How marijuana really affects the teenage brain

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The popularity of marijuana is soaring among our youth and teens are under the impression marijuana is of no danger to them. The effects of marijuana on an adult mind and a teenage mind differ drastically. As our youth are still developing it is important to know and inform our teens how marijuana will affect them.

Marijuana and the teenage brain

One of the most crucial ingredients found in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC. Like any drug marijuana’s THC can have serious effects on the developing mind. When smoked this ingredient attaches itself to receptors in the brain called cannabinoid receptors.  These cells or neurons are a part of a network within the brain that communicates normal brain functions and brain development.

Most of these receptors control important daily brain functions that are necessary in a teens’ growth. THC impacts the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, coordinated movement and even time perception. Long term or regular marijuana use beginning in the teenage years can seriously impair brain development.

How Marijuana affects the brain

Coordination:  THC impairs both the cerebellum and basal ganglia parts of our brain. These areas control balance, coordination and movement control and with the influence of THC cause a delay in communication with the brain and the rest of the body.

Judgment: Marijuana also affects the frontal cortex which controls the brain’s ability to make decisions. While under the influence teens may engage in what they normally acknowledge as risky behavior, thinking this is a normal and perfectly acceptable thing to do.

Learning and memory: Allowing THC to disrupt normal brain function has been shown to cause a decrease in IQ. THC also affects the hippocampus which plays a vital role in concentration, thinking and memory.

Other effects of marijuana

Extensive marijuana abuse has also been linked with mental disorders such as schizophrenia, especially teens with a known family history of this disorder. Some teens display depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.  Marijuana use can also lead to teens developing other types of psychosis and mental disorders.

Source: NIDA for Teens


About Karen Corcoran-Walsh

Karen Corcoran-Walsh, CAP, ICADC, MFT, ASAM is nationally known as an expert in the treatment of mental health and drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, also known as Dual Diagnosis, with a specialty in working with teenagers. Renowned as an adolescent addiction treatment center professional, she has worked in the professions of education and drug treatment for approximately 20 years. Karen is the co-founder of Inspirations For Youth And Families, LLC an adolescent treatment program and The Cove Center For Recovery, LLC an adult addiction treatment center.

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