Adolescence is a formative time in a young person’s life. It is filled with countless lessons, physiological maturation, insatiable curiosity, and a newfound need for autonomy. The human brain does not fully develop until age twenty-five, at the earliest. With an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain that reigns rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, etc.) teenagers rely heavily on the amygdala (area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation) when reacting to certain stimuli. Every young person is unique, and each will encounter distinctly challenging situations during adolescence, test a different combination of boundaries, and experiment with different stimuli, which for some may mean trying drugs. On average, when it comes to marijuana, for example, young people tend to start between the ages of 12 and 16.
Marijuana, colloquially known as weed or pot, is the dried leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis plant. It contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active chemical that produces its psychological effects. THC mirrors the natural chemical produced in one’s brain known as anandamide. The primary function of this chemical is to send messages between the nerve cells throughout one’s body. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified marijuana as a Schedule I Substance, which are defined as “drugs, substances, or chemicals… with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” There are several methods of ingestion such as smoked via hand rolled cigarettes, also known as joints, packed into pipes, and/ or smoked out of water pipes (bongs), inhaled, or vaped via a vaporizer (using marijuana extract), baked into food (edibles), or steeped into a tea to drink. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that marijuana is the most used federally illegal drug in the United States, with reports noting that 48.2 million people, or about 18% of Americans, used it at least once in 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 147 million people, 2.5% of the world population, consume cannabis, annually. Pot is widely and easily accessible for young people, as NIDA-funded research at the University of Michigan found that 8th graders reported marijuana (at 28%) to be the second easiest substance to acquire. Research led by Oregon Health & Science University reveals adolescent cannabis use has increased 245% over 20 years.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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