Many parents spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not their impressionable teenager is spending time with their friends smoking marijuana. Maybe all the tell-tale signs are there: red eyes, and joint roaches found in their rooms. You may be concerned, but when it comes down to it, is that really the worst thing they could be doing? Studies show that there have been no real adverse health effects besides a decrease in memory and slight cognitive function impairment if marijuana is consumed in moderation, whereas abuse of alcohol and cigarette smoking seem to pose the greatest risks.
The Problems with Underage Drinking
Alcohol is the most frequently abused substance by teens in America, and suspecting your child might be participating in underage drinking is truly terrifying. Drinking excessively accounts for more than 4,300 deaths in the underage community each year. In addition, in 2010 there were approximately 189,000 ER visits by young people under the age of 21 for conditions relating to alcohol consumption. There are a number of things that happen to a young person’s body when they consume alcohol.
In their daily lives, it can affect their grades, social standing, and get them into legal trouble. A greater chance of sexual activity and stunted sexual development may occur, along with a higher risk of sexual assault. Longer term effects include cognitive issues such as memory problems or a delay in brain development.
Alcohol poisoning, injuries, and car accidents are all very real possibilities when your child chooses to drink. Over time, alcohol use can cause the development of chronic illnesses such as:
- Digestive problems, liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
- Breast cancer, esophageal cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, and liver cancer.
- Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, alcohol dependency, and addiction.
In teens, cigarette smoking is fairly common. It holds just as much potential for adverse health risks as drinking, because smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. From the addiction in the brain to the loss of circulation in your toes, smoking touches everything and is just as dangerous. Two of the most important organs you have, however, take the brunt of the damage:
- The heart: You can stress out your heart, making it weaker and unable to efficiently pump blood to the necessary organs. Your heart has to work harder to push your blood around the body, therefore raising the risk of heart disease.
- The lungs: Smoking can cause scarring to your lungs by continued inflammation from the irritants in smoke. This can destroy vital parts of your lungs that will not grow back, possibly resulting in what is known as emphysema, and also lung cancer.
If your teenager is smoking pot, you might feel nervous and afraid due to all of the stigma surrounding it. However, it is believed that the dangers of alcohol and smoking cigarettes far outweigh the lesser effects of marijuana.