Here's Why Teens Should Stay Away From Marijuana

Some teens may believe that smoking marijuana is harmless, but it can leave long-lasting negative effects on their brains. 

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Marijuana is becoming legal in more and more states, which may lead some teens to believe that it’s perfectly safe for them to use. The truth is that teenagers who smoke weed are actually taking a huge risk. The teen brain is still developing which means introducing mind-altering drugs into the body can have long-term effects on the brain. New research shows that recreational use of the marijuana can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany found recreational marijuana use can be linked to mental health problems, such as psychotic symptoms, panic attacks, and impaired concentration. Delusions that occur as a result of smoking weed can last for up to a week. They also found that smoking marijuana can cause swelling in the mouth, vomiting, excessively fast heartbeats, and irritation of the respiratory system.

All marijuana users can be susceptible to these effects, but adolescents are especially at risk. If that isn’t bad enough, smoking marijuana as a teenager can lead to a lower IQ, lower grades, and lower satisfaction with life. It may negatively impact the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance and coordination, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. This could lead to poor performance in sports, driving, and video games.

Smoking weed can also cause teens to engage in risky behavior, because their judgment can become impaired. Marijuana can affect the frontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in decision making. That could result in making decisions they wouldn't consider if they weren't under the influence.

Teens who recreationally smoke marijuana or do other drugs only once in awhile are likely to increase their use in the future. Researchers found that people who initially reported only using recreational drugs on the weekend progressed to daily use over time. Once a habit is formed, it can be tough to quit.

Luckily, there are things you can do to help keep teens from forming this habit. For starters, share this eye-opening infographic with them and our true teen story “Marijuana Mess.” Listen to what they have to say on the subject and answer their questions. A few puffs for fun now can have long-lasting negative effects on their brains and their future. The best thing you can do is equip them with the facts.