Marijuana continues to be the most popularly abused illegal drug amongst the American Youth. With about one in nine high school seniors admitting use of marijuana in the past month, more teens today smoke marijuana than tobacco cigarettes.
Recent public media attention to marijuana legalization debate and a general perception of marijuana as a "safe" and "natural" substance may be important factors in the issue of growing marijuana use.
By the theories of dependency and physical tolerance, marijuana serves as a stepping stones to other substances and harder drugs once the body has become tolerant of marijuana's effects.
For many parents, the advent of synthetic marijuana is now a major concern. These chemicals are sprayed onto the herbal blend, and interact with the brain similarly to conventional marijuana. The high from synthetic marijuana is described as much more intense, unstable, and addictive.
Other Substances of Concern
Underage alcohol consumption is one of the most dangerous aspects of the youth substance abuse problem, as drunk driving and recklessness takes thousands of teen lives every year.
Teenage abuse of ecstasy (MDMA) in the past year has been seen on the decrease, dropping from 5.3% of high school seniors admitting past-year use in 2011 to 3.8% in 2012. Ecstasy remains on the youth radar as a dangerous substance, still sitting within the top 20 list of most popular drugs.
The Substance Abuse Epidemic
In addition to marijuana and the above-mentioned substances, parents and teachers alike should be watchful for signs of abuse of these drugs:
· Bath Salts, Cough medicine/cough syrup, Prescriptions tranquilizers, and sedatives
The power of preventative measures is often underestimated, but they can change the course of a teen's life.