Marijuana Abuse: The Harm of Going Untreated

If you are the parent of a teenage boy who is abusing marijuana, you may suffer a great amount of stress from the idea that marijuana has often been touted as a “gateway” drug. Is it true that a boy who abuses marijuana will, without fail, move on to harder drugs? The answer to that question is not entirely clear, but one study conducted at Yale University and reported in an article in the Connecticut Post, says there is certainly cause for concern. According to their research, men aged 18 to 25 years are more likely to abuse prescription drugs when they have a previous substance abuse problem with marijuana.

The harm of going untreated for the abuse of marijuana is not limited to one’s likelihood to become addicted to other types of drugs, however. For instance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, regular use of marijuana has been associated with:

  • Lower degrees of personal satisfaction with one’s life circumstances
  • Troubling mental and physical health conditions on a more frequent basis than those who do not abuse marijuana
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Stilted academic achievements (more frequent instances of dropping out)
  • Stilted career success (increased tardiness, absenteeism, work-related injuries and changing jobs)

From a physical standpoint, long-term marijuana abuse has been linked to arrested development, particularly when the abuse occurs during adolescence. A study referenced by the director of the NIDA in her monthly message indicates that adolescent drug use can reduce the IQ of users later in life, for example. The abuse of marijuana can lead to infertility or reduced motility in men, as well as heart conditions including hypertension, according to Brown University.

Why Do Teens Abuse Marijuana and Other Drugs?

According to the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are two main reasons why anyone would choose to use mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. The first is obvious – to feel good. They want to experience the feelings these substances bring and share those feelings with others. The second reason can sometimes be lost in the first reason. Many individuals, including teens who abuse drugs, are doing so in order to feel better. They may have feelings of anxiety, stress and even major depression that are alleviated by the use of marijuana and other drugs.

When someone suffers from both substance abuse or addiction and another mental health issue at the same time, they are said to have a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. In some cases, a dual diagnosis condition may develop because of the drug use, while in other cases, the condition may have predated the drug problems. Either way, the presence of such condition is not uncommon when it comes to teenage boys. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Health states that one out of two adolescents who abuse drugs also suffers from a diagnosable and treatable mental illness.

Treating a dual diagnosis condition requires attention to both conditions at the same time in order for the treatment to be effective. If attention is paid to the drug abuse problem, for instance, without addressing the anxiety or depression that also exists, your son will be more likely to relapse for the same reasons he abused drugs in the first place – for relief from the symptoms of his disorder. On the other hand, if the condition developed as a result of drug abuse, he may be more likely to return to drug use to alleviate those new, confusing symptoms he might experience. It matters less which behavior caused the other than it does to receive the highest quality care possible to alleviate the symptoms and maintain a healthy, productive and sober lifestyle.

If you’d like help dealing with your teenage son who is abusing marijuana, call us at Muir Wood today. We are here 24/7 to help.

Return to Commonly Abused Substances…