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Study: Younger Users of Marijuana at Higher Risk of Brain Damage

by | Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Latest News, Research

Home Addiction Study: Younger Users of Marijuana at Higher Risk of Brain Damage

Proponents of marijuana legalization often cite the studies that show that marijuana is not physically addictive and therefore not dangerous. Many young people hear this, and see marijuana as the safest drug to use. Marijuana is generally one of the first drugs that adolescents experiment with, as a result of its availability, perceived harmlessness, and euphoric high. The marijuana culture is growing, and the love, peace, and fellowship created by marijuana use is appealing to many young people. However, marijuana has been proven to put younger users at a higher risk of brain damage.
Marijuana Addiction
Although marijuana is not addictive from a physical standpoint, addiction still may develop. As a widely and frequently used substance, marijuana often creates a psychological dependence. Frequent marijuana users are defined by their habit. They must get high before participating in any normal activity, such as school, work, hobbies, or social situations. This causes the user to stop emotionally developing as they are allowed a freedom from their feelings with the drug, and do not learn how to deal with their emotions. This escape from reality creates a desire in the user to continue being high, as dealing with emotions seems difficult compared to escaping from them. The common misconception that marijuana is harmless drives users to believe that they are doing nothing wrong when developing a marijuana habit.
Dangers of Marijuana Abuse
Contrary to what habitual marijuana users may believe, marijuana has many negative side effects. The most obvious effects of marijuana are lack of motivation, disinterest in formerly interesting activities, and loss of memory and attention span. Chronic marijuana use causes irreversible damage to brain function, most commonly seen with regards to short term memory. Several studies have showed a correlation between chronic marijuana abuse and psychosis, anxiety, and depression. Although not a direct result of marijuana use on health, marijuana indirectly may cause an unhealthy lifestyle, through laziness, increased appetite, and lack of exercise.
There are also side effects of marijuana abuse that are neither physical nor psychological. Chronic marijuana use may result in poor grades in school or the loss of a job. According to a study of fatal car accidents, twice as many drivers had marijuana in their system than a random sample of accident-free drivers. A French study found that about seven percent of drivers in fatal car accidents in France tested positive for marijuana. All these risks may be scary, but the scariest part is that teenagers are more susceptible to damage than adults.
Younger Users of Marijuana at a Higher Risk of Brain Damage
Recent studies have shown that young users of marijuana run the risk of permanently damaging their brain. As a young person’s brain is developing, marijuana use prevents the brain from developing at the normal rate. A study testing teenagers showed that the younger marijuana users start, the more risk they have of damaging their brain function and preventing proper development. The study also showed that psychomotor function declined as age of use did, as did the users’ ability to plan and organize. Alarmingly, users who started smoking marijuana when they were younger than sixteen smoked on average three times more each week than those who started after sixteen. The studies proved several things. First, they showed that younger users are far more likely to develop permanent damage to their brain. Second, they proved that younger marijuana users are more likely to smoke more. Finally, they proved that overall, marijuana is very dangerous to teenagers.