In the modern world, Cannabis abuse (Marijuana or weed usage) is common among teens and adolescents. Marijuana is a widely used illicit drug in the United States, but the term illicit does not apply to it much longer because Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and other states have legalized the use of Marijuana for medical purposes since 1996. 

A new study suggests that weed usage may have negative impacts on teens’ cognitive development when compared to alcohol usage. They found that the regular use of cannabis may cause long-lasting effects on their brain. According to the national survey of drug use and health, it has been estimated that around 43.5 million individuals have been addicted to weed usage

  • 3.1 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 (about 1 in 8) smoked marijuana.
  • 11.8 million young individuals aged 18 to 25 (about one-third) smoked marijuana.
  • 14 percent of 8th graders have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives.
  • 33 percent of 10th graders have smoked marijuana in their lifetime.
  • 22 percent of 12th graders had smoked marijuana.
  • 6 percent of 12th graders (about 1 in 16) used Marijuana on a daily basis.

Effects of Weed Usage

When a person consumes weed, the main psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), travels through the lungs (smoking) or the digestive system (via edibles) into the bloodstream. THC travels via the blood to the brain, where it activates particular cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are mostly located in brain regions linked with attention, thinking, sensory and temporal perception, pleasure, memory, and coordination.  

THC causes over-activation of these regions, which results in the “high” that people experience.  Weed usage can impair abilities including concentration, memory, and learning, and the effects might linger for many days after the high has worn off. Unfortunately,  weed usage can have far-reaching long-term consequences for teens. 

The adolescent brain is still developing, the neurodevelopment will continue its growth until at least the early to mid-20s. The brain is more susceptible to drug exposure throughout adolescence, and weed usage affects how connections grow inside the brain. 

Interference with neurotransmitters and aberrant brain shape and structural volume are the impacts on the growing brain. When teenagers reach early adolescence, the outer layers of the brain begin to thin. The researcher also claims that when synapses are removed, the brain appears to make a place for new connections, basically becoming more efficient. 

This “cortical thinning” process is a natural component of brain growth, but if it occurs too quickly, it is unknown what would be the result. On the other hand, long-term weed usage has been proven to decrease social behavior, cause memory difficulties, and also reduce motivation. 

According to researchers, adolescence is a critical period for brain development that should not be messed with. Although there are numerous treatments for adults, it’s hard for teens to attend such treatments. Hence, allowing the teenager to remain in school, that is inpatient therapy, may be more beneficial for certain teens. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a crucial technique for identifying and changing your teen’s attitudes and behaviors connected to substance addiction and other co-occurring issues, will most likely be used in treatment.