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Marijuana: Facts for Teens

Some Things to Think About

Teen boy sitting against lockers thinking.

Addiction:

People smoke marijuana for a lot of different reasons: to feel good, to feel better, to feel different, or to fit in. Whatever the reason, drug use has consequences.

Marijuana can be addictive. Not everyone who uses marijuana will become addicted. Becoming addicted to drugs depends on a lot of factors, including the genes you were born with, the age you start using, how easily you can access the drug, your home and family life, your peers, and so on. Repeated marijuana use can lead to a marijuana use disorder. The most severe form is known as addiction. Addiction means that you have trouble controlling your drug use even if it’s causing bad things to happen. About 11 percent of people who use marijuana in a given year may have a drug problem.2 Those who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a drug problem.3

Driving:

Marijuana is unsafe if you are behind the wheel.4 In general, teen drivers are less experienced and more likely to react poorly in risky situations than older drivers. They are more likely to drive recklessly, speeding and allowing less distance between vehicles. When you pair that inexperience with marijuana use, the results can be dangerous. Research shows that marijuana affects safe-driving skills, like judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana makes it hard to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. As with any psychoactive drug, impaired driving can cause deadly vehicle crashes.

An image of a car that simulates the feeling of driving while drugged.To learn more about the research behind drugged driving, visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/drugged-driving.

School:

Most teens don’t use marijuana.

Marijuana is linked to problems in school. Marijuana dulls your attention, memory, and learning skills. These effects can last for days and sometimes weeks, depending on how often you use marijuana. Compared with teens who don’t use, students who use marijuana are more likely not to finish high school or get a college degree.5 Marijuana also affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.

Mental Illness:

Marijuana use has been linked to an increased chance for mental illness. In addition to addiction, marijuana use is linked with a higher risk for schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. It’s not clear if marijuana use actually causes these conditions, but research shows a connection. The amount of drug used, the age at first use, and a person’s genes influence this relationship.

This page was last updated December 2017

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NIDA. (2017, December 25). Marijuana: Facts for Teens. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens

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