Marijuana is made from a plant called cannabis. It may be smoked or eaten. Hashish is a different form of marijuana, which is made by boiling down the plant until it is like tar. Spice, or K2, is an incense made from herbs that are sprayed with a chemical called THC, which is the same chemical found in marijuana. Spice can be smoked or put into a drink.
It is illegal for children to use marijuana in all states, unless it is prescribed by a healthcare provider. In some states, a healthcare provider can prescribe marijuana to treat epilepsy or other disorders.
Abuse and dependence are patterns of using drugs that lead to serious personal, family and health problems. Abuse is when your child keeps taking the drug even though it causes a problem such as:
If your child continues to abuse drugs, he can become dependent. When your child is dependent, he:
Your child may be abusing prescription marijuana if he or she:
Dependence is also called addiction. Not everyone who uses prescription or illegal marijuana will become addicted. However, it is the most commonly abused drug in the US.
Marijuana changes the way your child's body and brain work. When he uses a lot of marijuana, his brain starts to get used to it, and may need it to feel normal. As a result, he thinks about marijuana all the time, he doesn’t feel good unless he uses marijuana, and he may act different when he uses it. When he stops using marijuana suddenly, his brain gets over excited, which causes the symptoms of withdrawal.
Your child has a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs if he:
The symptoms of marijuana abuse or dependence depend on how much and how often your child uses the drug. The symptoms can be mild to severe, such as:
Your child may also have symptoms of new or worse health problems caused by marijuana use such as heart or lung problems.
The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can be mild to severe. Your child may have some of these symptoms when he stops using marijuana:
Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often your child uses marijuana. Your child needs to be honest about his drug use. Your provider needs this information to give your child the right treatment. He or she will also ask about your child’s symptoms, medical history and give your child a physical exam. Your child may have blood or urine tests.
Marijuana abuse and dependence can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, your child must want to stop using marijuana. When your child stops using marijuana, his or her healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help get through withdrawal symptoms. Your child should not use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
If your child is abusing or dependent on marijuana and wants to quit, get help. Support groups and therapy may be helpful. Your child’s healthcare providers and counselors will work with you and your child to develop a treatment program. Recovery from dependence is a long-term process. Follow-up treatment is very important so that your child doesn’t go back to abusing drugs.
If your child has overdosed, or is having severe withdrawal symptoms he will need to be treated in a hospital. He will also be treated for any other life-threatening problems.
You can help prevent marijuana abuse if you:
People and resources in your community that can help include healthcare providers, therapists, support groups, mental health centers, and alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. You may want to contact: