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America's Dropout Crisis: The Unrecognized Connection to Adolescent Substance Use discusses decades of scientific studies that show the connection between adolescent substance use and school failure.
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A Father's Story

Ed Wood's son, Brian, was killed when the driver of the vehicle that hit his car asked her passenger to steer while she changed her sweater. Both of the women tested positive for marijuana and other drugs. The drivers received light sentences because, as with most states, the laws in that state did not satisfactorily address drugged driving.
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A Doctor's Story

Christian Thurstone, M.D. is a board-certified child psychiatrist and addiction psychiatrist. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver and a nationally recognized researcher in the field of adolescent substance treatment.
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A Teen's Story

On November 16, 2011 testifying before the New York City Council at hearings on medical marijuana, Max Schwartzberg described his first use of marijuana at age 12 and his subsequent long-term addiction.
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What Parents Need to Know

"Medical" Marijuana

Drug Abuse and Teens: It's a Big Deal
Tell Your Teen Not To Use
It is easy to trivialize teen use of substances such as marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. Many parents think such use is a rite of passage or, in some way, inevitable, but all of these substances are addictive. All involve serious health, safety and social consequences. The moment a teen dies in an impaired driving crash, overdoses on drugs, does poorly in school or completely drops out because of drugs, suddenly substance use isn't so trivial.

What parents say to their pre-teens and teens really does matter. Research shows that teens do listen to their parents. Tell your children not to use any substances. Nothing. No alcohol. No tobacco. No marijuana. No prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them. No other illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin or ecstasy. Say it often. All are bad for health and can have other serious consequences. All are illegal for teens. Encouragingly, the number of teens that do not use any substances is growing every year. There is no confusion, only one message: NO USE.

This website provides facts and resources about tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, other illegal drugs as well as edibles, vaping, and injecting.

The average potency of today's marijuana is 244% higher -- yes, you read that right -- than the average potency of marijuana smoked in the 1980s. As a result, today's marijuana is more addictive and harmful -- especially for adolescents, who are in crucial stages of brain development. Parents shouldn't dismiss today's teen marijuana use based on their own use of lower potency pot when they were young. What kids smoke today is not their parents' marijuana.

Largely because of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use in several states, the drug is more available, accessible -- and socially accepted. Already, government agencies across our country are reporting sharp increases in problems associated with adolescent marijuana use. High school seniors are using marijuana at rapidly increasing rates that have not been seen in the United States for three decades.

This combination of a stronger drug and more drug use is bad news. Decades of research on the negative effects of marijuana on the developing brain are yielding disturbing results. These new findings -- many of which point to long term and permanent cognitive deficits -- should concern parents and teenagers. Marijuana use is associated with:

  • lower academic achievement
  • high school and college dropout
  • serious mental health problems
  • chronic, lifelong struggle with drug addiction.
While many teenagers use marijuana with no apparent ill effects, the drug robs many others of their future. Summary of Research -- Marijuana and Kids: It's a Big Deal.

Vaporizing is the intake of marijuana vapor by using a device that creates steam to inhale rather than the traditional inhalation of smoke produced by burning leaves. Vaping devices were originally developed to create an alternative way to inhale nicotine. Smoking e-cigarettes is safer than smoking cigarettes but far from safe. The marijuana industry has co-opted these devices, which deliver a high percentage of THC rapidly to the bloodstream. For more about this topic check out "Vaping" - The Transformation of Marijuana.

Prescription Drugs
Home medicine cabinets often contain highly potent prescription drugs. The nonmedical use of these drugs poses a serious threat to health and safety to all users, and in particular, teens. Opioids used to treat pain are often misused and diverted. These painkillers are primarily responsible for overdose deaths, and many regions of the country are experiencing a resurgence of heroin use and related deaths, by individuals who began their opioid use with prescription drugs. A segment on The Today Show features the serious problem of prescription drug use by teens.

Another problem is the non-medical use of stimulants like those to treat ADHD. These drugs are used by young people with the hope of enhancing academic performance; however, are the most widely abused drugs among 12- and 13-year-olds. The nonmedical use of these medicines poses serious risks for young brains.

A new heroin epidemic is sweeping the nation, but this time it is hitting big city suburbs, small and medium towns, small cities, and rural areas as well as its old haunts in inner cities. Its primary victims are young people ages 18-25. Many are high achievers. What most of them they have in common is the prior use of other substances - marijuana, alcohol and prescription opioids. Today's heroin is cheap, very easily accessible and is often offered as a free sample to a non-heroin using poly-drug using teens. The heroin supply chain used to be traced to sources such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, but now more commonly is the mountains of Western Mexico. Its delivery system is likened to the home delivery of a pizza, a short call to a local dealer's cell phone or to a Mexican call center and the order is on its way to the requested safe drop off spot. It's a quick discreet process. The heroin is high quality and sometimes laced with fentanyl, a particularly lethal combination. Young people are dying from heroin overdoses every day.

Abstaining from Substance Use
Teens, you are not alone if you do not use any of these illegal substances. Many teens choose to abstain. In fact your numbers are increasing every year. Read It's Time to Re-Think Prevention: Increasing Percentages of Adolescents Understand They Should Not Use Any Addicting Substances.

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