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If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Tag: marijuana

Oh, Man! Pot lowers your I.Q.

Since 1972 scientists from all over the world have been following 1,000 people living in New Zealand.  First they tested their IQs as kids, and then checked back in with them much later.  What they found may scare some.  Those who started smoking pot before the age of 18, and smoked it on average four times per week over a long period of time (say 20 years), had a lower IQ by as much as 8 points.  Sadly, if the long time smokers stopped, their IQ didn’t go up.   Interestingly, those who started smoking pot later in life – after 18 years old -- did not have a lower IQ.  Says a lot for the developing brain, doesn’t it. Click here for background basics on marijuana. To read more on this study go to  BBC News Health.

The Gateway Effect

A recent study conducted by Tristan Kirby MPH and Adam E Barry Ph.D. confirms that alcohol, not pot, is the primary indicator of whether an individual will experiment with other drugs. Researchers looked at the annual Monitoring the Future survey, in which 50,000 high school sophomores and seniors are questioned about their substance use and lifestyle choices. They compared high school seniors who had and had not consumed alcohol at least once in their lives and found that those who drank were 13 more times likely to smoke cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use  marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.

So why isn’t alcohol considered a “gateway” as marijuana is? For one thing, drinking is extremely common. Alcohol is legal and relatively easy to obtain. The Centers for Disease Control recently found that 71 percent of American students have consumed alcohol in their lifetime, and that nearly 39 percent drank within the last 30 days.

Q&A: I find that having a drink or smoking up before getting in bed makes it easier to fall asleep. Is there a downside to that as long as I don’t make a habit of it?

Some drugs like marijuana and alcohol slow you down and “mellow” you out. While it sometimes helps with the “falling asleep” part of sleeping, most of us discover that it is not a particularly re-energizing, restorative sleep, often leaving us nearly as beat as when we went to sleep.  Part of the “hung-over” feeling is the result of falling asleep but not getting the full restful sleep you need. This anecdotal evidence was confirmed by a 2011 Stanford University sleep study.  Healthy 21 year old subjects who were given alcohol before bedtime for a few weeks showed “increased slow-wave sleep during the first half of sleep, but then their sleep became disruptive.”  The study concluded that “alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep.”

Long time marijuana users report much the same effect.  While they say that smoking initially helps them fall asleep, staying asleep is another matter; they often find themselves waking up 3-5 hours later as the THC  moves out of their system. Awake, but not feeling so great.

For more information about getting the Z’s you need, visit the National Sleep Foundation website.

“It’s not like anybody ever overdosed on it, right?” - Marijuana

“What is so bad about it? It’s natural so what’s the harm in it?” The discussion about marijuana has gone on for years. For every one in favor of its use and positive effects, there is another warning against its dangers.   More recently, the debate has been revisited with the growing movement for its legalization for medical use.

On the plus side, marijuana can provide euphoric lift to give some relief to those experiencing chronic cancer pain’s emotional toll and side effects of chemotherapy. The drug administers an anti-nausea effect and  can cause an increase in appetite making it an appealing medicine.

For the average person seeking  its recreational use, it can commonly be used as a way of looking for pleasure or attempting to reduce the feelings brought up by emotional or inter-personal issues. One common myth is that it is not addictive. Despite there being no physical withdrawal from the drug, craving for marijuana can develop after an extended period of regular use. An increasing pursuit of chemical highs is part of the risk typically involved.

Growers of marijuana are becoming increasingly focused on maximizing the psychoactive compound in the plant, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC for short). They have adopted advanced cultivation techniques in order to enhance the effects of the drug. The subsequent increase in the THC level in modern marijuana will increase its negative effects as well as the positive.

These magnified influences of increased THC levels in marijuana have raised concerns that it is  no longer the benign substance perhaps that it once was when it first rose to popularity in middle class youth culture in the 1960’s.

For more on Marijuana click here.