College students nationally have been using more marijuana over the past several years. Since 2000, the number of college students who have reported using marijuana in the past year has risen from 30% to 38% in 2015. In Washington, marijuana was recently legalized for adults over the age of 21. According to initial research, young adults in Washington (age 18-25) have a higher rate of marijuana use compared to young adults nationwide. Even at SPU, there has been an increase in drug abuse violations in the past couple of years.
Like smoking cigarettes, marijuana smoke is an irritant to the throat and lungs. This can lead to heavy cough during use and damage to the lungs. Although some people believe that marijuana is not addictive, marijuana use can actually lead to marijuana use disorder, which can take the form of addiction. In fact, up to 30% of marijuana users show signs of marijuana use disorder. People with marijuana use disorder, report experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Irritability and mood problems
- Sleep disturbance and restlessness
- Decreased appetite
- Physical discomfort
These symptoms can even last up to 2 weeks after last use. Aside from these physical changes, marijuana can also interfere with daily responsibilities, like impacting friendships or romantic relationships, quality of schoolwork, and class attendance. Furthermore, research suggests that students who use marijuana may be at greater risk for developing anxiety and depression.
If you are worried that your marijuana use is getting out of control, its okay to ask for help. The Student Counseling Center has a number of great resources. If you are worried about a friend who may be struggling with drinking or drug use, consider reaching out to them and offering support.
Want to learn more? The Wellness Initiative is hosting Seeing Double: Separating Substance Use Fact from Fiction – a one-day program on January 24th, 2017 that will provide students with information about alcohol and marijuana use. Join us all day long to “Test Your Vision” in interactive activities, get your questions about alcohol and drug use answered from an expert panel, and learn the latest science behind alcohol and marijuana use at our evening keynote address.