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Teens and Pot: More Are in Rehab, and Nora Volkow’s Thoughts

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Teens and Pot: More Are in Rehab, and Nora Volkow’s Thoughts

Not as “harmless” as many believe

You may have heard, like I have, that pot can be addicting, but until now, I haven’t seen many numbers about it.

First, here’s an analysis from CASA Columbia, a non-profit organization affiliated with Columbia University that conducts pot on parchment backgroundresearch and disseminates information about addiction and recovery, showing that teens entering rehab in 2012 were diagnosed with marijuana addiction more than any other drug. (The motto on their site is Ending Addiction Changes Everything. Isn’t that great?)

Second, Nora Volkow is sounding the alarm on pot more vociferously now that more states are legalizing recreational use. I love Nora, who I met with Joan when Nora spoke at the Path Foundation in New York in March, which Joan posted about. I’ve loved her since I first saw her on the HBO Special on Addiction some years ago. She’s brilliant. Anyway, in June, she gave Ruth Marcus an interview at the National Institutes of Health in which she talked about pot. I particularly like what syndicated columnist Marcus, of The Washington Post, thought was most important thing Volkow imparted in the interview:

“For those who argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol, Volkow has two main answers: “We don’t entirely know, and, simultaneously, that is precisely the point.”

And there’s this: “The legalization process generates a much greater exposure of people and hence of negative consequences that will emerge. And that’s why I always say, ‘Can we as a country afford to have a third legal drug? Can we?’ We know the costs already on health care, we know the costs on accidents, on lost productivity. I let the numbers speak for themselves.”

If you’ve heard Volkow speak, you recognize her carefully reasoned arguments that make such perfect sense and that she delivers in a calm and scientific, yet impassioned manner.

Should you need other information on pot’s ill effects, here’s a 28-page presentation she gave in 2010.

And here’s a review she wrote with others for The New England Journal of Medicine.

Back to what she told Marcus that June day: “The notion that legalization represents a modest, cost-free move is dangerously overblown. The evidence on the supposed safety of marijuana — particularly marijuana in its modern, far more potent form is far from clear.” And in that sentence was a link to one of her messages in 2013 where she warned that our youth are setting themselves up for lifelong consequences by smoking pot.

For those adolescents who may be wanting treatment for a pot addiction, here’s an article a colleague of mine wrote for The Fix for parents, on what to ask when looking for a treatment center for adolescents.

I’ve written before that teens smoking pot seem to be as common as daisies in spring. For anyone thinking that the subject has gotten old, this post should show that kids smoking pot is still a significant issue. Not just important, but crucial. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with an adolescent or 20-something about the perils of pot? It’s downright scary.

And this is just as the FDA is thinking of reclassifying it as a less harmful drug. Not a thought that inspires joy.

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