Despite its negative effects, marijuana’s popularity continues to soar
Marijuana & THC: What You Need to Know
Marijuana has definitely become more mainstream in the past several years. Not only do people smoke it and use it in water pipes (bongs), but it can be used to brew tea, mixed into foods (edibles), and used in vapor form.
The main chemical that produces the “high” is THC, which is found in the resin produced by the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant.
After alcohol, Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States with 37.6 million users in the past year. While legal in 11 states as of summer 2020 for adults over the age of 21 and approved for medical use in 33 states, research has shown it’s not as harmless as its reputation might indicate.
Marijuana use directly affects several key brain sectors including the ones responsible for coordination, decision making, emotions, learning, and reaction time. Those who use marijuana heavily can have short-term issues with attention span, recall, and the absorption of information, not to mention mood changes.
For babies, children, and teenagers with brains still developing, the harmful effects of marijuana may be linked to problems with problem-solving, memory, attention span, and behavior problems in the future.
How It Works
The chemical structure of THC found in marijuana is similar to the brain’s own chemical anandamide. This similarity allows the body to recognize THC and alter normal brain communication that influences pleasure, memory, concentration, and coordination, to name a few.
As a result, THC has the capability of attaching to neurons and activating them in the brain. The one that probably appeals to most users is the kickstart of the brain’s reward system, which produces the pleasurable feelings that marijuana users seek.
Proven to be quite the multitasker, THC also affects the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, areas of the brain that enable people to form new memories and shift their focus. It also disrupts the function of the cerebellum and basal ganglia, which regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time.
The Stats on Marijuana/THC:
- During the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, retail marijuana sales increased by 159% in California, 100% in the state of Washington, and 46% in Colorado.
- In 2019, 43% of college students consumed marijuana, the highest figure since 1983.
- The largest demographic of current marijuana smokers in the United States in 2019 was 18 to 29-year-olds. Seniors were the least likely, with only 3% stating that they were current smokers.
- Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.
- While there’s been a decline in alcohol, cigarette, and prescription opioid misuse by teenagers in 2019, vaping of marijuana has more than doubled in the past two years.
- In the annual Monitoring the Future survey for 2019, daily marijuana vaping, which was reported at 3.5% among 12th graders, 3.0% among 10th graders, and 0.8% among eighth graders.
- In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults said they used marijuana in the past year.
- One in seven US adults used marijuana in 2017 with smoking being the preferred method.
- 22% of pregnant women under the age of 18 tested positive for marijuana use in 2016, while 19% were ages 18 to 24.
Effects of Marijuana/THC:
- Impairment of judgment, memory, motor coordination, and reaction time
- Impaired driving ability
- Poorer educational outcomes than non-smoking peers
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Increased risk of injury at work
- Damage to lung tissues
- Scarring and damage to blood vessels
- Greater risk of bronchitis
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of stroke and heart disease
- Breathing issues
- Intense nausea and vomiting
Help for Marijuana/THC Addiction:
If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana addiction, we’re here for you. Dr. Claudia Black, the clinical architect of our treatment program, has decades of experience working with family systems and addictive disorders. Her leadership and our entire team’s professional, compassionate approach have helped many young adults find freedom, hope, and a healthy path forward.
“Marijuana use directly affects several key brain sectors including the ones responsible for coordination, decision making, emotions, learning, and reaction time. Those who use marijuana heavily can have short-term issues with attention span, recall, and the absorption of information, not to mention mood changes.”
Our experienced, compassionate Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. Let our specialists help you create a road map to get you where you want to go: a healthier, more balanced, fulfilling place in life. When you call, you’ll be led through a series of questions to determine if the Claudia Black Young Adult Center is the right fit for your needs, and how soon your treatment can begin.
If you are interested in treatment for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out our convenient Admissions form!
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