Children as young as 9 years old in the United Kingdom are being admitted to hospitals with mental and behavioral disorders caused by cannabis.
National Health Service (NHS) figures reveal that more than 3,400 under the age of 19 were admitted to hospital with disorders triggered by the drug, reported the Daily Mail.
Admissions to the hospital for that age group increased by 38 percent since 2013/14 and by 10 percent in the last year alone, according to the NHS numbers.
With cannabis available on social media websites, doctors are dealing with a new generation of drug addicts.
— CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform (@CLEARUK) March 25, 2019
“Social media is, without doubt, one of the most common ways to procure drugs. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook–they are very easy to [use to] buy and sell drugs. There are loads of different accounts that you can start following which will constantly put drugs up for sale,” said Paul North, who worked for drug treatment services in York and Leeds, to the Daily Mail.
North is currently the director at independent think-tank Volteface, and he said the drug has been a nightmare for police.
“If you think about historically how kids got drugs in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, you’ve got to hang around and find a drug dealer. You’ve got to go in a house and get to know them. What you can do now is just get them on Instagram and get them to post them to you or show up at your house,” North said.
The NHS website says that the risk of developing a psychotic disorder is much higher when one starts to take cannabis at a younger age. It can lead to psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, hallucinations, and delusions, as well as other risks including bronchitis, lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and fertility problems.
Dr. Niall Campbell, a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in London said addicted teenagers and others in their early twenties are getting admitted to the hospital for emergencies with paranoid psychoses.
“They believe they are being watched, followed and listened to 24 hours a day by unknown pursuers who mean to harm or kill them. This can lead to violent, or sometimes suicidal, behavior as they flee imagined pursuers,” he said.
High-potency cannabis, or frequent use, raises the risk of psychosis https://t.co/w5KaT8WsZy
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 24, 2019
He said these youngsters believe the urban myth that unlike alcohol and cigarettes cannabis is good for mental health.
The NHS figures obtained by Daily Mail show that out of 3,414 admitted for cannabis-related psychotic disorders, two were children nine or under. Admissions for girls under 19 years rose by 43 percent from 2014 to 2018.
“No matter where you are … cannabis is much easier to access than alcohol. The Home Office has legalized cannabis for medicinal use and that message has been quite verbal to young people. There’s a message that cannabis is benign and harmless,” said Ian Hamilton, a senior lecturer in mental health services at the University of York.
In London, 30% of new cases of psychosis in the study were estimated to be tied to strong cannabis https://t.co/shJsUUJ0en
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 25, 2019
Cannabis Addiction Among Teens in the United States
Cannabis is the second most commonly abused drug and the most illicit used drugs among teenagers in the United States, according to Drug Rehab, a resource website.
Even in the United States, teens believe that cannabis can’t be harmful because it’s natural.
However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens, cannabis use can lead to lasting harm in the teenage brain.
“In [high school] seniors, 5.9 percent of them report regular marijuana use, which is basically daily use,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA.
“Why is this of concern? Because they are in school, and they are supposed to be learning and memorizing. This pattern of use has been shown to be associated with impairment in educational achievement and with very significant levels of dropout,” said Volkow.