Teenagers Get False Messages to increase the use of Drugs
In the past year's studies of drug use among teenagers, new trends are showing up. Marijuana use has been rising for the past four years according to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. This is a study of more than 47,000 students in eighth, tenth and twelfth grades conducted nationally since 1975. This year's findings show that the rise in marijuana use is accompanied by more young people thinking that using marijuana is not risky.
Our society is sending mixed messages to youth about the safety and acceptance of marijuana. At this time, seventeen states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. In November 2012, voters in two states approved laws to make recreational use of marijuana legal for adults. These factors may make young people believe that marijuana is harmless. If prescribed for medical conditions and it is acceptable for recreational use among adults, students may believe it to be harmless. That is far from the truth, but the mixed messages do not set clear guidelines for youth.
But in fact, marijuana abuse results in poor ability to do complex tasks, inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss, and an increase in risk of developing psychosis. There is also evidence that marijuana is addictive. About nine percent of those who use it become dependent on marijuana. In addition, long-term studies of high school students show that more young people who use other illegal drugs try marijuana first. Because their use of marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs, it follows that a person who uses marijuana is more likely to be exposed to and urged to try other drugs.
Other drugs abused by teenagers include Ecstasy and synthetic marijuana. After several years of a decline in the perceived risk and disapproval of Ecstasy, the MTF study found that Ecstasy use appears to be increasing, primarily among older teens. Synthetic marijuana, called "Spice" or "K2" or other names, was legal until the Drug Enforcement Administration placed it under an emergency ban so that states had time to catch up with proper legislation. These drugs contain herbal mixtures, which are coated or sprayed with some unknown amount of a marijuana-like chemical. Spice supposedly mimics the action of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but the drugs are unpredictable and have been linked to many bizarre and violent reactions.
The Foundation for a Drug Free-World focuses its efforts on educating youth. The Foundation operates on the premise that no one, especially a young person, likes to be lectured about what he or she can or cannot do. Thus, all of its initiatives are designed to provide the facts that empower youth to choose not to take drugs in the first place.
The Foundation for a Drug Free World is a non-profit organization actively involved in education programs in schools and in the community. The program is primarily addressed to youth. www.drugfreeworld.org
And for the person with a drug problem, there are real solutions to addiction. Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program that utilizes the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, has a success rate of more than 75% (www.narconon.org). The best solution, however, is to not begin using drugs in the first place.