Marijuana and Its Effects on Teenagers

And the effects of marijuana, especially on the vital brains of teens, do something quite sinister. It surreptitiously sucks the ‘big deal’ out of life and replaces it with mere existence. Now a number of baby boomer parents have warm associations with this drug.

Marijuana was the general drug of choice for the hippy generation and many of us have brushed up against it at one time or another. For the young people of the 60’s and 70’s marijuana was a way to thumb our noses at the oppressive authorities. It was an anti-establishment statement. For many of todays parents the fascination with pot faded with the dynamics of political change over time. Now all we remember is that pot was something you smoked while declaring ‘peace, love and understanding’ and holding anti-war placards. It is hard for some of us to get all riled up about it. So back to the sinister nature of marijuana and its life robbing properties. There it is, still holding its own among today’s teens with too many parents somewhat ambivalent about it. Is it really so bad? They wonder.

Travis comes home with giant pupils and he’s not too stoned to hear the lack of commitment in his mother’s voice. He is a teenager; he is blessed with an uncanny ability to take the gap. It is hard for teens to take marijuana seriously when great swathes of the adult population are in two minds about it. But mind is the operative word. Marijuana is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Masquerading as the not too serious drug for cautious drug users it sneaks in and robs our young people of their initiative, memories and perceptions. It’s not that Marijuana is not dangerous its just that its effects are subtle. Subtle, like brain functioning. Marijuana contains an active ingredient called Tetrahydrocannabinol known as THC.

THC heads straight for the brain of the user. There, in this fragile yet powerful neural landscape, it wreaks havoc. But not so you can see it. Not like cocaine of heroin. What THC does is ultimately alter the way the brain functions in the all-important areas of perception, memory, attention and learning. It is true that these effects only become noticeable after chronic usage over time but this is another reason why marijuana addiction in teens is hard to deal with. The ill effects are not immediately obvious. Marijuana is also tremendously seductive, the kind of friendly grandmother of the drug world. It is still considered the trip that most teens and people their parents age consider to be the least risky. The name Bob Meehan, founder of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, is legendary among drug users trying to get clean and their longsuffering parents. He has this to say about marijuana: “It changes the user’s mind and his actions without even letting him know it”.

Bob Meehan claims he would rather treat a heroin addict than a heavy dope smoker. “In rehabilitation, I take the drugs away, but the distorted thinking processes remain. I have to teach young marijuana addicts to think again. It takes six hours of group therapy a day for weeks on end, challenging their minds, stimulating their thought processes, making them reason until it hurts; that’s the only way that I know to bring them back.” So things are not as they seem and Marijuana is not just a gateway drug but also simply bad for our teens in and of itself.

Stuart is a troubled teen with a largely absent and dysfunctional family. He has sought solace in the arms of his mistress, marijuana, for all the years I’ve known him. His big brother introduced him to it when he was eleven years old. Stuart smokes daily, and nightly too. Stuart uses marijuana to dull the pain of living and also to give him something to do. I have had the pleasure of speaking to Stuart in a sober state on very rare occasions. When he is not stoned Stuart is a bright, intelligent human being. The sad thing about Stuart is he is stoned more often than he is sober and his perceptions and life itself now rarely interface. He is gentle to the point of unresponsive and completely incapable of acting on his own behalf.

Passivity has become Stuart’s default position. Stuart will never hurt anyone or rob a bank but he’ll also never act to save himself. He has forgotten how to. So the thing is, if robbing souls is a crime, then marijuana has a lot to answer for. Don’t be fooled by its tame, unassuming air. Dope kills by taking away life and leaving just the husk of a human going through the motions. It’s not worth the risk.

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