Marijuana has declaratively had the title of “gateway drug” taken away from it as science has revealed that alcohol is more inspiring to alternative forms of substance abuse. However, that doesn’t change the large quantities of adolescents and teens recreationally experimenting with or abusing marijuana. Marijuana is popular among youth populations because it is considered to be a safe drug. Comparatively, marijuana is considerably safer. Marijuana abuse in adolescence has been repeatedly proven to have a damaging effect to the brain. Until the early to mid twenties, the brain is still developing in critical areas like the prefrontal cortex. Marijuana abuse halts cognitive and psychological development, damaging the prefrontal cortex. The teens and adolescents who choose to experiment with marijuana are varied. New research from the University of Washington in Seattle discovered that the teens and adolescents who experiment with, then become dependent on marijuana are likely to have depression. Marijuana use disorder in late teenage years can be attributed to the presence of depression in early teenage years, the study found. Over 500 hundred students were utilized in the study which lasted for many years. At an age between 12-15 and then again at 18, the students were assessed. Researchers found that early adolescent depression increased the likelihood of marijuana use-disorder by 50%. Depression in the study was defined by depressive problems as well as problems of conduct. By the age of eighteen, 21% of the participants met the criteria for marijuana use disorder, 20% for alcohol use disorder.
Treating Depression In Adolescence
Symptoms of depression are often misconstrued for symptoms of adolescence. Hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms of depression without there being a fully diagnosable presence of a depressive disorder. Persisting symptoms of sadness, negativity, pessimism, lack of motivation, melancholy, and any signs of hopelessness should be immediately addressed. Struggling to fit in at school, perform academically, cope emotionally, or find direction are common experiences in adolescence, which can contribute to depression. Having a mental illness, especially an untreated and undiagnosed mental illness, has a higher likelihood of substance use disorder development in general. This new research emphasizes the need to address and assess signs of depression in early adolescence.
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