Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among teenagers. If your teen starts using cannabis before the age of 12, he or she is two times as likely to develop a mental illness. This, according to reports, is only one alarming statistic about the connection between marijuana and depression.
Marijuana is addictive and can lead to serious mental health issues. This same report shared that 17 percent of treatment facility admissions were due to cannabis use.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed in a study that in 2018, over 6 percent of teens aged between twelve and seventeen had used cannabis in the past month. Some reports show that number rising. The number of mental health issues among teens is also on the rise.
The connection between the two is real.
What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a collection of dried leaves, stems and other parts of the hemp plant. Not all hemp products are considered cannabis, however.
Cannabis is mind-altering due to one of the extracts from the plant, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This extract is just one of the 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids.
It is abused by many teens who are only interested in experiencing the high that comes with ingesting cannabis. This high, however, is only temporary, and creates a desire within some teens to use more and more until they eventually become addicted.
Yes, Cannabis Is Addictive
The Centers for Disease Control assert that one in six teens who begin using cannabis before the age of 18, will become addicted.
Teens often lack the fear of addiction. They feel they can quit using the drug whenever they want. But when they try to stop using it, they encounter negative withdrawal symptoms.
Teens addicted to marijuana can have mood changes, which can alter the natural chemicals in their brain and gut, to become dependent on the drug for their emotions.
A depressed mood is just one of the many withdrawal symptoms among teens when trying to stop using. To avoid feeling so depressed, some continue to use marijuana. They don’t realize the negative effects cannabis has on their brain.
Teen Cannabis Use and the Brain
The brain has natural chemical receptors that pass messages from one another. There are many receptors throughout the brain. These receptors tell your body what to do, like speaking, hearing, running and even feeling.
The teen brain is still in development. It doesn’t reach full growth until young adulthood. This means smoking marijuana as a teen can permanently alter their brain’s growth and development.
When a teen smokes cannabis, it overwhelms their natural chemical receptors. It stops them from doing their job. For instance, the amygdala in the brain is responsible for regulating emotions. Meaning, it keeps you from getting too depressed, it helps keep anxiety at bay when there is no reason to be anxious.
When marijuana enters the brain, it attaches to the amygdala and disrupts your emotions. You may feel panic and paranoia when there is no threat. You may feel overwhelming sadness even though everything in your life is going well.
Depression and Cannabis
Many will argue that smoking marijuana makes them feel happy, euphoric, and gives them a lightened mood. This is true, but very temporary.
In the long-term, marijuana use can lead to depression in teens.
A large study, with over 20,000 participants, recently found a direct link between marijuana and depression. Through this study, they were able to attribute 400,000 cases of depression caused by marijuana use among teens in the United States.
This connection is likely because marijuana gives teens an exaggerated feeling of happiness when used. But when they are not using, their natural chemical brain receptors are not able to match the effects the cannabis produced.
Because of this, depression can appear. Depression was not the only disorder associated with cannabis use among teens.
Cannabis and Other Disorders
Marijuana has been linked to other physical and mental disorders. It causes major skin problems for teenagers, including acne and rashes, and usually in places there are not easily hidden, like the face.
It can lead to a constant cough due to the phlegm it produces, as well as making teens more susceptible to bronchitis. It has been shown to hinder the immune system and slows reaction time in dangerous situations.
Other issues caused by marijuana use include impaired memory and judgment and increased heart rate. It has also been linked to lowered motivation, lowered IQ, poor school and work performance, relationship problems, and anti-social behaviors like stealing and lying.
Psychosis can occur if the cannabis they are using has been laced with other drugs. Formaldehyde, or embalming fluid, is often used to create a “wet blunt”. This gives the user more hallucinogenic effects. It can also give them serious lung damage and irreversible brain damage.
Get Help for Your Teen
If you suspect your teen is using cannabis, even if just on occasion, it is time to reach out for help. Seek assistance from licensed therapists at treatment facilities specializing in drug and alcohol addiction among teens.
The right treatment center will focus on more than just a teen’s addiction. They will help your teen recover physically and mentally so they can enjoy the long, happy and healthy life they deserve.
Treatment facilities, like Paradigm, are a good example of treating the whole teen. This means individualized programs to include family counseling, spiritual connections, physical and emotional healing, and teaching them how to have fun again, without marijuana.
The best treatment centers have staff with specialized skills from life coaching to psychiatry on staff to meet all needs of your teen and family.
Choosing the treatment center whose only focus is teens, offering you confidence and security in their rehabilitation.
Paradigm Austin is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.