Can youth become addicted to marijuana?

Despite what Big Marijuana might have you believe, marijuana is quite addictive —especially for those who start using it before or during adolescence. Statistics show that about one in six (about 16.7%) of youth who use marijuana will become addicted. One in three (33.3%) youths who use marijuana every day become addicts.

Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) is one of the ten types of Substance Use Disorders recognized, as of 2022, by the bible of the psychiatric profession, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision, better known as DSM-5-TR. The DSM recognizes 11 diagnostic criteria for Substance Use Disorders, including cravings, inability to stop using or cut down even when wanted, using even when the substance causes serious problems in relationships, using even when it puts the user in danger, and more.

CUD can present as Mild, Moderate, or Severe. People with Mild CUD display 2-3 or the criteria mentioned above, while those with Moderate CUD display 4-5, and those with Severe CUD display six or more.

CUD can also trigger other disorders, including psychosis, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, delirium, depression, and neurocognitive (thinking) disorders. Physical, mental, and behavioral issues can also occur due to withdrawal whenever a user cuts back or tries to stop using marijuana.

The best bet is to avoid marijuana altogether. As parents, keep an eagle eye on their behavior and ban marijuana use completely, as there is no safe level of THC in the developing adolescent brain.

Read the March 7, 2023 Johnny’s Ambassadors Newsletter

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