Millions are abusing marijuana every day. In fact, 1 out of 7 high school students smoke marijuana more than once a day. Marijuana is taken very lightly and is the most highly used illegal drug. For this reason, society should know its short and long term effects on the brain. Marijuana can effect these two areas emotionally or physically. Also in some cases physical damages causes the emotional response. Although most public information on drugs are funded by anti-drug organizations, hopefully we will still learn these true facts of marijuana in spite of that.
The brain is the most complicated part of the human body. I will begin explaining certain parts and their functions. In doing this to I hope to give a better understand of our brain while implicating the possibilities of chemical induced complications The brain with its 15 billion neurons and nerve cells operates using chemical and electrical messages: (Swanson, 1975). 1 This is how we perceive our senses. Differences in the way our brain translates these messages can impair perceptions. Hallucinogens prevent the brain from receiving all of these messages in order.
All of the information that we receive is through millions of transactions of neurons, like a computer, marijuana alters these transactions . After smoking, or consuming marijuana, it is distributed in the brain. The concentration of marijuana in the brain may be governed by an active transport process in the choroid plexus network of blood vessels in the brain which regulates intraventricular pressure by absorption and secretion of cerebro spinal fluid. one scientific experiment it gave an example of how the distribution of marijuana in the central nervous system could effect man.
At a high dose of 30 mg. /kg. rked sedation and pronounced motor incoordination peaked at the one hour interval subsiding in 8 hours when over reaction occurred to external stimuli; man reveals incapacitation of cognitive and motor function. High concentrations of marijuana are usually found in the following parts of the brain: the frontal cortex (the general association area), and hippocampus (short term memory and oreintation). As a result, perception of time, mood and general cordination is impaired. It is apparent that marijuana intoxication effects the neurological functions and usually disappears in 24 hours, but can become a permanent malfunction.
THC effects the limbic system which is vital to some every day functions. The brain is made up of 3 basic cerebral types differing in structure, chemistry and organization (MacLean, 1970). These are: 1) reptilian or brain stem responsible for instinctive (survival) behavior (and regulator of vital functions of the body) 2) old mammalian (paleocortex) or limbic brain surrounding the brain stem (like a lap or limbus) having an important role in emotional behavior and motivation (contains opiate receptors) 3) new mammailian (neo cortex) brain (thinking cap) with the capacity for symbolic (written and spoken language).
The 3 subdivisions of the limbic cortical system or ring are linked by 3 pathways to the brain stem. The lower part (hippocampusi memory information) of the ring connected with the amygdala insures self-presentation (survival). The upper part is connected to the septum which is the area for pleasure. These 2 are connected to the olfactory which deals with sense. In addition, there is a third passageway dealing with sexual behaviors and visual activities. Any limbic dysfunction can result in emotional and mood disturbences alienation distortions of perceptions and paranoid states.
THC can reduce the blood flow to the hippocampus, which earlier I introduced as the controller of short term memory and orientation. To make a simple conclusion to all of this confusing data, marijuana results in chemical damage effecting emotional, motivational and hormonal disturbances. After 3 months of light, moderate and heavy use, evidence of irreversible damage can be detected. The effects of marijuana are mostly short term. When I say short term, I mean damages that can restore to normal. Most symptoms from heavy usage vanish in about a year and a half of clean time.
Although, not ever exactly back to normal relatively emotional and memory abnormalites are restored. The more evident short term effects though leave in about one full month. Since the more severe effects go away in one month one can see the potential for a problem in a weekend smoker. In cases of consistent use, about twice a week or less results in keeping the users of ever really being sober. The brain is one third fat. Cannabinoids are fat soluble and not only do they collect in brain cells, but they also accumulate in billion of other cells in the body and are consistently being released into the blood stream.
In the case of moderate twice a week use, before half of the cannabinoids that are are being stored new cannabinoids are being introduced. The cannabinoid release process is very slow and if there is continued use, it can make the user always stoned. Maybe not all of the effects of intoxication will be evident, but noticeable differences in thinking and talking are evident. It takes marijuana about 2 to 4 weeks to get out of your system. As much as one third of our youth are smoking marijuana 1 to 3 times a week. If these statements are both is true then 1/3 of youth also should have the problem of always being stoned.
Pot not only seems to disrupt normal learning functions but also contains emotion altering properties Marijuana smoking adolescents seen as psychiatric outpatients showed a decrease in attention, logical thinking, personal hygiene, performance in school, and participation in physical and social activities compared with their pre marijuana status. These changes revised when marijuana smoking stopped. Symptoms of cases of always being stoned even if they havent smoked that day at all, can still include: poor social judgment, poor attention span, poor concentration, confusion, anxiety, depression, apathy, passivity and often slow speech.
Some marijuana smokers also suffer from anxiety disorders. The most common among users is social anxiety disorder. Where the user is nervous around large groups of people. Some only can function on one to one basis. Isolation of users is also common. Many people with slight depression can go to the drug to feel better. Marijuana will do that at first then it can intensify the depression. Doing what they have learned what helps they go back to the drug and most likely higher doseages. Resulting in still more depression. One can see how a cycle of using marijuana to cure the depression that can come from it can begin.
One of the biggest controversies in marijuana abuse is are the problems caused by smoking marijuana, or is it just that people with problems are more likely to end up using marijuana heavily? After I just gave the symptomms of the pot personality, I will address this statement with 2 contradictory views. The clearest evidence that pot use causes the pot personality is this, when the subject gives up the drug, the symptoms usually disappear completely in a matter of months. The youngster returns the real problem lies in getting the subject to give up the drug. Dr. Dean Parmelee.
On the other hand, people like John Morgan believe differently. Most people think of marijuana users as dreamers with the attention span of a gnat and no memory worth the name WRONG the picture is emerging from psychology labs is that there is at most a kernel of truth in this stereo type, while some studies find no evidence of even subtle mental impairment in heavy users. And even those that do, are open to a range of interpretations not necessarily worrying to marijuana users. After all it might just be that smart college students tend to smoke lightly while others smoke heavily.
One last finding of many short effects is interference with the maturation process. This mostly deals with young people. Not only does the maturing process stops continuing like it is suppose to, it actually is known to make teens regress to preteen status. Like most information on marijuana, it is practically impossible to give hard facts on how and why these noted symptoms of the usage of marijuana take place. But, most findings conclude that it effects brain functions, including emotions, but can mostly go away after about 3 months. Marijuana has been shown to have long term effects with irreversible damage.
Most damage is due to a chronic smoker who has built a tolerance and a degree of dependency to the drug. Effects physically and mentally are also recorded Tolerance to a drug develops when increasing doses are necessary to obtain the initial effect of a lower dose. Dependence may be psycholgical and/or physical. Psychological dependence refers to a craving for a drug often leading to complusive drug use. Physical or physiological dependence is a state whereby withdrawal of the drug leads to undesirable effects in mood or the physical body.
I will first explain the most common tolerance with THC. Marijuana is used to experience a high and as a person continually introduces this chemical into the body, it grows accustom to it. Hence, in order to get the same high you must smoke more potent marijuana. Cells in the pleasure center of the brain are being damaged and as more are damaged, more marijuana is needed. Also, the natural high is harder to achieve. In regard to dependence and addiction there is still much controversy. Most is on the exact definition, not about marijuana at all.
Is it to need the drug and obtain it by any means? Tolerance? Or simply any mental or physical dependence? The facts are that marijuana is definitely mentally addictive and possibly slightly physically addictive. Marijuana releases dopamine causing pleasure making the user most likely want to feel the same way again. One argument W. Paton, Every day I wake up and eat Kelloggs corn flakes because I like corn flakes. Does that mean I am addicted to corn flakes? Others believe that since it triggers dopamine in the brain it must be addictive.
Long term damages due to marijuana are noted. Marijuana seems to have some irreversible effects, but it is difficult to prove that marijuana was the cause. The thing holding up most scientist is the question of marijuana physically effecting the brain. Many studies show that it does, but most times there are too many uncontrollable factors. Monkeys are usually used and they relate this to humans. Such as in this experiment, after having the monkey smoke marijuana for 5 months, then letting it be clean for 3 months, then see if there is differences.
Abnormalities include (RER) chaos and synaptic vesicles. RER or rough endoplasmic reticulum makes proteins so that the cell can function properly. RER is in neat strands in the cells interior. But, in heavy smoking monkeys there was chaos. Synaptic vesicle activity accounts for our thinking, feeling and doing. Heavy smoking monkeys had synaptic vesicles that were clumped together. The vesticles were also filled with abnormal deposits of material. The conclusion was that this could cause the symptoms of a marijuana abused brain.
Those symptoms are bad short term memory, apathy, lack of motivation and depression. Most findings do conclude after smoking marijuana for periods of time cause them afterwords to be disconnected from social activities and have noticeable differences in memory. But, most surveys or studies dont usually ask the marijuana smoker to be clean for a year. This would probably prove more of the long term effects. It is somewhat disturbing that with all of the new technology, we cannot exactly prove that marijuana has long term effects. Short term effects have been pretty much proven.