Developmental Issues in Teenagers Caused by Marijuana Use

Adolescent brain neuroscience has determined that a person’s brain will continue to develop into their mid to late twenties. When a teenager’s brain is exposed to neurotoxins during this particular developmental period, it can alter their brain’s function and structure on a permanent basis. A teenager’s brain development will be negatively impacted.


When a teenager smokes marijuana, the THC quickly goes from their lungs to their bloodstream and brain. This will result in them experiencing an immediate high. The THC acts on a teenager’s endocannabinoid system that plays a critical part in normal brain function and development. THC also activates the reward system in a teenager’s brain. THC can damage the development of neural pathways in a teenager’s brain. Especially teenagers who are chronic users of marijuana.

Risk Factors

Teenagers who use marijuana often have parents who are permissive or who also use marijuana. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of parents living in the suburbs use marijuana. It’s also possible these teenagers are involved in other negative behaviors such as using tobacco products, drinking alcohol, and more. It is common for a teenager who is a habitual user of marijuana to have a family with a history of abusing alcohol and drugs.

Teenage Marijuana Use

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHA), marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. More than 43 million people claim to have used marijuana during the previous twelve months. Its use is extremely widespread among young people

  • Six percent of 12th graders claim to use marijuana daily
  • Over three million adolescents from the ages of 12 to 17 claim to have used marijuana during the past twelve months
  • 22 percent of 12th graders claim to have used marijuana during the past 30 days.
  • More than 11 million young adults from the ages of 18 to 25 claim to have used marijuana during the past twelve months
  • 14 percent of 8th graders claim to have used marijuana during their lifetime
  • 33 percent of 10th graders claim to have used marijuana during their lifetime
  • 44 percent of 12th graders claim to have used marijuana during their lifetime

Decreased Cognitive Function

There have been studies that show reduced cognitive function is associated with teens using marijuana. One study illustrated that teens who use marijuana on a regular basis may lose over 5 IQ points by the time they become adults. Research has shown that marijuana has a significantly stronger negative impact on the cognitive development of teenagers who regularly use it when compared to alcohol consumption.

Long-Term Risks

The long-term risks experienced by teenagers who regularly use marijuana involve respiratory issues, a significant increase in the chance of having a heart attack, the development of lung cancer, and more. There is also a high risk of developing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. This involves vomiting, cycles of severe nausea as well as dehydration that often requires a person to seek emergency medical care.

Legal Marijuana Use

Professionals involved with teen rehab know it is foolish to assume that legal marijuana laws can keep marijuana away from teenagers. Many teenagers use it even if it is against the law. The University of Florida conducted research and found that more than 53 percent of young adults have used marijuana by the time they reach the age of 21. The researchers discovered that the chances of adolescents using marijuana increased steadily beginning at the age of 11. The first peak for use is when people reach the age of 16. Research showed there is a slight decrease at the age of 17, but the second peak begins at the age of 18. This is significantly under the legal age of use in the 21 states that have made marijuana legal.

Parents Unaware

It is common for adolescents to attempt to self-medicate their mood disorder with alcohol or drugs. Many parents struggle to understand the reason why their child is using marijuana. It is possible experiencing a traumatic life event can result in teenagers engaging in substance abuse.

Teen Rehab Treatment

Success often depends on helping teenagers address co-occurring issues. If this is not done correctly, their substance use often continues. Marijuana is dangerous for healthy teens. It can cause brain development to be stunted. The use of marijuana is very dangerous for teenagers who have mental health issues. Marijuana has been shown to induce anxiety attacks as well as psychosis in teenagers instead of helping them. If you are ready to get started call us today at 833-846-5669.