As used marijuana, I have been peer
As a young and growing adult, I have physically grown with the surrounding issues, consequences, and have most commonly seen the temptations surrounding marijuana. I have chosen this specific topic as it is incredibly fascinating and interesting to see how marijuana has come to grow within our outstanding generations, adapt to the world we live in, and most controversially the outcomes and outstanding effects surrounding the uses of marijuana. Although I have never used marijuana, I have been peer pressured into doing so. Like most common teenagers, we try “new” things in order to make ourselves look “cool.” I was in my freshman year of high school and I chose to go to a school that had an outstanding performing arts program and let me tell you, the program might be outstanding, but the people (at least people I went to school with) actually took risks to bring many sorts of edibles infused with marijuana to school. Now, as it is a growing epidemic, marijuana has been a growing “toy” in many high school teenagers, including my best friend, Darleen. I met Darleen through my physical education class, we hit it off instantly, and we instantly became best friends. Surprisingly, she was the exact opposite from me. I was always seen as the typical innocent “good girl,” while Darleen was this rebel extraordinaire. One day, during nutrition, another student comes up to Darleen and gives her a regular looking brownie. A regular looking brownie, nothing to worry about right? Darleen took a bite out of that brownie as the bell had rung and we were rushing to get to class and as you know it, Darleen begins to act a little funny. A little weird. She began acting strangely, she would begin to laugh a lot, then suddenly begin to cry. So, I begin to think, “How strange.” I immediately ask to go to the nurses office and I ask to take Darleen with me. Instead, we head off to the bathrooms and I ask her if she was okay. In some cases, she wouldn’t even respond. Until, she had told me that the brownie she had bought, was actually an edible “weed” brownie. What stuck to me was not the effects of the use of marijuana, but rather her motives, the reason behind “why?” she did it. Darleen suffered from many traumatic events in her life, and she used marijuana to cope and escape reality. . .as most children, teenagers, and adults do. For them, it is not the typical “stoner stereotype,” instead it is a relaxer and an escape from this world. Ever since, that has been my takeaway and I learned this through her. Not only have I chosen this topic because it often reminds me of my best friend and her experiences with trying an edible “weed brownie,” as she called it. . .but also because of the recent epidemic surrounding marijuana. As we have recently heard and seen, marijuana has been recently legalized (a year ago) and by the start of the new 2018 year marijuana sales have been skyrocketing right in the heart of California – Hollywood. I know marijuana for its controversial issues and debates. I mean, the decision to regulate marijuana was sure a tough one. . .but as marijuana was sure a tough one to get a hold of back then, imagine now! The chances to obtain marijuana surrounding all ages are skyrocketing and we need to be prepared for the outcomes. Marijuana – also known as Cannabis, weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane – comes from Cannabis Sativa, which is a greenish-gray mixture of dried flowers. Marijuana is known to contains THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering compound responsible for most of its psychological effects. Marijuana is one of the most used drugs in the United States and most commonly used among young people. Marijuana is most commonly used in joints (hand-rolled cigarettes) and in water pipes (bongs). However, marijuana is also known to being mixed with food – cookies, lollipops, brownies, candy – which are also commonly known as edibles. However, marijuana has been in human use since the start of mankind. Marijuana, is known today for its elusive side effects and the most abused drug in the world, whereas in ancient Asia the drug was not planted and grown to get high, rather it was grown as a herbal medicine. Around 2737 BC Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, bought upon marijuana for his people and used the plant for medical purposes and focused its power to treat: rheumatism, gout, malaria, and absent-mindedness. Though many had mentioned of its intoxicating properties, Emperor Nung instead suggested that the medicinal value the plant brought upon was much more important. However, other places refused to see it this way. Let’s take a look at India. India used the plant recreationally, which Muslims eventually adopted for alcohol consumption, and ultimately was banned by the Koran. It was also the Muslims who introduced hashish, extract of the cannabis plant, who rapidly spread through many parts of North Africa and Iran throughout the 12th century. In fact, it wasn’t until 1545 when Spanish settlers brought marijuana into the New World. In 1611, the English introduced the plant where it became such a major popularity outbreak crop along with tobacco and was grown as a source of fiber. It wasn’t until the 1920s when marijuana was brought upon Prohibition. Marijuana was restricted to many people in the show business and at the time was not considered a social threat. Instead, marijuana clubs became the major outbreak in every major city. From 1850 to 1942, marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia and was used prescribed for various medical conditions, those including: labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism (Marijuana History, 2018). By the 1930s, U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now known as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs), portrayed the marijuana as a powerful, addicting substance that would lead users into narcotics addiction and is still considered to be a “gateway” drug by some authorities. By the 1950s, marijuana was an accessory of the beat generation and by the 1960s it was used by college students and “hippies” and became a symbol of rebellion against authority. It wasn’t really until the 1970s that The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified marijuana along with LSD and Heroin as a Schedule I drug, “having the relatively highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use” (Marijuana History, 2018). By this time, Mexico was the main hold/provider of distributing marijuana and in 1975 the Mexican government agreed eradicate the crop by spraying it with the herbicide, paraquat, which ultimately raised fears of toxic side effects. Soon after, Colombia became the main supplier and is responsible for the drug as we know it today. As any other drug, there come many consequences with utilizing the drug. Because marijuana is much powerful than it was centuries ago, it is an extremely high probability of adverse mental effects when the drug is abused. According to ‘narconon.org’ such short-term side effects include: distorted perceptions of time and space, increasing the risk of traffic accident or personal injury, and difficulty thinking and solving problems which ultimately can impede learning. Heavy use of marijuana is linked to mental disturbances: psychosis and schizophrenia, whereas chronic use of marijuana is linked to anxiety and depression. As we are the upcoming “growing age,” so is marijuana. Yet, for marijuana it is a whole new beginning. A rebirth. Along with myself and Darleen, one of the many traumatic events we both had to face growing up was definitely bullying. Along with the recent growing epidemic of bullying, as stated before, marijuana is following the same growing epidemic. As both are skyrocketing, the probability that these very same bullied children will abuse some sort of drug, including marijuana is extremely high. In Karen A. Matthew’s journal, “Childhood Bullying Linked to Health Risks in Adulthood,” details the experimental study conducted through Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science and is an experiment that was conducted on 300 men from first grade to their early thirties, in which findings indicated that being a victim of bullying and being a bully were both linked to negative outcomes in adulthood. The experimental study led by psychology researcher Karen A. Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh found that men who were bullies during childhood were more likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, experience stressful circumstances, and to be aggressive and hostile at follow-up more than 20 years later, whereas men who were bullied as children, tended to have more financial difficulties, felt more unfairly treated by others, and were less optimistic about their future two decades later (Childhood Bullying Linked to Health Risks in Adulthood, 2017). Matthew notes that the experimental study was conducted because Matthews and her colleagues hypothesized that both – bullies and bullying victims – might be at higher risk of negative health outcomes related to stress and was initially inspired through a previous study, in which researchers linked psychosocial risk factors like stress, anger, and hostility to increased risk of health problems such as heart attacks, stroke, and high blood pressure due to the traumatic factors bullying imposes on individuals. Matthews and her research team recruited participants 300 participants through Pittsburgh Youth Study and were given a series of questionnaires on psychosocial health factors, including: stress levels, health history, diet, exercise, and socioeconomic status. Concluding the study, it was found that around 260 of the same men came into the lab for blood draws, cardiovascular and inflammation assessments, and height and weight measurements, and it was ultimately found that neither bullying or being bullied was related to inflammation or metabolic syndrome in adulthood, instead it was found that both childhood bullies and bullying victims had an exceptionally high increase of psychosocial risk factors for poor physical health. The study specifically showed that the boys who engaged in childhood bullying tended to be more aggressive and were most likely to smoke marijuana in adulthood (a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease), whereas the boys with higher questionnaire scores for being bullied tended to have financial difficulties, lower incomes, and unfortunate life experiences along that they perceived unfair treatments relative to their peers and expressed an exceptionally high probability for cardiovascular disease. However, in “6 Strategies For Dealing With The Negative Effects of Bullying,” by author Rebecca Ruiz gives those bullying victims 6 strategic mantras for dealing with the negative effects of bullying, as the title suggests. As stated, there are 6 strategies: getting help from an adult, looking for social support elsewhere in life, coming up with a plan for how to respond to bullying, talking to a professional, avoiding internalizing stigma, and focusing on positive things that make one feel good. As Ruiz suggest, many people have come to upbring and brush off bullying as a “normal part of childhood that built character,” (6 Strategies For Dealing With The Negative Effects of Bullying, 2017) but as we all know – bullying tears people down in a number of ways. As experimental studies have become quite popular, it has recently shown that being bullied contributes to a number of effects: doing worse in school, abusing drugs and alcohol, and experiencing mental health problems. However, Ruiz suggests that new research published in Pediatrics suggests that “frequent bullying experiences in the fifth grade were associated with symptoms of depression in the seventh grade, which was related to a higher chance of using alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes in the 10th grade.” As strategy one suggests, “getting help from an adult, looking for social support elsewhere in life,” Ruiz mentions that research has demonstrated that many young people who have strong relationships tend to become more resilient. A strong relationship with a trusted adult can help one with bullying by discussing coping techniques, coming up with a plan for coping with bullying, identifying and helping build and strengthen social skills, and offering respect and support, and most importantly affirming self-worth. As strategy two suggests, “looking for social support elsewhere in life,” Ruiz suggests that people who often bully, do it in a way to isolate their “victim” for a large social platform. In this case, it is extremely important to seek friends elsewhere, those including: a sports team, clubs, and other social platforms. As strategy three suggests, “coming up with a plan for how to respond to bullying,” it is extremely important to be on the lookout for signs that you might be targeted. As a result, one needs to know that there are people you can turn to, some including: school officials and other adults. This way adults and people of authority can help prevent bullying in the community. But, if one chooses to disregard school officials and adults, it is very important to know that you can think about ways to respond to bullying behavior, of course in a very vigilant way. As strategy four suggests, “talking to a professional,” is extremely important. In fact, one of the most important strategies. Because bullying has been commonly linked to depression, suicidal thoughts, and harming themselves, it is extremely important to know that there are people who care and who are willing to help. It has also been shown that people who are bullied are more likely to have health problems including: headaches, stomach aches, back pain, and bedwetting and many problems cannot be solved on their own. In this case, it is extremely important to seek help as it could be the next step process – healing. As strategy five suggests, “avoiding internalizing stigma,” expresses that there are many young people are more highly targeted victims when it comes to bullying. People who are often obese, have chronic illnesses, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and are gender non-conforming are more often victimized. In this case, it is extremely important recognize that you can feel good about yourself even if others treat you poorly, which is, again, received through yourself and the group of people who support you (this goes back to strategy two). Lastly, Ruiz’s last strategical advice, number six suggests to “focus on positive things that make one feel good,” which is another extremely important strategy. Bullied adolescents usually tend to turn to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes to escape reality. So, it is extremely important to note that one can turn elsewhere to find comfort. Whether it’s hobbies, people, or simply objects, it is extremely important to note that one can escape reality without the use of succumbing more damage upon yourself. As that said, the increasing epidemic of bullying leaves traumatic scars to those infected and as stated, many find comfort in drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes to escape reality. Marijuana is one of the most used drugs in young adults and the majority of users count as bullying victims. My best friend, along with millions of other bullying victims find comfort in the uses of marijuana without knowing of the life-threatening effects of the drug. Matthews points out health effects related to bullies and bullying victims, whereas Ruiz points out a list of strategic “advice” to go by when you are now a victim of bullying. As a person who was tremendously bullied and is still traumatized by it, it is extremely important to note that there is help and there are other methods of comfort found without the use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. These are things I wish I could have known at the time, and although I did not abuse any of the above, I suffered a lot. My best friend did too. The difference between her and I, is that I believed I was much stronger. I suffered immensely through bullying, but I got through it without the uses of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I got through it with support from my family and support from my therapist, who I continue to hold sessions with on a regular basis. So, the important thing to take away is that there are people out there who care about you, who love you, and who are willing to help. It is worth it in the end, as you are an inch closer to healing.