According to the 2019 National Institute on Drug Abuse’s monitoring survey, that they have been conducting since 1975, the amount of teens who vaped marijuana in the past year nearly doubled compared to the two previous years. They also asked questions about daily marijuana use for the first time and found that 3.5% of 12th graders, 3% of 10th graders and .8% of 8th graders were using daily.
It’s not uncommon for teens to experiment with marijuana, however the marijuana they are smoking today is not the same as what was being smoked by teens in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. In the 80’s the THC concentration was around 2-5%, but today typical flower marijuana can be found with 25% THC, and some vape cartridges are available with a THC concentration of 90%. They are able to get this high of a THC concentration because they extracted only the THC from a plant and they add practically nothing else. This means that when a user takes just one hit of a wax pen they are getting the same amount of THC as they would from smoking two joints. While some smokers use a glass piece like a bong to smoke their wax, most teenagers choose vape pens for multiple reasons.
For one, there is no doubt that the younger generation has a fascination with technology because they have been surrounded with it their entire lives. So it is no surprise that teens are turning to electronic devices for drug use compared to traditional cigarettes or flower marijuana. Secondly, because these pens use vapor technology they are practically odorless and are usually tasteless or sweetly flavored. Not only does this make it easier to disguise and hide at home, but now it is more common than ever for teens to smoke before or at school, while they’re driving or during other important events where they should be sober and attentive. This ability to transport their drug with them anywhere they go is a possible reason for why daily marijuana use has increased for teens.
As we see a rise in daily marijuana use by teens, there is no doubt we will soon see a dramatic increase in young adults suffering from severe addiction. Marijuana can be extremely addicting for adults, but when it is paired with a developing, teen brain that relies heavily on the reward center for making decisions it can lead to lifelong dependency or severe withdrawal. Not only may teens have to deal with early onset addiction, but they may also impede their ability to effectively deal with their problems as an adult without turning to drugs as the solution.
There is no doubt that the teenage years are difficult and may feel like an emotional rollercoaster, but if your teen is able to fully experience the emotions they are supposed to during this time, rather than numbing themselves with drugs anytime something gets difficult, then they will develop healthy coping skills that will allow them to overcome similar emotions they may face in the future. The teen who numbed themselves constantly because they were often bored, uninterested or stressed will only know drugs as their coping mechanism and will most likely grow up to suffer from addiction. Give your child the tools early to combat boredom and strong emotions so they don’t feel the need to turn to drugs in the first place. Keeping an eye on your kids 24/7 is practically impossible, but the more attention you give them and the more they know you are watching the less likely they are to feel the need to act out for attention. As a parent you should be recognizing and addressing any drastic changes in behavior you notice in your child, especially if that behavior is sneaky, extra moody or just suspicious.
By// Jessica Lee