Teenage Marijuana Use: Effects on the Brain

Effects of Teenage Marijuana Use on the Brain

“Decision making, concentration, and memory can suffer for days after use, especially in regular users.” (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana)

In the United States, believe it or not, marijuana is the most prevalent illicit drug used by teens and adults. The nation’s youth has caught on to a contagion, believing that marijuana is a safe drug, alluding to medical marijuana and the public debate over the drug’s pending legal status. However, long-term, consistent use of marijuana in teens throughout critical, developmental phases of life may disrupt brain development and lower IQ. Can this teenage thrill threaten the brain from achieving its full potential?

Effects on the Brain

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the predominant chemical in marijuana that affects the brain. Learning and memory, as well as coordination and judgment, can be disrupted with continuous usage. Cannabinoid receptors are located in parts of the brain that influence memory, concentration, pleasure, coordinated movement and sensory and time perception.

Balance and centering can be difficult to achieve when an individual uses marijuana, persistently. Additional effects include shifts in perception and mood, and increased difficulty with thinking and problem solving.

Effects on the Body

Not only is the brain directly affected by usage of this popular substance, but the body is also at risk and faces these effects:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Respiratory problems
  • Increased risk for mental health problems
  • Increased risk of problems for an unborn baby (if user is pregnant)
  • Declining school performance
  • Impaired driving
  • Possible gateway to other drugs


Treatment for Teenage Marijuana Abuse

In a national report conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 9.2% of all adolescents in 2012–2013 reported using illicit drugs within the month prior to being surveyed. On their website, SAMHSA offers a list of state agencies that are certified in illicit drug abuse treatment services. The tree may be trending in the teenage population, still, the treatment is tempting to those who suffer from the social and home life struggles brought on by the side effects.

At AMHC, our trained professionals are here to help.

NIDA for Teens
Behavioral Health Barometer
Behavioral Health Treatment Services