Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Teen Marijuana Use Statistics

Marijuana can be a complicated subject. While marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and illegal according to the federal government, some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the use of marijuana for over-the-counter, recreational use for individuals over the age of 21, placing marijuana on par with alcohol in those regions. A Schedule I controlled substance is one that has no accepted medical use, although there is a prescription drug that harnesses certain compounds in marijuana for the treatment of some medical conditions. If you’re confused by the legal standing of marijuana in the United States and the rationale that is in place concerning this drug, you’re not alone.

Teens today have a significant amount of information to process, and it seems as though they would be overloaded in the information dump department. As parents, it may seem overwhelming to cut through the details and truly focus on the bottom line when it comes to marijuana abuse. What are you up against? To see the whole picture, it is important to understand marijuana use as compared to the use of other drugs of abuse among teens. The University of Michigan conducts a research project on an annual basis known as Monitoring the Future. Each year, students around the country ranging from the 8th to the 12th grades are asked a series of anonymous questions about their lifetime exposure to drugs and alcohol, how they feel about drugs, and whether certain drugs are more “acceptable” than others. The results of the survey may surprise you.

For instance, according to the most recent survey for the 2011 to 2012 school year, nearly 23 percent of high school seniors admitted to using marijuana in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. Over the course of the year prior to the survey, 36 percent of high school seniors had abused the drug, and more that 45 percent – nearly half – of all high school seniors have used marijuana over the course of their lifetime. Allowing for a slight change from year to year, these numbers have remained steady for about two decades, having risen sharply around 1992 and 1993 and then maintained a level of use in the 30 to 37 percent range since 1994.

Perhaps some of the answers to the question of why teens so steadily expose themselves to marijuana can be found in their attitudes about it. In 2012, only 26 percent of 8th graders believed it poses “great risk” to smoke marijuana “once or twice,” while 66 percent felt it posed a “great risk” to smoke it on a regular basis. For high school seniors, these numbers changed to 14.8 percent and 44.1 percent, respectively. As the teens are exposed to the influences of high school, gain their independence, and perhaps are exposed to drug use over the course of time, their attitudes about the harmfulness of the drug seem to go down. Among high school seniors in 1993, a full 90 percent of students said they either disapproved or strongly disapproved of marijuana use on a regular basis. In 2012, that same question on the survey garnered only 77 percent of the study body for the same responses.

Getting Help for Your Teen

As a parent, you work hard to help your child create a bright and healthy future. At Muir Wood, we feel the same way. We also understand the complexities of drug and alcohol treatment, including the treatment of co-occurring disorders. Treatment includes many facets, including:

  • Proper assessment and diagnosis
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Ongoing evaluation and flexibility in treatment plans
  • Attention to academics

Getting the help you need when your son is abusing marijuana or other drugs is not as overwhelming as it may seem. Call us to find out how Muir Wood can help make a difference in your son’s future.