|The Addict’s Mom|
|Written by Sherry Schlenke|
Is marijuana harmful?
In elections across the country, voters are deciding if marijuana (pot) should be legalized in their states, a topic which is both controversial, and for many, tragic. The decision becomes even more difficult when the President of the United States, on national television, declares that marijuana is “harmless.”
In order to make an informed decision as voters, parents and users, it is useful to review the facts about marijuana.
People who smoke pot are 2.5 times more likely to abuse prescription opiates.
A tolerance to marijuana often leads to much harder drugs (heroin, crack, opioid pills and methamphetamine).
Most pot smokers are “poly-drug users” who combine harder drugs with pot.
99.9 percent of cocaine users started by using a combination of marijuana and alcohol.
Young people between the ages of 12-17 who use pot are 85 times more likely to use heroin. Marijuana is considered a “gateway” drug, along with opiate pills and alcohol.
60 percent of young people who use pot before the age of 15 will graduate to harder drugs. One in four people who try heroin will become addicted to it. Only as few as 13 percent of those addicted to heroin will recover, which may require over 25 in-patient hospital stays, costing thousands of dollars.
20 percent of high school students report that they have tried pot. The use of pot by teenagers has increased from 7.4 to 10.7 percent in recent years. Drug-related school expulsions have increased by 33 percent in recent years.
An estimated 20,000 people die annually from drug abuse.
Our nation spends $4 billion annually on drug-related causes (hospital visits, emergency rescue, the legal system, incarceration, rehabilitation, etc.).
Chronic pot use leads to diminished attention, loss of memory and general knowledge, vehicular accidents, injuries and absences from work.
Chronic pot users develop a psychological addiction to the drug, in which the pot becomes a central part of their daily lives.
Chronic users develop apathy, carelessness, “burnout” from their daily lives and engage in risky behaviors.
Chronic pot users experience decreased energy and decreased ambition and develop “a-motivational” syndrome. On the young brain, pot has a devastating effect. Even occasional use can cause damage to the areas of the brain that regulate emotion, motivation and decision-making. Pot smokers experience a drop in their intelligence or IQ.
In people who are at risk for mental illness (undiagnosed) there is a correlation between the use of pot and the onset of depression, schizophrenia and teen suicide.
Pot contains THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a psycho-active agent that binds to receptors in the brain, causing a high, a feeling of relaxation, a feeling of euphoria, altered space and time perception, an alteration of visual and auditory senses, disorientation and fatigue.
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