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“Even when I’m high I feel awful.  I just hate myself.  I keep saying to myself, ‘You are so weak, you are so stupid, you are such a loser.’  Because I did what I didn’t want to do.  I want to stay sober, to be happy, to get back into school and straighten out my crooked life.  And I can’t seem to do it.  I keep thinking that I’m hopeless.  I  will never have what it takes to stay sober.  That thought fills me with despair and self-hatred.  It makes me want to die.”

-- Alicia, 15

Imagine that you could take off the top of your skull and lift out your brain for a little experiment.  Fill up a little tub with whiskey, beer, marijuana, cocaine, meth, chopped up Oxys, and a bottle of cough syrup.  Stir it all up and put your brain (very gently!) in the tub.  What will happen to it?

“It will shrivel up and die,” said Joe, a 17-year-old marijuana user who occasionally mixes in alcohol, cocaine, and prescription painkillers.  Joe is close to the truth -- when a fresh, new, developing brain is exposed to large and repeated doses of alcohol and/or other drugs, the results can be catastrophic in both the short- and long-term.

Kids and drugs don’t mix.  Researchers used to think the brain stopped developing by age 5 but we know now that the brain goes through a second stage of development in the teenage years.

The image below– the product of a decade-long study of normal brain development by researcher Jay Giedd – tells the story.

brain_graymatter

The gray matter – the thinking part of the brain – thickens and grows through childhood like a tree sprouting branches and developing its root system.  Then, around age 11-12 it’s time for “brain sculpting” as extra twigs and limbs are lopped off to strengthen the reasoning and problem solving parts of the brain (prefrontal cortex).

brain_maturing

If kids start drinking, smoking, snorting, or injecting drugs in their teenage years, the sculpting process may be disrupted or stalled.  What that means is that all the “higher” functions of the brain may not develop properly so that reason, judgment, planning, emotions, problem solving, impulse control, empathy, and creativity are stunted or distorted – and not just for a few years but possibly for a lifetime. 

Regular use of marijuana, alcohol, and/or other drugs – especially if a young person uses more than one drug at a time (a common practice) – may create a chemical assault on the brain that causes permanent damage, lasting for the next sixty or seventy years of their lives.

Meth Brain

brain_on_meth

Holes in the Brain

brain_on_marijuana

16 YEAR-OLD MARIJUANA USER

This brain scan by Dr. Daniel Amen shows the impact of 2 years of marijuana use on a 16-year-old’s  brain.  The “holes” are areas where nothing much is happening -- the lines of communication between one part of the brain and another are cut off.  Thoughts, memory, reason, and emotions hit “dead ends.”

 

btndonatenow

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120 East Birch Street
Suite 14
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Phone: 509-876-4525
Email: trilogyrecovery@gmail.com
Open by appointment


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