Adolescence has always been the age of self-discovery, pushing boundaries, and defining one’s own personality, dreams, wishes, and desires. Nowadays, this also means illegal drug consumption. One of the main DOA of choice is cannabis.
Among the 500 chemicals contained in the plant, the relevant one is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), responsible for the “high” feeling. When the plant is smoked, THC enters the bloodstream and ends up in the brain, where its effects can last up to 3 hours. With food or beverages, it takes longer for the effects to become apparent, however, in this case, they last longer – up to several hours even. For regular consumers, the amount of THC needed for a “high” increases the more they consume. This can also result in an ER visit, eventually.
While marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system and stimulates the release of dopamine, it also leads to memory loss, mood and perception changes, behavioural changes, disrupting learning processes and thinking in general. In addition to that, the use of cannabis can almost double the risk of developing schizophrenia – a 40% risk as compared to people who do not use cannabis.
A decline in Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Marijuana can also accelerate the onset of psychosis by 2.7 years in those users who already have a pre-existing mental condition. One study also found evidence of 6 points IQ decline in 38-year-olds who had started using cannabis in adolescence, but not in users who had become regular users later in life. The decline remained apparent even in those who were no longer regular users at the time of the assessment. However, other correlations may also play a part in these results.
Several studies show that cannabis use in teenagers is also related to social and economic background conditions, namely single-parent families, maternal cigarette and cannabis use during pregnancy, truancy, etc.
What are the long-term effects on the brain?
Currently, not nearly enough studies have been conducted to fully assess the long-term impact of regular marijuana consumption on teenage brains. More longitudinal studies and more methods of assessment are needed to properly ascertain, control, and help where help is needed.
Drug testing devices to address teen drug use issues
One easily accessible and affordable detection method in schools and universities is drug testing, by means of drug testing kits. This way, even complicated family situations can be detected and addressed with more consideration and knowledge.
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« Cannabis and a Teenager’s Developing Brain: What You Need to Know - ReachOut Parents ».
Johnson, Julie K. « Elucidating the Impact of Adolescent Marijuana Use ». Journal of Adolescent Health 63, no 2 (Agust 1st, 2018): 129‑30.
Abuse, National Institute on Drug. « Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis) Drug Facts, Effects ». NIDA for Teens, (Agust 3rd, 2012).
Rey, Joseph, Michael Sawyer, Beverley Raphael, George Patton, and Michael Lynskey. « Mental health of teenagers who use cannabis - Results of an Australian survey ». The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science 180 (April 1st, 2002): 216‑21.
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