How Does Marijuana Affect the Adolescent Brain?

Boy addicted to marijuanaThere are many ways to smoke marijuana, which make it very difficult for parents to detect. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reminds us of several methods that teens may use to smoke marijuana, such as: smoking through a rolled cigarette or bong, vaping (smoking through an electronic cigarette), eating “edible” goods, drinking beverages with marijuana products in them and using oils that can be applied to the skin. According to Very Well Mind, 53% of adolescents report using marijuana for the first time between the ages of 12 and 17.

While most adolescents believe that marijuana causes little harm, addiction is never a healthy outcome and there are significant effects that marijuana can have on the adolescent brain, especially as it is still developing. A 2015 review published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design emphasized that teens who use marijuana exhibit “disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, macrostructural and microstructural brain development, and alterations in brain functioning.”

What does this mean? It means that marijuana can make it more difficult for adolescents in the realms of attention and learning, impulse control and executive functioning. During adolescence, the brain is developing executive functioning, such as emotional self-control. The brain already has cannabinoids, which is what cannabis clings to when consumed – but rather than improving functioning, adolescents will likely find that disrupts processes such as memory, sleeping, eating and movement. The Scientific American argues that it’s these very changes that are concerning – especially to a brain that is still in its developing stage.

If you think your teen may be abusing marijuana, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Having trouble at school
  • Coming home with red eyes
  • Acting very silly for no particular reason
  • Spending a lot of time with friends who use marijuana
  • And more

If your teen is ready to begin their journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. The sooner they seek help, the better their chances of preventing future addiction.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.