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There are many problems in the society today, in America and the rest of the world, which needs to be addressed seriously with solutions that are effective and efficient. One of the major problems in the society today is teenage drug abuse. In 2008, it was reported that nearly 10 percent of teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen used illegal drugs (SAMHSA 2008, cited in Troubled Teens - The teen drug problem, n.d.). Comparison of the statistics presented in 2002, there is a significant drop of 8.3 percent in the teenage drug usage of overall consumption of all illicit drugs (SAMHSA 2002, cited in Troubled Teens - The teen drug problem, n.d.). There are many illegal drugs that teenage use and abuse - nicotine/tobacco, cigarettes, inhalants, Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Cocaine, Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana and many more (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2005). One of the most abused drugs is Marijuana. It was reported that 75 percent of all teen drug users use and abuse Marijuana (SAMHSA 2002, cited in Troubled Teens - The teen drug problem, n.d.). In this paper, the problem of teenage drug use and abuse of Marijuana will be discussed and proposed solutions to the problem will be presented.
Marijuana is the most abused illegal drug in the US. It is a sum of dry leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers from the plant Cannabis sativa. The main component of Marijuana that makes it irresistible to people, not only for teens, is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2009). THC is known for its psychoactive effect such as mind-alteration (Marijuana, 2010). The study of Marijuana's short-term and long-term effects is very important in the understanding and strengthening of this proposal's solutions addressed to the teen abuse of Marijuana. There are many short-term effects and long-term effects of Marijuana use. Some of the short-term effects are:
1.THC which is abundantly present in Marijuana impacts the brain functioning. Specifically, THC finds the brain cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors and binds to them. Certain parts of the brain have significantly contained high density of cannabinoid receptors (Marijuana, 2010).. These parts are the ones responsible in pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement (Herkenham 1998, cited in Marijuana, 2010). Thus, "marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off" (Pope 2001, cited in Marijuana, 2010).
2.Marijuana use can make driving dangerous. It is known that THC affects the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination. This means that Marijuana use can cause disasters on the road. Furthermore, research shows that drivers who use Marijuana "have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and problems responding to signals and sounds"(Marijuana, 2010). Also, studies conducted in a number of localities have found that approximately 4 to 14 percent of drivers who sustained injury or death in traffic accidents tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Marijuana, 2010).
3.Marijuana use increases heart rate of a user. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalation of Marijuana smoke instantaneously increases heart beat more rapidly. Furthermore, blood vessels are caused to expand; thus, eyes look swelling and red. Heart beat increase may reach for up to 20 to 50 beats per minute or, in some cases, even double (Marijuana, 2010).
There are also long-term effects of Marijuana use and abuse. These include:
1.Marijuana use causes mental health problems. Studies showed that early use may increase the risk of developing psychosis, which is a severe mental disorder in which there is a loss of contact with reality, including false ideas about what is happening (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations) (Marijuana, 2010). Furthermore, many other studies suggested that there is a significant relationship between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2009).
2.It causes major lung problems due to the numerous carcinogens present in Marijuana smoke. Marijuana smokers show deregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which is reportedly known to cause lung cancers. Other effects are daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2009).
3.It causes drug addiction and dependency. In 2007, the majority of youth (age 17 or younger) entering drug abuse treatment reported marijuana as their primary drug abused. Furthermore, it increases dopamine, which creates the good feelings or "high" associated with its use. Thus, use of Marijuana may come back over and over again to experience "high" feelings again and again (Marijuana, 2010).
Statistics of teen drug use and abuse will be presented to strengthen the claims and acknowledgements of the problem. Generally, Marijuana abuse statistics in 2007 showed that 14.4 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed, which is similar to the 2006 rate. Furthermore, about 6,000 people a day in 2007 used marijuana for the first time-2.1 million Americans. Of these, 62.2 percent were under age 18 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), cited in NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2009). Talking about teen drug abuse, according to a statistics in 2003, teen drug abuse in different grade levels reached an alarming point. It was reported that 30.3 percent of teenage drug users are from the 8th grade, 44.9 percent of teen drug users are in 10th grade, while 52.8 percent of teen drug users are in the 12th grade (Troubling Teen Drug Use Statistics, n.d.). Furthermore, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey indicates that marijuana use among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders-which has shown a consistent decline since the mid-1990s-appears to have leveled off, with 10.9 percent of 8th-graders, 23.9 percent of 10th-graders, and 32.4 percent of 12th-graders reporting past-year use (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2009).
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Other statistics and facts about teen Marijuana are presented in the following discussions. It was reported that approximately 60 percent of the kids who use drugs use only marijuana. Of the 14.6 million marijuana users in 2002, approximately 4.8 million used it on 20 or more days in any given month (Kids and Marijuana, 2003). Furthermore, marijuana that is available to teens today is much stronger than the marijuana that was available in the 1960's. Also, it can be used with other potent drugs that make it more addictive. According to past researches, between 1991 and 2001, the percentage of eighth graders who used marijuana doubled from one in ten to one in five. It was seen that kids today are using marijuana at an earlier age. Furthermore, research indicates that the earlier teens start using marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent on this or other drugs later in life. Of teens admitted for treatment for marijuana dependence, 56 percent had first used the drug by 14 years old, and 26 percent had begun by 12 years old (Kids and Marijuana, 2003). These are very alarming statistics that defines the problem. Therefore, analysis of the causes of this Marijuana abuse in teens is also a very important aspect in determination of effective and efficient solutions for the problem.
There are many possible causes of teen drug abuse of Marijuana. These causes may contribute to the long-term addictions and habits of these teens as they grow to be irresponsible individuals. Some of these factors that affect the risk of drug use and addiction in teens are the following:
1.The lack of supervision from parents and guardians is proved to be one of the primary causes of drug abuse in American society today. Children and teenagers that are allowed to roam freely and independently experiment on things may increase the opportunities to be exposed to drugs. (Thompson, 2010)
2.The availability of the drugs is widespread and easy to reach. Thus, children and teenagers may acquire them without a hassle. Once, exposed to these drugs, they may be faced with different effects of the drugs. Addiction is one of the main problems when the availability is widespread. (Thompson, 2010)
3.The lack of communication and information dissemination about the drugs and its potential harms and effects is one of the main causes of drug use and abuse. Some teens may abuse drugs simply because they think their parents do not care about it. Also, without having knowledge about the effects and harms of drug use, children and teens may tend to enjoy it as much as they can. (Thompson, 2010)
4.Another disturbing cause of drug use is the tolerance of it in schools. It is widely known that one of the causes of teenage drug abuse is finding drugs, alcohol and cigarettes available at school. (Thompson, 2010)
5.Lastly, stereotyping is also one of the major causes of drug abuse in teens. Many teens think that drugs are "cool" not knowing the possible effects that it may cause them. This also in accordance with poor supervision and information dissemination of parents to their children. (Thompson, 2010)
These causes reflect the possible ways to provide an effective and efficient solution to the problem. Analyzing the given causes above, the root of all causes is the lack of and insufficient proper guidance, supervisions, and information dissemination of parents to their children in their growing years. This is the one to be addressed seriously. Many think that parental guidance is not important in the child's growing years; however, they are ultimately wrong. It is in the home where children form their starting fundamental mentalities, views and opinions about things in the world. Also, the schools have also an important part to play in the success of the fights against teenage Marijuana abuse. It is in the schools were children widening their horizons and knowledge towards things about the world takes place. If negative things such as drug use is promoted and tolerated in schools, this is a very big problem. Thus, proper guidance, supervisions, and information disseminations are effective and efficient solutions that can help strengthen the fight against teenage drug abuse.
The proposed solutions are:
1.Advise parents to get involved in their teens lives. They should communicate with their children most of the time and that guidance and supervision is given earnestly. Advise parents to get to know more about their children and bond with them with as much time as possible. Constantly, check for their whereabouts and activities in school. Allow them to join life-enriching activities that consume their time with positive activities and motives, thus lessening the opportunities for exposure to drug use. (Thompson, 2010)
2.Schools must present effective information dissemination subjects that tackle negative effects and harms of drug use in a person's life, mind and body. They should not tolerate drug use activities. This should be done by constant checking and reminders given to the students. Also, fun activities should be encouraged to strengthen the minds of these children lessening the opportunities for exposure to drug use. Every school should provide a zero tolerance policy regarding drug use and abuse. (Thompson, 2010)
3.Proper information dissemination towards teenagers and children regarding stereotypes of drug use should be executed. The stereotypes should be broken, and proper education will help the society do that. (Thompson, 2010)
4.Lastly, government should also participate in the fight against teenage drug use and abuse. They should reinforce their laws and programs with the fact that is based on lessening the opportunities for teens to acquire illegal drugs. This can be done by promoting laws that makes the price of drugs higher and unreachable by teens and children so that availability will go down significantly. Laws should be implemented for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of the economy.
Finally, it is presented that Marijuana use is one of the most crucial problem in drug abuse of teenagers and children. The many harmful effects of Marijuana usage is presented to strengthen the fact that Marijuana usage in the US is a very alarming problem that needs to be addressed seriously. Also, the possible causes of drug abuse were presented to further the understanding of the problem and how it should be addressed. Therefore, the following solutions to the problem must be taken into considerations seriously and urgently to help the society's fight against teenage drug use and abuse. Proper guidance and supervision from parents is ultimately encouraged; proper information dissemination and other fun and fulfilling activities in schools is promoted to strengthen children's minds towards that true meaning of Marijuana use and abuse. Lastly, the government policies towards the availability of drugs must be explicitly taken into action to help children, teenagers, as well as their parents in fighting against the temptation of using drugs such as Marijuana.