Drug Use Among Young Users
The sad fact is that drug use and the associated health consequences are highest among young people. Most research suggests that early drug use among those aged 12 to 14 and those in late adolescence, ages 15 to 17 are critical for the initiation of substance use. Substance abuse tends to peak among young people aged 18 to 25 years of age. This article will focus on cannabis use among this age group, those 12 to 25 years old as this time is critical in preventing addictions and getting help for those who are already addicted. However, it should be stated that a person of any age can overcome addiction with help, but the younger help is received the better likelihood of a lifetime without further substance abuse.
In the Oceania area, cannabis is a common drug of choice for young people. This is likely due to the ease of access for this age group and others. Cannabis is also thought to be a low risk drug, though when it is used in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol there can be severe issues. There are two main reasons young people tend to use drugs and they are both in extremes. On one hand, younger uses use drugs like cannabis to enhance excitement and have fun in night club or party settings and on the other, they use drugs to cope with poor or extreme living situations. As for cannabis use it is more for general relaxation than a party drug.
Causes of Use
The path to harmful substance use for young people is complex. There are many factors, but many are totally out of their control. These could include personal factors like:
- Behavioral or mental issues
- Neurological development
- Gene variation from social influences
Anyone suffering from a mental or behavioral issue is more likely to use as they tend to use drugs to alleviate symptoms, although this only hiding the issues. As for young people, neurological immaturity and changes can lead to drug use. Unfortunately, drugs can also alter or hinder neurological development and create lifelong issues.
Other causes for use may include:
- Parental and familial functioning
- School and peer influence
These areas are beyond the control of the young person as parents and families cannot be chosen, yet must be dealt with. Those who are abused or neglected may turn to drugs as a way of coping. School and peers are a huge influence on drug use as these are the people and the place most young adults spend the majority of their time. If students are hanging around others who use drugs, they are at a much greater risk. Finally, the environment in which a young person spends the most time can be highly influential.
If parents or other family members use drugs then a teen or young adult is at higher risk, just as with peers. A family member using in the presence of a young adult makes it appear safe and appropriate to use. The same is true for the community at large. If an area is drug ridden and drugs of any type are easily accessible, then a young adult is much more tempted to use. This also applies to lower class, poverty ridden, low opportunity areas.
Signs of Cannabis Use
Though many believe that cannabis is not addictive, it can be. While it has a lowered rate of addiction, when used in conjunction with other drugs cannabis can create problems. Cannabis, also called marijuana or weed, can be consumed as a shredded, dry leaf product, oil, or resin. Hash typically comes in flat cakes with an amber or brown color, though it may also be sold in small glass bottles. Marijuana can be eaten when mixed in food as an oil or budder, smoked, or vaped. The signs of use include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Rapid heart beat
- Lack of coordination
- Increased snack or food cravings
- Lost or misjudged time periods
- Loss of interest in activities or studies
These signs may come and go as the drug leaves a person’s system. If you are still uncertain whether cannabis use is the problem, look for paraphernalia like:
- Shredded leafy debris
- Rolling papers
- Small bottles of brown oil
- Small metal clips (also called roach clips)
- Water pipes or bongs
- Edibles (in places where marijuana use is legal
Typical symptoms of weed use can last between three and six hours depending on how much was used, at what concentration, and in what fashion it was taken. Some people may experience panic and paranoia with intense strains or those that have been laced with another drug.
Why is Getting Help Important?
Though cannabis use may be mild in comparison to harder drugs, it can still be dangerous. Some people will willingly lace joints with other substances that can cause issues with users. Another concern is that marijuana can lower inhibitions which can lead to dangerous behaviors, including further drug use. Marijuana overdose is not of high concern as most people would fall asleep long before ingesting enough cannabis to create an overdose. However, if the marijuana is laced with another drug or substance, overdose is much more probable.
Getting Help at DARA
If you are using cannabis in any form or have developed a dependence or addiction, then seek professional help. DARA offers affordable in-patient treatment in several locations, including four in Australia (Melbourne, Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane). Each DARA facility offers a resort style setting with personal trainers, top chefs, and highly trained counseling staff. DARA works to heal the whole person, mind, body, and spirit, through physical activities, group counseling, individual counseling, and addiction education. Each component is important in getting you or your loved one on the road to recovery and a better quality of life. No drug, not even mild cannabis use should be considered safe long term. Whether your addiction lies with pills, pot, inhalants, stimulants, or any of the other abused drugs, get the help you need and deserve at DARA.
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