Teenagers and Cannabis Use: Why It's a Problem and What Can Be Done About It

Julie Worley
Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services 2019 March 1, 57 (3): 11-15
Teenagers' use of cannabis is a significant problem due to the known detrimental effects it has on the developing brain. Cannabis use in the teenage years is associated with a disruption to the brain's reward system, impaired memory and cognition, and the potential for structural brain changes. Smoking cannabis can have a negative impact on the pulmonary system because it is a respiratory irritant. Teenagers are increasingly using electronic cigarettes, or vaping, to administer cannabis, which delivers a higher concentration of its psychoactive properties. Teenagers are not recognizing the health or other risks of using cannabis, such as motor vehicle accidents. All teenagers should be screened for cannabis use, and education about cannabis use should be age-specific and start in elementary education and continue through high school. Nurses are in a prime position to provide up-to-date, evidence-based education to teenagers, parents, and other health care professionals about teenagers' use of cannabis. Additional measures that can affect cannabis use in teenagers are screening for other underlying mental health disorders; improving quality of life, self-efficacy, and spirituality; and providing teenagers with opportunities to naturally stimulate the brain's reward center. [Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 57(3), 11-15.].

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