Yes, it can be, according to an informational book published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). About 1 out of every 11 people who try marijuana will become addicted.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week ended on Sunday, but there are still some great resources out there to help teach teens how to navigate this path with wisdom and, of course, facts.
NIDA has published a free booklet called “Drugs: Shatter the Myths,” that offers some great insight and advice for teens and their parents.
For instance, most people who smoke started before the age of 18. Product placement in movies and TV shows contributes to the idea that smoking is cool, which prompts teens to start lighting up even when faced with the facts on how addictive it is and how bad it is for their health.
The booklet calls on their common sense as well as their vanity to convince them otherwise. Cigarette smoking can lead not only to lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer and heart disease, but also wrinkles, yellow teeth, cataracts and skin disease.
Then there is drinking. About 1 in 4 of the teens who begin drinking before age 15 become alcoholics.
Alcohol can lead not only to a slew of medical problems but to bad judgment and impairment. Those conditions can cause a teen to drive while drunk, get into a car with a driver who is drunk, take other drugs or to uninhibited sex that can lead to sexually-transmitted diseases, some of which, such as HIV, are not curable.
In fact, according to NIDA, behaviors associated with drug misuse are among the main factors in the spread of HIV infection in the United States. The booklet directs readers to a webisode series that tells the story of Kim. Kim spends time at a party drinking and flirting with a guy she has met. The next morning, she reviews the events of the evening. How many drugs did she get from her friend, Ana? She did have sex with that guy?
She is faced with a question: “Does Kim know that drinking and getting high can affect more than one night of her life?” If she didn’t realize it then, she soon will, because one night of bad judgment means a lifetime of HIV for Kim.
This topic has always been an important one when it comes to teens, but it's even more vital now as the country faces an opioid crisis, one that West Virginia is at the center of.
The NIDA website, sponsored by the National Institutes for Health, has a wealth of information, some geared to teens directly and others to their teachers and parents. It’s worth checking out and seeing all the great tips and insights it can offer teens as they figure out these issues, as well as for the mentors and guardians who can help guide them.
You also will find the booklet “Drugs: Shatter the Myths,” which is a great tool to use when having these important discussions with the teen in your life.