Weekly County Spotlight - Irion County
Irion County is located just West of San Angelo, Texas. As of the 2010 Census, its population is 1,599 people. Like many other counties served by the Region 9 Prevention Resource Center, there is one city in Irion County. The city of Mertzon, Texas has a population of 781 people and serves as the county seat for Irion County. Many of the counties in Region 9, including Irion county, have a such a small population that there is very little statistical data obtained from these regions. As such, it is often hard to highlight a piece of data for a particular county. This week, the PRC has decided to share a little information on Irion County, but also to share information on a topic which is salient to all of Region 9.
In Texas, Regions 9 and 10 have the most youth consumers of marijuana in Texas. For reference, these regions are highlighted in the picture above. In addition to having some of the most youth consumers, regions 9 and 10 have some of the youngest consumers of marijuana. The Texas state average for age of first use is 13.8 years old. The age of first use for regions 9 and 10 is 13.6 years. While this number is not significantly lower than the state average, it is worrisome that youth are initiating drug use at such a young age. In addition to using at a younger age, youth do not perceive marijuana as harmful. More and more youth do not think marijuana is harmful to them or their health, especially as they get older. In fact, results from the Regional Needs Assessment continuously reflect the trend of marijuana being perceived as harmful is going down among youth. This could arise, in part as a result of the legalization movements happening across the country and the myths surrounding marijuana and it’s use.
Here are some of the myths surrounding marijuana and its use. In addition, there are some facts about marijuana. Share them with the youth in their life to help them make healthy life choices.
Myth: Marijuana is legal in Texas.
Fact: Marijuana is illegal in Texas, as it is still a schedule 1 drug according to the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States.
Myth: But I heard CBD is legal in Texas… Doesn’t that mean marijuana is legal?
Fact: No, marijuana is still illegal in Texas and CBD is different from marijuana. CBD is a chemical derived from a marijuana plant, and only available in small quantities to certain, high-risk epilepsy-diagnosed individuals in Texas. This CBD does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets a user “high.”
Myth: Marijuana is not harmful.
Fact: Marijuana has both mental and physical harms to a user. Long-term marijuana use has been linked to mental illness in some users, such as temporary hallucinations, temporary paranoia, and worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed. Marijuana also has physical side effects which are worth noting. Breathing problems, increased heart rate, dry mouth, problems with child development during and after pregnancy. Most significantly, however, is delayed brain development in children and young adults while the brain is still developing. Cognitive impairment goes beyond memory loss and slowed brain development, as it is also a major traffic safety concern.
Myth: Marijuana is not addictive.
Fact: Marijuana use is associated with behavior similar to those seen in individuals addicted to other substances. In addition, the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 (DSM-5) does regognize problematic use as a mental disorder known as Cannabis Use Disorder. Currently, 62% of teens in drug treatment are dependent on marijuana.
Myth: Marijuana is not as harmful to your health as tobacco.
Fact: Marijuana contains many of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco. Puff for puff, the amount of tar inhaled and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by those who smoke marijuana, regardless of THC content, are three to five times greater than among tobacco users.
Myth: Driving high is safer than driving drunk.
Fact: Marijuana affects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time – essential skills for driving. While marijuana affects a different driving skill set than alcohol, even moderate doses of marijuana have been shown to reduce reaction time.
In the coming weeks, the Prevention Resource Center will be posting an extensive informational bulletin about marijuana, the issues surrounding it, information about its effects on the body, and other important information. The PRC hopes it will provide useful and valuable information to individuals who may not know much about marijuana or may have misconceptions about it. The Prevention Resource Center knows there is a lot of information out there about marijuana that is unreliable and we hope to provide clear, scientific information for people who are looking for it. If you have any questions, the PRC encourages you to reach out! Feel free to get in touch with us on social media or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published June 28, 2018.