Town Hall Meetings to Address Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among Teens
So, you’re at a party or just hanging out after school. You’ve already decided that alcohol isn’t worth the buzz because you feel too rotten afterwards. You’re also positive cigarettes are evil; the smokers you know just aren’t very interesting. Pot, on the other hand, seems okay. After all, California just made it legal, and besides, you have several friends with parents who get high, a couple of them every day.
You even know someone whose parents have opened a pot shop with a cool name and sign you couldn’t help but snap. You’ve heard your own parents reminisce about when possessing pot could, in some states, land you in prison, for life! But now it’s totally legal, at least when you turn 21, so what’s the big deal?
How THC affects the brain is what really matters most. We know that short-term effects can make you silly and mellow, but the reasons are because your attention span, memory and decision-making abilities are impaired. Short-circuit this stuff just a little bit and things go a little haywire for a few hours, a few days or – keep reading – a lifetime.
Keep reworking your brain wires and it looks like school work, socializing, and eventually work and happiness, can all take a serious hit. There are also studies that suggest there is a decrease in IQ in people who smoke a lot of pot. In other words they just get stupider, which can seem funny, until it’s not.
Truth is, the whole thing can be harder when you’re young. A Harvard doctor says your “brain is still under construction” until you’re around 25 years old. Because of this continuing growth, called neurodevelopment, the brain is especially vulnerable. Added to that, the frontal cortex – that part where you make decisions and where the person you “are” is formed, develops very slowly.
Not every study has resulted in these dire conclusions, though close to 100% suggest there are major brain changes when pot is used with alcohol. Think about your friends who smoke and drink and you have to admit that conclusion is really a no-brainer. Lots of research is still in progress, with many long-term studies now being published. One new study says kids in legal pot states think it is less dangerous than do kids in non-legal states.
The Sacramento County Coalition for Youth (SCCY) thinks you should take a “Future Forward” approach to your day. In other words, whether you buy the research or not, it’s just a smart idea to know what you’re doing and how it will affect your success, friendships and, let’s be blunt, your life. The Coalition isn’t around to judge you or your friends, but rather to provide info that enables you to make the most informed decisions about your own life.
As summer brings out the party fever in all of us, the SCCY is hosting Town Hall Meetings that will provide a forum for information and conversation concerning alcohol and marijuana use among teens. Sign up on the Sacramentoccy.org website to receive alerts on when these events will take place this summer.