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The lasting effects of marijuana on the young mind

Published On: 08-19-2015 in Category: Addiction, Addiction Treatment, Recovery, Treatment Centers


Marijuana is defined as dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The chemical in the plant that creates distortion when ingested is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. Marijuana can be consumed by smoking, eating, drinking or even inhaling through a specialized vapor.

With the legalization of marijuana in the process and influential people such as Bill Gates, Jon Stewart and President Barack Obama openly supporting this campaign, marijuana is becoming more accepted in modern day society. It is crucial to understand the negative outcomes of marijuana use. Effects include rapid heartbeat, disorientation, lack of physical coordination, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, infertility, lower blood pressure, changes in blood sugar, risk of heart attack, shallow breathing and lung related complications, to name a few.

Even if marijuana is legal in some states, it does not make it harmless. It is crucial to remind young generations of the detrimental effects marijuana has because they are growing up in a society that is more accepting of this substance. Teenagers are at the highest risk of succumbing to brain dysfunctions that marijuana causes. Smoking marijuana at a young age can cause permanent defects because the brain is in the process of developing. It can cause issues with memory, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

According to science writer, Dana Smith, Ph.D., a recent study published in “Schizophrenia Bulletin” reveals the damaging effects that cannabis can have on memory. The report states that people dependent on the drug, both healthy individuals and patients with schizophrenia, show impairments in memory compared to healthy participants and non-smoking schizophrenia patients. The cross-sectional results suggest that both cannabis use disorder groups were characterized by working memory impairment deficits and subcortical neuroanatomical differences (meaning changes in the brain).

According to drugabuse.gov, when teenagers begin using, it affects brain development and may reduce learning functions involving how the brain builds connections. These effects may be long term or even permanent. The earlier in life the drug is used, the more damage the brain will endure.

Using marijuana significantly decreases performance in teens even though they are capable of functioning at their peak if they avoid use. This will also lead to a decrease in gratification and motivation in life. A habit like this can destroy a young person’s future by causing academic struggles, impaired cognitive skills and physical disorientation. If one starts getting bad grades and is banned from extracurricular activities he or she usually enjoys due to the effects of using, this can lead to a path of future difficulties.

A study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teen years and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder, lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults did not show notable IQ declines, but the lost mental abilities did not fully return even after quitting (Meier, 2012).

Not only is cognitive damage higher when using starts at a young age, but incidences of addiction are also higher. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9 percent of people who use marijuana become dependent on it. The number increases to about one in six among those who start using it at a young age and 25 percent to 50 percent among daily users.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, interrupts and takes control of the natural process of endocannabinoids, a specific group of chemicals that play key roles in memory formation, learning and decision-making that help the brain mature properly, according to Ruben Baler, a neuroscientist with NIDA.

The NIDA also reported that the use of pot among adolescents declined from the late 1990s through the mid-to-late 2000s, but is now on the rise again. Today’s society is becoming more tolerant to marijuana use, but educating younger generations of the damaging effects this substance has on their lives can make a difference.

As a leading drug treatment rehabilitation center in Pasadena, we offer state-of-the-art, evidence-based programs for mental health disorders, addiction and dual diagnosis. Please contact us at any time if you or someone you know is suffering with marijuana addiction. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and enroll you in one of our programs.

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