for a person as alcohol or nicotine, I also think that the idea that pot isn’t dangerous presents an especially big risk for adolescents.
According to various studies, marijuana and alcohol are the two (2) substances that adolescents use most. In my experience, it’s not too hard to spell out the harm of alcohol to teens. But it is getting to be quite the challenge to teach that marijuana is, in fact, quite harmful.
The biggest problem to me is that there is little data about the way marijuana works in the brain. I have written before about the relationship between psychosis and marijuana use, especially in adolescents. However, a recent study named, “Adverse psychosocial outcomes associated with drug use among US high school seniors: a comparison of alcohol and marijuana” indicates that the real harm of marijuana use come from the loss of two (2) relationships: 1) The relationship with self; and, 2) the relationship with parents and teachers.
According to the study, adolescents who use pot tend to lose interest in their key activities. Commonly, this is known as the “amotivaional effect” and has been widely debated for years. However, according to the “Adverse psychosocial outcomes” study, the amotivational effect is real. Study participants reported that they no longer cared about things that they once deemed important. This loss of values can literally wreck a life, as the less a person cares about his life, the less he will do to form it into a life he wants. Time passes without engagement and this lack of engagement is a risk factor for depression and addiction. This lack of self-value can destroy a once promising life.
The study also found that relationship s with parents and teachers is also negatively impacted through marijuana use. To me, this finding is almost intuitive: If a young person loses values in his life, then the idea of parents and teachers attempting to guide him will appear as misguided attempts at controlling him.
To illustrate, a certain case of a sixteen year old boy comes to mind. He was a talented artist who sought ways to improve. However, he smoked pot and the more he smoked, the less he drew and painted. His mother tried to intervene, but he was so out of it most of the time that he just wouldn’t listen to her. When she would try to have him talk with his art teachers, he just wouldn’t show up or even lash out at their attempts to get him to draw. Eventually, he fell into heroin use. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen him, but I do think that his marijuana use did lead to his disconnection with life and anything that made him who he once was.
I’ve included the study here: alcoholVPotUse in Teens I do hope people understand that though marijuana is considered safe, there are adverse consequences of using it.
image courtesy of artzone