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Friday, September 14, 2012

Marijuana's Lasting Effects on the Brain | National Institute on Drug Abuse

In my next several blog entries, I am going to feature information about different types of substances that young people abuse.  I will also feature some of the anonymous question cards submitted by students during the presentation.  I will conclude this series with some tips for parents gleaned from my own experience working with students plus that of our two counselors, Adele Bromiel and Caryl Altman.

I will focus on marijuana in this posting.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States."

There is solid research that supports that marijuana is linked to the premature aging of the the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory).  The study was done at Oxford University in England by a professor of pharmacology who found the brain atrophy in young people who were heavy marijuana users to be equal to that of 70-90 year olds.  Studies of rats also suggest that THC may hasten the aging of the brain.  (Schwartz, RH 1987, Paediatric Clinics of North America, 34:305-311).  Here is a link to an article from the NIDA that every parent needs to read about marijuana's effects on the brain:


One question that we received from several students during Patrick Barrasso's recent presentation went something like "Why can't we use marijuana, it's natural?"   These days, marijuana is a big business and the hybridization of marijuana produces a more potent product with a higher percentage of THC. So, much of the marijuana being sold is not "natural."  Moreover, "natural" doesn't make it good for one's health.  Some of the world's most toxic poisons could be considered "natural."

Another card I read stated "I heard you can't be addicted to pot." This is a myth.  Kids can get hooked on pot.  More young people enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other legal drugs combined.  


There are many informational websites about marijuana and other substances that have been created for parents:  Parents, the Anti-Drug is a website that offers guidance and advice to help parents.  National Institute on Drug Abuse's mission is to "lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction."  

If you think your child might be having a substance abuse problem, please seek professional help. Your  pediatrician is a great place to start.

Here at Esperero Canyon Middle School, your child is very important to us. Please let us know if we can do anything to assist you.  Our counselors are excellent resources:

 6th graders, Adele Bromiel at 209-8112 email:
 7th/8th graders, Caryl Altman at 209-8105 email:

If you have any questions or suggestions pertaining what information parents need or want to read about in my blog, please feel free to email me at

May all of our Eagles have a safe and wonderful weekend with family and friends.


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