Advertisements may not be able to overtly sell illicit substances to children on TV or in magazines, but a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research says that a number of American young people in their teens and early 20s are receiving pro-marijuana messages on Twitter multiple times a day.
Previous research has linked teen choices in drug and alcohol use to social media sites—what they post, what their friends are posting, and the organizations that they link themselves to. Their ability to follow any organization they choose on Facebook or Twitter means that they are open to a barrage of pro-marijuana messages all day long from a variety of sources.
Patricia Cavazos-Rehg was principal investigator on the study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In a news release from the university, she said, “I’ve been studying what is influencing attitudes to change dramatically and where people may be getting messages about marijuana that are leading them to believe the drug is not hazardous. As people are becoming more accepting of marijuana use and two states have legalized the drug for recreational use, it is important to remember that it remains a dangerous drug of abuse.”
A Single Account
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the study is that it didn’t look at a lot of different pro-marijuana Twitter accounts to gather data. One single pro-marijuana account, the largest one on Twitter, was used for the study. It had about one million followers, and between May 1 and December 31 of 2013, that one account sent out about 2,285 tweets, an average of 11 each day. Of its one million followers, 73 percent were under 19 years old, 54 percent were between 17 and 19 years of age, and about 20 percent were under the age of 16.
About 82 percent of the tweets sent were positive about marijuana use and abuse, 18 percent were neutral, and only 0.3 percent expressed a negative opinion about the drug. Most were attempts at being funny, some talked about different ways to use the drug, and others implied that using marijuana was a good way to relax.
If your son is on Twitter or Facebook, pay attention to whom he is following as well as what he’s posting. As the researchers pointed out, in 2011, almost a half-million emergency room visits were caused by use of marijuana – and about 13 percent of those were for patients between the ages of 12 and 17. Marijuana use among teens is not insignificant nor is it a safe choice that should be overlooked.
If marijuana use is an issue for your son, you can help him to get back on track when you connect him with effective and integrated treatment designed just for teens. Contact us at Muir Wood today and learn more about our unique and specialized rehabilitation program for teen boys now.