Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Columns

January 9, 2009

The risks of "experimentation"

What’s the big deal about marijuana?

Dec. 3, 2008 — by Pastor Jim Varney, ENOUGH president



“But it’s only marijuana” or “it’s only alcohol,” you say. “It’s a rite of passage.” “Teens are expected to experiment.” Not any more. The world has changed, and so have the drugs. In fact, the marijuana of today is stronger than ever before. Drug and alcohol use can lead to many negative consequences, including bad grades, broken friendships, family problems, trouble with the law, etc.

Most important, teens’ brains and bodies are still developing, and substance use can interfere with their emerging independence and efforts to establish their own identity. Drug and alcohol use can change the direction of a young person’s life – physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. It can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during a teen’s peak learning years, and impair judgment leading to risky decision making that could involve sex or getting into a car with someone under the influence of drugs.

“Experimentation,” even with marijuana, can also lead to addiction. Not everyone progresses from use to abuse to addiction, but it is a dangerous road and there is no way to know who will become addicted and who won’t.



Scientific research about risks

of "experimentation"

Drug and alcohol abuse by teens is not something to be taken lightly.

• More teens are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all otherillicit drugs combined.1

• A 1998 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says if a 15-year-old starts to drink, he or she has a 40% chance of alcoholism or dependence as an adult.2

• Kids are using marijuana at an earlier age. In the late 1960s fewer than half of those using marijuana for the first time were under 18. By 2001, about two-thirds (67 percent) of marijuana users were younger than 18.3

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