The controversy between the benefits and risks of using marijuana has become more divisive in recent years. With recreational use of this drug now legal in four states so far, and medical use in at least twenty-three, there has been an increasing number of studies on the long term effects of this drug. Emerging research that shows marijuana use may play a role in psychosis has amplified concerns for the increasing number of users, especially among teenagers. It has also created an urgency to warn the public of the potential risk, especially for drug users with a predisposition to mental illness. Much of this information will be made available to the public during Marijuana Awareness Month in February 2016. During this month, advocates hope that more people, especially those who are chronic users of the drug, will explore the educational opportunities available to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about this widely used and frequently abused substance. Researchers that have been studying the link between marijuana users and mental illness in a recent report indicated that psychosis typically develop fairly early in cannabis users. Study outcomes also confirm those with a history or a genetic predisposition to mental illness are more likely to exhibit symptoms of neurosis. This finding is especially prudent for young users with an inherent mental problem that have not yet been diagnosed.
In addition to a strong correlation between marijuana use and other adverse effects, such as lowered IQ, reduced educational attainment, and impaired memory functions, mental disorders are more heightened, especially in regular users. These study outcomes, published in the Academic Journal Addiction by the National Addiction Center, London are based on a compilation of studies that have occurred over a twenty-year period. According to Wayne Hall, Director at the Center for Youth Substance Abuse Research and author of the study, the risk of developing psychosis doubles from 7 in 1,000 people to 14 in 1,000 people. Hall also stated that individuals who are already experiencing symptoms of psychosis, will possibly have their first psychotic episode at an earlier age.
On the other hand, advocates working for reformation of marijuana laws have dismissed these claims as an obsession with the idea that cannabis causes schizophrenia, despite the fact that there is insufficient data to support it. They have also claimed the Schedule I classification of the drug in the U.S. falsely presents the it as having no proven medical benefit, limits funding, and hinders clinical research. This designation also mandates the heaviest penalties for possession and use of the drug in states that have not yet decriminalized it. As such, both advocates for or against the legalization will be planning programs and disseminating information during Marijuana Awareness Month that can help consumers make a more informed decision relevant to the benefits and possible dangers of using this drug.
Also, to help parents have a better understanding of the effects of cannabis use on their developing children, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers two short booklets containing scientific facts about titled:
Further, the NIDA indicates that approximately 46% of teens in the United States will have used the drug at some point during adolescence, making it the most abused illegal substance in the nation today. Despite several warnings about the potential adverse effects on the developing mind, there has been a 23% spike in cannabis use by high school seniors and 6.5% increase in daily use since 2013, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey. A shift in attitude about the safety and efficacy of this drug has been attributed to the resurgence. Throughout Marijuana Awareness Month, concerned consumers can learn about marijuana relevant to:
There is still a lot to learn about the effects of long term use of this drug and how it affects younger users. If you or someone you love has a drug dependence or addiction problem, seek help now. Treatment specialists are available to help you find the right drug treatment program.
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