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Post: The Reality of Teens and Weed

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The Reality of Teens and Weed
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Key points

Millions of teenagers in the United States use marijuana.

“Weed” may be the only emotional relief, albeit temporary, some teens can find.

Young people who are depressed are more likely to use marijuana, but it can make their depression worse.

The adult SUD and overdose crisis has its roots in teen and young adult use that targets and changes brains.

Sarah Y. Vinson, MD Source: Morehouse School of Medicine

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Sarah Y. Vinson says some adolescents use marijuana because it’s the only “medicine” they can access. For some teens, marijuana is to emotional pain as acetaminophen is to physical pain. A major reason for this lies in the difficulty of obtaining adequate (or any) mental health care and/or medications for adolescents.

According to Vinson, chair of the psychiatry department at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, “The reality for the poor traumatized kids I treat, and their parents and caregivers, is marijuana is a whole lot more accessible than high-quality, trauma-informed, culturally and structurally sensitive mental health care.”

She adds, “Marijuana is culturally sanctioned as a treatment for anxiety , depression , boredom , and a range of other psychiatric problems. Cannabis had been proposed as a treatment for most of the DSM and is the only treatment most of my patients can get regardless of whether it is safe or effective for any of these problems.”I asked child and adolescent psychiatry and addiction experts Vinson and Marc Potenza about the consequences of teen use of marijuana, and both said the impact of cannabis on the developing brains and behavior of young people is a special concern.According to Potenza , the Steven M Southwick Professor in the Yale Child Study Center and of Neuroscience ; and director of the Yale Program for Research on Impulsivity and Impulse Control Disorders : “Increasing knowledge about the harmful effects of alcohol may be decreasing alcohol consumption among some younger groups. Cannabis legalization has been accompanied by greater social acceptance of cannabis use, and these perceptions seem prominent among younger individuals. We see impacts on mood, psychiatric illness, increases […]

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