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Young adults afflicted with chronic illness vulnerable to alcohol and marijuana use: Study

Approximately 24 million Americans, including 6.3 million children, are suffering from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is costing the country billions of dollars in medical tests, lost school and work days, besides early deaths. Moreover, nearly 300,000 children in the country have been detected with juvenile arthritis, a condition found in children as young as six-month-old. According to experts, the presence of chronic illness does not deter children and young adults from taking alcohol and marijuana which leads to other disorders.

A recent study, titled “Alcohol and Marijuana Use and Treatment Nonadherence among Medically Vulnerable Youth,” tried to check if adolescents with critical medical conditions are more vulnerable to use of alcohol and recreational marijuana and if that impedes their aptness to look after themselves or their capacity to seek medical advice.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics in August 2015, looked at a survey carried out on 403 students to check as to how many had taken alcohol or smoked marijuana in the preceding year. The respondents in the age group of nine to 18, with the average age of 15.6 years, were suffering from either a debilitating disease, like asthma, cystic fibrosis, type 1 diabetes, juvenile arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease.

The participants took part in the electronic survey during a visit to one of their specialist physicians. Approximately 75 percent of participants who had agreed to take part in the survey were white. Approximately, three-fourths of the participants came from a background with at least one parent with a college degree. And an estimated 82 percent of the respondents were in high school.

The researchers, while collating the findings, observed that more than a third of high school students afflicted with a chronic disease had taken alcohol in the previous year. One-fifth of the respondents had admitted to smoking marijuana in the past one year. The researchers also found that there was a greater possibility among the youth who had confessed to taking alcohol to have missed or skipped taking their medications, for treatment of their condition, when compared with non-drinkers.

Study significance

The scientists consider the findings to be important because they highlight the problem of drinking and smoking marijuana among adolescents. The fact that alcohol consumption has been found to be associated with non-adherence to proper and timely intake of medications is a matter of concern.

The scientists said that alcohol can impact the lab test results adversely due to its effect on medications. Elissa Weitzman, Sc.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and a researcher said, “We have found that youth really want to understand these risks and are looking for information to be delivered to them as part of their care. They are specifically interested in how alcohol and other substances can affect them and their disease.”

Looking for recovery

The addiction to alcohol led to the death of an estimated 90,000 Americans in 2014, according to the CDC. Looking at the increasing number of people being affected by marijuana use disorders, there is a need to educate people about risks associated with marijuana overdose.

Complete recovery from any kind of addiction is difficult, though not impossible. The road to complete convalescence from drug dependence takes a lot of time and patience along with an urgent need to seek the advice of a certified medical practitioner. The Texas Drug Addiction Treatment offers high quality and comprehensive evidence-based treatment programs for adults and adolescents, including support services for family members. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-5757 or chat online for further information.

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