Your Teen’s Brain and Marijuana

Currently, more than half of the states in America legally allow the use of Marijuana in some form. The medical community has embraced the many benefits it can assist with alleviating pain and/or reducing disease in the body. Additionally, research has shown that in adults, marijuana can be helpful to the brain. However, when it comes to your teen’s brain and marijuana, the results may show differently.

The Teen Formula Book
The Teen Formula Book

Medical or Merry Marijuana?

Whatever your stance on marijuana use, the fact is that it’s available legally and illegally. According to Governing.com, “Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.” And, as per an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States.”

So, whether it’s for medicinal or recreational purposes, there’s clearly a demand.

Regardless, it’s been widely recognized that marijuana may be an effective treatment for symptoms of various medical conditions. Some of them are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Nausea from chemotherapy drugs
  • Loss of appetite (improve appetite in patients with AIDS or anorexia nervosa)
  • Inflammation (reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s, and many other diseases)
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Your Adult Brain and Cannabinoids

Aside benefitting symptoms of clinical conditions, marijuana has also been proven to have neuroprotective agencies. Cannabinoids actually create new brain cell production and growth.

As we age, neurogenesis (the process of growing new brain cells) slows down. Some results of poor adult neurogenesis are: anxiety, stress, and depression. Marijuana aids in the growth of new cells in the hippocampus. This may be one reason why it has shown to be successful in treating particular mood disorders. 

The THC in marijuana has revealed to be a powerful antioxidant for the brain. Because of its neuroprotective properties, it can help clean away brain plaque. The build up of beta-amyloid plaque is one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Along with Alzheimer’s, other neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s can also benefit from cannabis treatment.

Research has shown that marijuana also aids in attacking cancer cells. Conversely, it does not harm the healthy cells. Studies have provided evidence that cannabis may reduce tumors in the brain. Along with utilizing other therapies, marijuana treatment may halt or reverse the progression of some cancers.

Say NO to Brain Trauma and Sports

Most of the research and statistics compiled in regards to the benefits of your brain and marijuana is comprised mainly of adults. Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not react the same as we’ve discussed thus far. On the other hand, it may, but there isn’t nearly enough research or credibility to prove that it does. So, keep in mind, in this section we are sourcing cases solely involving adults.

Henceforth, laboratory studies have shown that cannabis may protect the brain from trauma. Research shows that damage to the brain from a force, a blow, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even stroke may be reduced due to marijuana use. Most importantly, cannabis helps reduce inflammation.

A concussion is trauma to the brain. As we are aware, many athletes are in danger of, or prone to, getting concussions. The antioxidants in cannabis plants can provide protection from neural inflammation. (And a concussion encompasses inflammation of the brain.) There are researchers who believe that certain properties of marijuana may assist in the brain recovering and repairing itself. The CBD in the marijuana may even be helpful—proactively!

CHECK THIS OUT: Evidently, the U.S. government currently has a patent on a non-psychoactive CBD. The intent would be to utilize it as a neuroprotective element—one that would limit brain damage after an accident involving head trauma. That’s a pretty cool bet on the healing properties of marijuana.

A Teen’s Brain and Marijuana is a Complicated Issue

For as much research and speculation, it is still not absolute that marijuana kills brain cells. In fact, as we learned for adults, cannabis helps create new ones. But, with teens the picture is different. The main reason is because the adolescent and teen brain is not fully developed. Most noteworthy, the rational part of the brain isn’t often developed until the age of 25.

The actual use of marijuana may or may not have any detrimental disturbances to the brain directly. Although, more research points to the concern that cannabis may affect the teen brain negatively. Brain-imaging studies sway experts towards the principle that “the teen’s brain and marijuana are not a positive combination.” 

Naturally, our nerve cells manufacture cannabinoids, from birth. These cannabinoids play a huge part in how the brain regulates our everyday habits such as: sleeping, eating, remembering, moving around, and our emotions.

When “outside” cannabis is introduced into the still-developing brain, it can create significant changes in those everyday habits. This is worrisome for medical experts because the brain can become wired in an unbalanced fashion in regards to those processes. This doesn’t look like a plus for marijuana teen use.

More Complications for Teens, Including Safety and Learning

It’s the young brain’s inability to make rational decisions that causes the most immediate danger. The prominent negative effects of short-term marijuana use by teens are:

  • impaired coordination (driving accidents, risk of increased injuries)
  • impaired short-term memory (prohibits learning and retaining new information)
  • practice of poor judgment (risk-taking behavior: unprotected sex, reckless driving, illegal activity, pushing the limits)

Part of the brain’s development during the teen years is the strengthening of executive function. One such function would be emotional self-control. Marijuana use may impede this strengthening process. Thus, the youngster may not develop this self-control mechanism as nature intended.

Aside from safety concerns, marijuana-use may plague learning. When under the influence of marijuana, there may be a heightened sense of creativity and flow. That’s terrific. However, it’s been proven that additionally, attention, learning, and memory become impaired. That’s not so fantastic.

It’s tough to build brainpower when the mind is still developing and besieged by a mind-altering substance.

A Teen’s Future…

Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not impact his/her future in a negative way. There are numerous studies that show very-little to no-changes in the brain later in life. And, there are many adults who can attest to having smoked pot as a teen and seem none-the-worse today for having partaken.

However, some of the studies that show negative long-term effects of young-age, marijuana-use are based on heavy, habitual use, starting as adolescents into adulthood. Those are real and can be serious. Some of those effects include:

  • addiction to marijuana or other substances
  • diminished lifetime achievements
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • chronic bronchitis

The brain is a phenomenally interesting and complex organ. It guides our body from head to toe. Its processes are affected by thousands of neurons, nerves, thoughts, cells, chemicals, and countless other elements. The bottom line is, “How much do you respect your brain?”

For adults with any semblance of gratitude for life, we bow up to the brain. And according to most sources, marijuana is not directly hurting this precious organ. So, using cannabis or not, as an adult, is a personal choice. But, when it comes to teens, their brains don’t have the ability yet to help them make the most appropriate choices. It has to be up to the adults to teach the young the facts. No one said it would be easy…

Check into Get Thrive when you’re looking for guidance or tips on best health for your family. Also, if this article resonates with you, you may want to  have a look at Dr. Campbell’s best selling book, The Teen Formula: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child Avoid Substance Abuse HERE available in paperback or on Kindle.

Thank you for joining us today!

 

Sources:

https://herb.co/marijuana/news/7-ways-cannabis-great-brain

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/marijuana-addiction/marijuana-and-concussions/#gref

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-pot-really-does-to-the-teen-brain/

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827335/

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051

Is Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention Realistic?

In today’s world, substance abuse is rampant, especially amongst teens. Anyone can access drugs. It’s almost impossible to avoid them. However, experts believe that parents have a great role in the path of their teen’s habits. So, yes, it is realistic to believe that teenage substance abuse prevention practices may be effective.

Where Do We Start for Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention? 

Research has shown that prevention may start with parents who stay involved. They often incorporate positive parenting tips.

During adolescent and teen years, parents are encouraged to keep open communication with their children. In this manner, adults are more likely to help prevent their kids from falling prey to substance addiction.

With that said, there are other vital tips. Some parents may find them useful during these unsure times.

1.    Set Proper Guidelines

As a parent, you have many responsibilities. One to is to set clear and firm guidelines. These will help your teen identify the best direction. Let your child know your expectations . This will aid them to stay focused. And, hopefully avoid peer pressure.

2.    Remain Involved

It’s brutally common how parents neglect their kids unwittingly. This can be due to outside work or other family commitments. This could be very dangerous for kid who has just entered his teens.

A lack of direction and attention can lead a youngster astray. Teenage substance abuse prevention begins with listening and giving attention.

 Therefore, it is recommended that parents monitor their teens’ activities and behaviors.

Keep the lines of communication open. Nurture trust so that they may share their concerns with you. Also, it is important to make sure that you are aware of where your teen is at all times.

3.    Use Positivity

The world our kids live in is different from what experienced. It’s tough, but we have to wrap our brains around that.

Instead of comparing your teen’s performance to others, try this instead. Use positivity whenever possible to motivate. Remind them of the fine choices they make. Then, use positive reinforcements. Help your child gravitate towards “good” company and healthy activities.

4.    Talk About it

At the same time, it’s also important to make sure your teen is aware of all the consequences associated with substance abuse. 

Unfortunately, many adolescents are blind to the dangers of addiction. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re adopting bad habits.

Additionally, adolescents often feel immune to poor results. Consequently, they don’t realize until after addiction has set in. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to inform your child about all the imminent harms of drug use.

5.    Keep the Environment Healthy

Oftentimes, children whose parents suffer from addiction are more likely to become addicts. Moreover, it’s no surprise that if the environment at home is stressful, the teenager will be more stressed. He/she may be more inclined towards adopting negative “coping” habits.

Thus, as a parent, try to keep the home environment welcoming. Reduce as much stress as possible. The child will be more apt to feel satisfied. Hopefully, this will help avoid looking for self-destructive solutions.

In conclusion…

The role of the parent is significant when it comes to teenage substance abuse prevention. Positive parenting includes: listening to your child, keeping open communication, and staying involved. These may help deter your teen from gravitating towards drug use.

For other up-to-date tips on keeping you and your family healthy, check out Get Thrive! If you like our articles, be sure to sign up for our Newsletter too!

Here are a few articles you may also appreciate:

https://getthrive.com/complete-guide-main-parenting-styles/

https://getthrive.com/raising-entitled-child-without-knowing/

https://getthrive.com/parent-quiz-know-teen/

Thank you for joining the Get Thrive family!

 

Teenage Substance Abuse Prevention

In today’s world, substance abuse is a common problem prevalent amongst teens. This can be explained by understanding how easy it is to access illegal drugs today. However, experts believe that parents have a great role in determining the fate of their teen’s life. Parents that remain involved and incorporate positive parenting tips during this phase are more likely to prevent their kids from falling prey to substance addiction. In this article, we will be discussing some vital tips that parents can use when they find their children reaching adolescence and being exposed to uncertain environments.

1.     Set Proper Guidelines

As a parent, it is your responsibility to set clear and firm guidelines that will help your teen identify the right direction. Make sure that you let your child know what expectations you hold. This will help them stay focused and avoid peer pressure.

2.     Remain Involved

There is no question that it has become brutally common how one or both of the parent conveniently neglect their kids because of work or other professional commitments and whatnot. And this could be very dangerous for kid who just entered his teens. A lack of direction can eventually lead to a substance abuse problem.

It is therefore strongly recommended that parents keep monitoring their teen’s activities and behaviors. Keep the lines of communication open and act like a friend to them so that they can share their concerns with you. Also, it is important to make sure that you are aware of where your teen is at all times.

3.     Use Positivity

Too many parents have the habit of comparing their children’s performance with that of their own. It is essential to understand that the world that they live in is different from what it was earlier.

Hence, instead of comparing your teen’s performance to others, it is effective to use positivity whenever you can to motivate them. The use of positive reinforcements will make your child more likely to gravitate towards good company and activities.

4.     Talk About it

At the same time, it is also important that you make sure that your teen is aware of all the consequences associated with substance abuse.

There are many adolescents that are unaware of the dangerous results of adopting these habits and get to know them only after they have become addicted to them. As a parent, it is your responsibility to inform your child about all the harms and trust that they will make the right decision.

5.     Keeping the Environment Healthy

It has been seen that children whose parents suffer from addiction themselves are more likely to adopt such habits.

Moreover, it is no surprise to know that if the environment at home is stressing the teen out they will be more inclined towards adopting such habits. Thus, as a parent, make sure that you keep the home environment as welcoming and less stressful as possible. Having such an environment will reduce the dissatisfaction that your child feels in life and will eliminate any need to look for other solutions.

Bottom Line

The role of the parents is significant when it comes to preventing substance abuse in teens. This is why parents should always make sure that they are aware of what is going on in their child’s life and practice positive parenting.

To learn more about teens, substance abuse and addiction, check out GetThrive.com

Parent Quiz: Do You Know What Your Teen is Up To?

Many of us would like to think we know what our teen is doing. Even using the barometer of “I was a teenager once” may help us to better understand their behaviors and actions. But, still, … these are different times.

What our kids are up to may surprise us, even if we feel informed. Check out the Parent Quiz below. See the Answer Key afterwards to see how you ranked and for explanations and details.

 

Questions:

 

1.) The Rational Part of the Brain Isn’t Fully Developed Until…

a) a person turns 18

b) a person turns around 25

c) a student gets a high score on the SATs

 

2.) Teenagers Drive More Recklessly When They Are…

a) with a parent

b) with a peerc) alone

c) alone

 

3.) On the Subject of Marijuana…

a) Over 35% of high school students report having used it at least once

b) Over 100 deaths a year are attributed to marijuana overdose

c) It can have permanent effects on the developing brain, especially with heavy or regular use

 

4.) On the Subject of Alcohol…

a) By 18, around 60% of teens have had at least 1 drink

b) More adolescents use alcohol than cigarettes or marijuana

c) Over 5 million adolescents reported binge drinking at least once in the past month.

 

5.) On the Subject of Sex…

a) Over 40% of high school students have engaged in sexual relations

b) About 15% of teens having sex do not use condoms or birth control

c) Almost 10 million new STD cases reported each year are among youngsters between the ages of 15 to 24.

 

Answers:

1.) The answer is b; the rational part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) isn’t fully developed until people are in their mid-20s. Teens often respond to situations with the amygdala (the emotional, primitive part of the brain). It’s for this reason that teenagers can often be impulsive and seemingly act reckless. They don’t yet have the capability to respond with the best judgment. Often, they are unable to understand long-term consequences.

2.) Because the prefrontal cortex of the brain is not fully developed, a teenager does not have the “adult” capacity to self-regulate. Additionally, adolescents are greatly motivated by peer influence. A teenager is more likely to drive recklessly when he/she has another peer in the vehicle. They often engage in risky behavior because they do not want to feel excluded by their peers. (It’s emotionally based.) The answer is b.

3.) If you answered a and c, you are correct. The CDC reports that 38% of high schoolers have tried or use marijuana. And yes, abusing the drug can increase risk of negative effects on the developing brain. However, there are no reported deaths attributed directly to marijuana; it is almost impossible to overdose from it.  (There have been reports where accidents have been cause by marijuana use, but in and of itself, it is not deadly.)

4.) All answers a, b, and c are correct. According to the National Institutes of Health, teenage alcohol use is rampant. Accidents are the number one cause of teenage death; alcohol and/or drugs are often a contributing factor to the unintentional deaths. (Binge drinking, by the way, entails 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more for females within a few hours.)

5.) Again, if you guessed answers a, b, and c, you would be correct. The CDC conducted a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance in 2015 amongst adolescents, teens, and young adults. The figures are staggering when it comes to the amount of unsafe sexual activity that is occurring. About half of all teens between the ages of 15 and 19 reported that they have participated in oral sex, most without protection from STDs.

 

While some of these questions and their respective answers do not come as a surprise to some parents, to others, it can be dumbfounding. We cannot be with our teenagers 24/7, nor do any of us want it that way. It’s for this reason that it’s essential you and your adolescent try and maintain an open line of communication.

Listening and trust will be the pillars of your ability to stay connected with your teen. As a parent, it’s our job to impart important information. How that is handled will define how your child receives it. You and your family’s position on the addressed topic will, no doubt, have certain rules or belief systems. Regardless, it will help to keep in mind that your teen’s brain may yet be incapable of self-monitoring, rationalizing, and emotional impulse control.

Information, care, guidance, and a mature perspective may be the optimal service we can offer to our teens to keep them safe and flourish into responsible, healthy adults. No one said raising teens was going to be easy!

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-wide-wide-world-psychology/201506/why-are-teen-brains-designed-risk-taking

Chein, J., Albert, D., O’Brien, L., Uckert, K., & Steinberg, L. (2011). Peers increase adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brain’s reward circuitry. Developmental Science, 14, F1-F10.

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/underagedrinking/underagefact.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/marijuana-teens-508.pdf

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051

http://www.livestrong.com/article/1003934-leading-causes-death-us-among-teens/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/