Marijuana has certainly been in the news! Most headlines contain the words “medical marijuana”, “hydroponically grown”, “legalization”, “cannabis club”, or release the latest name of a famous public figure that has admitted to using pot for recreational or medical purposes.
Although marijuana has physical effects, it’s the mental effects that have caused it to be the most used, illicit psychoactive drug in the world.
Recent reports indicate marijuana use has more than doubled in the past decade. Although it’s often portrayed as harmless, and sometimes even therapeutic, marijuana causes significant brain changes by slowing activity in the frontal and temporal lobes. Why is that to be of any real concern? Because these are the areas of the brain involved with:
- Mood stability
Human beings have 100 billion cells that make up the central nervous system which help the brain communicate with the outside world. Marijuana effects the neurotransmitters (messengers) ability to communicate with one another and thereby send and receive mixed messages in the centers of the brain (temporal lobe, frontal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus) that store and/or effect:
- Decision Making
- Learning from mistakes
Anything that makes a person feel good—be it food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, gambling, or sex, etc. —causes a rewiring of the pleasure centers in the brain and intensifies cravings for it. Addiction then, means anything that impedes or impairs your life, your emotions, and your ability to make or adapt to change. Damage to these areas of your brain have a tremendous impact not only in the “now” of when you are using marijuana, but on your future cognitive and physical abilities.
When it comes to addiction, you need to think about your children’s future as much as your own since it comes with a generational toll. Your brain does not complete its development until the age of 25 years.
New evidence suggests that teenagers who smoke marijuana may be affecting themselves and their future children. Not only that, but research is showing that if you begin using at 15 years of age or earlier, your brain development is being hijacked. In other words, if you begin using at 15 years of age and decide to stop at age 25 years, your brain reacts as an adult at the point in which it damaged. So, 25 years old or not, your brain computes your decisions and behaviors as 15 years old.
As an adult, these areas of your life, although not limited to, can have consequences in how you respond and/or react to circumstances:
- Anger Management
- Emotional Control
- Divorce Reasoning
- Ability to Adapt to Change
- Impulsive Decisions
- Rational Thought Processes
Another study shows that offspring of parents who were addicted to drugs or alcohol are twice as likely to be depressed in adulthood as compared to their peers whose parents were not addicted. Parents need to understand the importance of supervision when it comes to experimentation with drugs. Depending upon the substance, brain development can be permanently delayed.
Most young adults start developing personal and life goals, such as going to college or pursuing a career, by age 14. That’s why it’s important to be more involved in the decisions your children are beginning to make, and recognize as well, where some of your decisions were affected if you used drugs yourself in your early adolescence.
So, what’s the big deal, in relation to just a little pot experimentation? You decide if the risk outweighs the consequences. Addiction happens quickly and does not discriminate in users.
Recovery and rehabilitation is a process and has consequences involved in withdrawal:
- Inability to Concentrate
- Sleep Disturbances
- And more craving for the drug
Breaking the pattern of marijuana dependency can be difficult and may involve entering a drug recovery program, going to counseling, and/or participating in a 12 steps group.
To further assess your recovery needs, call 678) 920-2608 for an appointment.