Hopefully, you have stopped smoking marijuana. Marijuana is much more potent than it used to be. In the early 1990s, for instance, the average THC content was approximately 3.7%. A recent analysis of marijuana being sold in Colorado determined that the average THC content was 18.7%. The same might be true elsewhere. One expert featured in the Washington Post even noted that “underage kids have unbelievable access to nuclear-strength weed.” Because of this, there’s been a notable increase in the number of calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) survey report indicates that in 2018, approximately 11% of eighth graders and 36% of 12th graders had used marijuana. About 6% of those 12th graders reportedly smoked marijuana on a daily basis making it the most widely used illicit drug in the 44-year history of the survey.
Many teens consider marijuana safe or less risky than alcohol or other types of drugs. It’s a perception not based on fact. Higher potency levels make it more dangerous for adolescents. Though it can be useful in the treatment of some conditions involving pain, and others such as glaucoma, there are hazards in its use.
Developmental issues are also a factor. Studies show that the brains of teenagers are not fully developed until about the age of 25. Using mind-altering drugs when the brain is already in a vulnerable state is risky. Studies thus far indicate that it negatively effects executive function, memory, attention span, concentration, and IQ levels. Generally speaking, it is a drug that should be avoided by adolescents.
Psychologically healthy people don’t feel the need to use mind-altering substances. In order to protect one’s psychological health, it would be best to avoid all mind-altering substances.
Your situation is not unlike that of many teenagers. I receive many letters from people describing the same type of situation you have described. They too are struggling with the aftereffects of marijuana use. People often underestimate how their using drugs will negatively affect their psychological health.
It sounds as though you have anxiety. Anxiety is highly treatable with medication and psychotherapy. It seems to be the source of your problems. If you’re willing to consult a mental health professional, they can help you. It would be very wise to do so.
Understandably, you might be worried about getting into trouble if you were to admit to a mental health professional that you used drugs but you don’t have to worry about that. They might advise you to avoid using drugs but they’re not going to turn you into the police or tell your parents. They will be focused on your health, well-being and finding a solution to your anxiety.
To assess your symptoms, they will be collecting information. This includes things such as: how your symptoms manifest, how long you have been experiencing them, how you react to them, and related questions. The goal of collecting data is to understand the nature of this problem. It will assist them in determining a diagnosis. Treatment recommendations will likely include either medication and or psychotherapy. Once you begin treatment, your anxiety should dissipate. You should begin to feel better and more relaxed.
In the meantime, try to resist the urge to research the disorders that you fear having. It will likely only increase your anxiety levels. Giving in to anxiety often causes it to increase. You don’t want to make it worse if you can help it. Try to stay grounded in reality. That can be difficult, especially with heightened levels of anxiety, which is why you should seek professional assistance. They can help you. They will know what to do because they treat cases like this all of the time. Hopefully, you will take this advice and consult a mental health professional. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle