Colorado Prepares for Marijuana Addicted Teens | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Colorado Prepares for Marijuana Addicted Teens

Treatment centers expect to see increasing numbers of people seeking treatment for pot addiction.

Image: 

Colorado residents line up to buy marijuana Photo via

By Allison McCabe

01/07/14

| Share

While many in Colorado spent the first day of 2014 celebrating recreational marijuana’s newly legal status, Dr. Christian Thurstone, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado and the head of teen rehab center Adolescent STEP: Substance Abuse Treatment Education & Prevention Program, was preparing for an influx of new patients. When the law passed in November, Thurstone started increasing his staff. Now he has double the employees that he had prior to November, and his facility still has a waiting list.

Although the purchase of marijuana is restricted to people 21 and over, Thurstone and other psychiatrists are worried that the new law will make more potent marijuana even more widely available to teenagers than it has been since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2009. After the law passed in 2009, teenagers reported that they were using “much higher potency products,” according to Thurstone, such as solid forms which had up to 50 or 60 percent of THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of marijuana as well as to addiction, according to Thurstone. After consuming the higher potency marijuana, some teens have had psychotic episodes or breakdowns. “Anecdotally, yes, we’re seeing kids in treatment here who have paranoia and seeing things and hearing things that aren’t there,” Thurstone said. “Adolescent exposure to marijuana [raises] risk of permanent psychosis in adulthood.”

Additionally, teens who suffer from mental illness may experience breaks with reality after using the highly potent form of the drug, according to Ben Court, an addictions expert at the University of Colorado Hospital Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR). “For the person on shaky ground, you add this to the equation and it’s gas on the fire,” he said. According to Thurstone, 80 percent of teens in substance abuse treatment also suffer from underlying mental illness.

Ben Court believes that if a young person consistently uses marijuana, he is more likely to become addicted than if he had started later in life. “Most people are going to smoke weed and it’s not going to be an issue. By 18 to 24, your odds are less than 1 in 10 that you’re going to be addicted,” Court said. “If you start under 18, it’s 1 in 6.” Thurstone has treated children as young as 11 for addiction to marijuana.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv