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Marijuana Abuse In Teens

Marijuana is becoming legalized in different states in America, but this does not minimize the potential for abuse among the teenage population.

When sold, marijuana is made up of dried portions of the hemp plant, such as stems, leaves, seeds and flowers. The chemical present in marijuana that results in a euphoric feeling, or the feeling of being high, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Marijuana can be smoked or eaten. If a teen smokes the marijuana, whether it is via a dry pipe, water pipe (known as a bong) typically the effects of the drug are felt within ten minutes and will last between two to four hours (in some cases longer). When a person eats marijuana by mixing it with food or liquids, the effects occur around thirty to forty minutes post ingestions, as one’s body must digest the drug through their digestive tract. The effects can last longer and be more intense when eaten.

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

There are many short and long-term effects that a teen may experience as a direct result of marijuana abuse. Some of them can include any combination of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Impotency/sexual problems
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Lowered IQ
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Altered sense of time
  • Panic
  • Social isolation
  • Financial difficulties
  • Impaired body movement
  • Hallucinations
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Risk taking behaviors

Each teenager is different and will respond in a slightly unique way to abusing marijuana. Factors such as one’s personal health history, the presence of any co morbid disorders, the potency of the marijuana, the length of time the teen abused marijuana, any concurrent abuse of additional substances, and any family history of addiction will all play into one’s physiological response and effects in relation to the abuse of marijuana.


The first step that a young person must go through when treating marijuana abuse is to undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of the abused substance. Detoxing from marijuana alone is not unsafe, but if a young person has any co morbid disorders, or has been abusing additional substances, it may be best to obtain professional assistance through the detox process. Teenagers who detox from marijuana abuse have reported mild withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Lowered appetite
  • Agitation
  • Inability to sleep
  • Diarrhea

The active chemical in marijuana, THC, can last in a teen’s system for weeks, depending on the potency of the drug and the method of ingestion. Though the withdrawal symptoms may only last a short period of time, it is important to remember that one’s body made accommodations for the presence of THC while functioning, and a young person must make adjustments and re-learn to function without the presence of marijuana.

Pacific Teen Treatment creates uniquely tailored treatment plans for each of its residents. A fundamental alteration that young people make when abusing marijuana is creating space in their lives for the accommodation of marijuana. When this pastime is removed, teens are left with significant free time on their hands. We believe in the importance of helping a young person learn the tools necessary to set them up for continued success throughout their recovery. While many people believe that marijuana is non-addictive, there are many aspects of engaging in marijuana abuse that mimic the behaviors of highly addictive substances. Additionally, it is imperative to be aware of the fact that the habitual abuse of any foreign substance can lead to addiction.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of 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 an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

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