Among American adults, the popularity of marijuana is on the rise, and the recreational usage is set to increase sharply among teens as well, according to results from several surveys.
In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, they say that about a third of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are users of marijuana, and have used it more than once in 2017 alone. This statistic serves to represent the growing importance of the development of intervention tactics that specifically target young adults and teens – this happens to be the prime period for introducing them to the substance since habits start forming around this time.
Statistics on marijuana use
The statistics are not encouraging, to say the least. In fact, a 2010 study on global drug use conducted by the U.N., the substance happened to be the most widely produced, distributed and used drug in 2010.
The report revealed that the number of worldwide users, all people who are 18 years or older, averaged somewhere between 119 to 224 million people. The signs of the drug decreasing in popularity are also not likely to happen soon, as states in the United States are working on legalizing the drug, and it has a solid place in pop culture, as many celebrities advocate for its use.
Although the usage is generally slowing down in North America and Oceania, the popularity is increasing in other continents, including South Asia, Africa, and Central Asia.
In addition, users in Europe and North America are increasingly using the herb, and moving away from the ‘hashish’ form of the substance (the form that is smoked), and the drug itself is increasing in potency due to cultivation in hydroponic environments – growing the plant indoors using mineral nutrient solutions without soil, resulting in a stronger plant.
However, in order for the experts concerned to strategize effectively, they first need to know and understand the reasons young adults and teens are turning to the substance. Here are some reasons that have led to the increasing popularity of the drug among the youth.
If there is a stage in life that is very impressionable, it is the teen and young adult stage. An individual is asserting themselves away from the authority of their parents or guardians, and tryingto look cool in the eyes of their peers – that peer pressure leads them to try out the drug. In addition, they may be going through certain pressures in their lives – such as moving to a new area or job, joining a new school or college, or forming new friendships and trying to sort out their personal identity.
This is a time of transition for them – and it is also when they are most vulnerable. Therefore, the social environment they live in and operate is very important in determining whether they will experiment with the drug.
It is important to note that the peer pressure will not come from their peers in school alone – it can come from other sources and even their own families. Besides their peers, pop culture is another source of pressure – either they hear songs about it, see people using it in movies or television, or they see influential people and celebrities advocating for the substance.
The belief that marijuana is harmless
The truth is there are few research studies that show the harmful effects of the substance, especially long0—term negative effects. Therefore, it has led to a belief that ‘marijuana is harmless’, and making it have greater appeal than other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, tobacco or even alcohol.
However, people seem to conveniently forget that marijuana is a drug just like any other, and it definitely has detrimental effects on your physical and psychological health. The short-term use of the substance has various harmful effects on you, some of which are a loss of coordination, loss of memory, thinking problems, altered levels of stress, and anxiety.
The long-term usage of the drug has been proven to have effects on the heartbeat of an individual, as the heart rate increases. It also increases the chances of the person suffering from immune infections (it weakens the immune system), increasing respiratory and lung infections, increasing the incidences of paranoia and hallucinations, and so on.
The use of marijuana has negative effects on the relationships of the person with others and brings lower satisfaction with life. It is capable of leading to an addiction to substance abuse, and even tolerance and overdoses.
The problem with this perception is the levels of the active ingredient, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) has increased in the substance, especially in the ‘edibles’ such as weed cookies, brownies and other products such as gummy bears. These products may seem harmless, but they pose high dangers for addiction or overdoses since the levels of THC is not standardized.
Marijuana is widely available
Compared to other drugs (except alcohol), marijuana is widespread, and its availability is a major factor in its popularity. The fact that many states are now legalizing the drug is making the situation worse, as many young adults are now able to purchase supplies or have access to those that do.
This is particularly prevalent for college-age students, since they have less supervision from adults as well as greater levels of discretion. Statistics from the National College Health Assessment reveal that at least 40 percent of students in college have experimented with marijuana, while the use is greater among college seniors compared to college freshmen.
Apart from the reasons above, young people are turning to the drug because they want to ease boredom, feel better about themselves, seek deeper insights (a common cause of the popularity from pop culture), escape their problems, and even decreasing or increasing the effects of other drugs.
The use of marijuana is increasing among young people all over the world, and it should be raising concern among policy makers. However, solutions cannot be found unless people are willing to understand the reasons people are turning to the drug.