What is Marijuana and Why is it Abused?
Marijuana, a mixture of the dried stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant are one of the most commonly abused drugs in America. Marijuana contains a chemical commonly known as THC, a psychoactive or mind-altering ingredient that produces a high most abusers are looking for.
THC creates a feeling of euphoria among abusers, and based on the strength or potency of the THC is what gives marijuana users different effects.
How Is It Used?
Marijuana is commonly used by smoking loose marijuana rolled into a cigarette or a “joint”. Marijuana can also be smoked in cigars or “blunts” or through pipes and water pipes or “bongs.” Marijuana can also be brewed into a tea or mixed in with foods for a different effect.
How Many Teens Use Marijuana?
According to NIDA’s 2010 Monitoring the Future study, about 8 percent of 8th graders, 17 percent of 10th graders, and 21 percent of 12th graders had used marijuana in the month before the survey. In fact, teen marijuana abuse declined from the late 1990s through 2007, with a decrease in past-year use of more than 20 percent in all three grades combined from 2000 to 2007. Unfortunately, this trend appears to be slowing, and use may even be increasing. Between 2009 and 2010 daily marijuana use increased among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. In 2010, 6 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana daily, compared to 5.2 percent in 2009.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use?
Marijuana affects the dopamine levels in your brain. The THC in marijuana makes the body feel good, “high” or euphoric. However, over time your dopamine levels begin to decrease. This can cause depression and anxiety.
Abusing marijuana can also cause loss of coordination. It can affect memory, judgment, and perception. This can be very dangerous for teens that are learning to drive and can negatively affect a teen’s performance in school.
Since Marijuana can cause impaired judgment many teens while under the influence of marijuana may do things they would not normally do. This can lead to experimentation of other substance, risky sexual behavior which can ultimately lead to sexually transmitted diseases, or driving or riding with someone under the influence of marijuana.
How Does THC Affect Brain Functioning?
Parts of the brain have high concentrations of cannabinoid receptors and the functions that these brain areas control are the ones mainly affected by THC
THC can interfere with learning and memory, which can lead to problems studying, learning new things, and recalling recent events. This can be very dangerous for teens whose brains are still developing.