Young People, Marijuana and Psychiatric Disorders

marijuanaThe long, arduous road to the polls has finally come to end with the nation casting their votes. The night of November 8th was long for many Americans as they eagerly awaited the results, and it goes without saying that some Americans find themselves in a dark place as they try to make sense of it all. We cannot express enough just how important it is for everyone to stay calm and collected as we move forward, especially those who are working a program of recovery.

It is fair to say, that this Presidential election has put unprecedented amount of stress on millions of Americans; it is vital that people in recovery work through how they are feeling in healthy ways, without having to resort to drugs or alcohol. Remember, the future being uncertain is never an excuse to pick up a drink or drug, doing so would only make matters worse.

The Future of Marijuana

Aside from what can only be characterized as a vitriolic presidential election, a major topic of the 2016 election was marijuana, whether that be for medical or recreational use. Going into the election there were 25 states and D.C. with medical marijuana programs, and four states with active adult recreational use programs. Yesterday, Americans in five states voted “yes” for legalization, The Washington Post reports. States that legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21 include:

  • California
  • Maine (still counting votes)
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada

Three states voted “yes” on medical marijuana initiatives, including:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • North Dakota

More than half of the 50 states have adopted a medical marijuana program of some kind, and eight states have legalized recreational use for adults. With the passing of Proposition 64 in California, many experts expect something like a cascade effect in other states regarding marijuana in the near future. This could signal the end to nearly 100 years of cannabis prohibition in the U.S., which most Americans believe perhaps did more harm than good. A large percentage of the prison population in the United States are incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses.

Young People Beware

Most young adults in America are in favor of ending cannabis prohibition, coming out in favor of the propositions voted on yesterday. Most would agree that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, two addictive substances that are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country each year. While that view is not inaccurate, it is important for young people to be aware that research shows that marijuana can be addictive and can seriously impact developing brains.

There is also significant research indicating a link between young people using marijuana and the development of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. The chief of the Psychotic Disorders Division at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital has something to say on that subject. Dr. Dost Öngür, is an expert on psychosis who believes that people should wait until after their twenties to use marijuana, according to WBUR. The link between heavy “pot” use and mental illness is something that Öngür would like young adults to be aware of the potential consequences of heavy use.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Family Recovery Specialists works with young people and adults with co-occurring disorders, including psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. We understand the sensitive relationship between substance abuse and mental health problems. Offering a highly individualized approach to adult and teen substance abuse and mental health treatment, we provide family therapy, outpatient rehab, at-risk programs, therapeutic consulting, crisis management, and recovery coaching for guests suffering with substance use and mental health disorders.

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