Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the US, and its use is predominant among young people. The frequency that the adolescents are using marijuana (or cannabis) is particularly perturbing because this is the age that the young people are likely to suffer from deleterious consequences. Although marijuana use is sometimes discredited as an experimental behavior commonly occurring during teenage years, its use is linked to increased risks to progress to other drug use, school dropout, lower education achievement, and unemployment (Lac, et al., 2011). Understanding of health risks associated with marijuana use among teenagers is essential, as it can assist families and therapists to come up with program for prevention and intervention.
Marijuana use among adolescent has become extremely troublesome. Although scientists and researchers have asserted that the marijuana plant possesses a number of chemicals that could treat various illnesses, other studies have also proved that marijuana use is dangerous to individuals’ health. According to Volkow, Baler, Compton, and Weiss (2014), long-term marijuana use results in addiction while other risks, such as irritability, dysphoria, anxiety, craving, and insomnia, develop when an individual becomes a frequent user of the substance. Individuals who begin to use marijuana at early age have a higher chance of becoming addicts than those who start late in life.
Teenagers are principally vulnerable to health risks associated with marijuana use because this is the stage that their brain is developing. Experimentation with drugs usually occurs during adolescent period when tolerance is relatively lower and risks of dependence are quite high. According to the gateway theory, the prior use of marijuana creates way to advance to other substance abuse. The model asserts that a common millstone of using both illicit and licit substances places individuals at a risk of exploiting both illegal and legal drugs, such as marijuana and tobacco (Becker, Schaub, Gmel & Haug, 2015). Thus, teenagers who are exposed to marijuana use can proceed to use hard substances such as cocaine and heroin, if they are do not undergo therapy.
Family dynamics, as well as traditional gender roles, play a significant role in understanding health risks of marijuana use. For instance, Latinos adolescents encounter numerous challenges that may drive them to drug use. According to Lac, et al. (2011), Latino teenagers encounter ethnic discrimination, cultural-related stress, socioeconomic stress, as well as limited education opportunities. In gender roles, Latino teenage boys may end up experimenting with drugs due to too much freedom and honor awarded by their community. Poor communication between them and parent has been blamed for their involvement in marijuana use.
Family interventions are fundamental in preventing marijuana use among teenagers. In Latino families, what parents needs and what adolescents needs are almost similar (Lac, et al., 2011). They all need to be loved, recognized, and treasured, even though they enjoy generational differences in terms of values and experiences. Latino boys demonstrated high levels of marijuana use because they lacked parent-child communication. Open communication concerning substance use can assist in preventing young boys from engaging in drug use. Many young girls do not engage in marijuana use because they are regularly connected to their families, thus, having limited opportunities to engage in drug use.
Understanding the health risks linked with marijuana use can assist in intervention and prevention of its use, as well as advancing to other substances. Marijuana use among teenagers is on the rise due to family dynamics and gender roles. Young boys are more likely to engage in marijuana use compared to girls due to the poor connection with their parents during adolescent period. In addition, exposure to marijuana use can compel teenagers to progress to other hard drugs. Open and proper communication can assist in understanding the needs of each individual in society and, consequently, prevent marijuana use.
Becker, J., Schaub, M. P., Gmel, G., & Haug, S. (2015). Cannabis use and other predictors of the onset of daily cigarette use in young men: what matters most? Results from a longitudinal study. BMC Public
Lac, A., Unger, J. B., Basáñez, T., Ritt-Olson, A., Soto, D. W., & Baezconde-Garbanati, L. (2011). Marijuana use among Latino adolescents: Gender differences in protective familial factors. S
Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use.