Normalizing the consumption of marijuana is normalizing the deterioration of mental health

Marijuana consumption in the world

Leonor Adriana Diaz Sanchez (Shakti-seva/l.a.d.s)

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The consumption of marijuana in the world has quadrupled, but fewer and fewer adolescents perceive it as a drug that is harmful to health, according to a report by the UN Office Against Drugs and Crime. This is how, of the 275 million people who consume drugs in the world, 200 million of these consume marijuana. According to the executive director of UNODC, Ghada Waly: "The lower perception of the risks of drug use has a direct relationship with the higher rates of consumption, and it is necessary to close the gap between perception and reality to educate youth and safeguard public health".

Reviewing the consumption statistics by continent, after Oceania, Africa is the continent in which the most Marijuana is consumed, followed in the percentage of consumption by the Caribbean Countries such as Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis that exceed the consumption in Jamaica. In North America, the largest consumer is the United States, followed by the percentage of consumption, Canada and, curiously, Mexico, being the place where marijuana is most seized, has a very low percentage of consumption. In South America, Argentina is the country where the most marijuana is consumed. While in Europe, the Czech Republic is the leader in consumption, followed by Italy, Andorra, and Spain in descending order. Asia is the continent with the lowest consumption, while Israel occupies the first place in consumption in the Middle East.

The use of technology has facilitated consumption, through online sales with delivery through courier service, facilitating illegal trade through what has been called the hidden internet network, also called the dark web.

Deromanticizing Marijuana

Marijuana is a gray-green mixture of the dried and crushed leaves and flowers of the cannabis sativa, the hemp plant, which contains a psychoactive (meaning, mind-altering) substance called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it contains more than 500 chemicals, including more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC and known as cannabinoids, are responsible for the most part for the intoxicating effects of its consumption. They affect the regions of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, movement, coordination, and the perception of time and space, and their consumption alters various physical and mental functions.

1. Short-term effects

• Decreases the ability to think and interferes with a person's ability to learn and perform complicated tasks by impairing the functioning of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, which are regions of the brain that allow a person to create new memories and change their focus of thought. attention.

Can cause acute psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and loss of sense of personal identity, when taken in high doses.

• Develops a state of gratification from the surge of dopamine, which "teaches" the brain to repeat the gratifying behavior, contributing to the addictive properties of marijuana, making it the gateway drug for addicts.

• Develop what is called marijuana consumption disorder, which leads to addiction, since it is associated with dependence in 30% of the people who consume. This disorder is more likely to occur in people who start consuming before the age of 18 and generates what is called withdrawal syndrome, in those people who consume frequently and when they stop consuming, it causes sleep problems, irritability, changes in mood, anxiety, decreased appetite, desire to use other drugs to compensate, etc.

• An investigation report from the National Institute on drug abuse, in the United States, talks about the increase in potency of marijuana due to the increase in THC content, which makes it more addictive. "These trends raise concern that the consequences of marijuana use could be worse than in the past, especially among those just starting to use the drug or in young people whose brains are still developing."

2. Long-term effects

• In the same research report from the Institute mentioned above, brain imaging studies are cited in which the impact of consumption on the brain structure in adolescents is evidenced, which generates connectivity alterations and the reduction in the size of certain areas of the brain. a brain that has to do with memory, impulse control, executive functions, and cognitive functions depending on the age at which the person began consuming and the time that consuming has lasted.

• “Among nearly 4,000 young adults followed for 25 years into mid-adulthood by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, cumulative lifetime exposure to marijuana was associated with lower scores on a test of verbal memory, but it did not affect other cognitive abilities, such as processing speed or executive function. The effect was large and significant, even after removing current users from the study and adjusting for confounding variables—such as demographic factors, alcohol or other drug use, and other psychiatric disorders, such as depression.”

• A study carried out in New Zealand found that the IQ of people who began frequent consumption in adolescence was reduced between 6 and 8 points when they reached adulthood. This shows that marijuana has a greater impact on young people because their brain is still maturing.

In conclusion, and from my perspective as a Holistic therapist, I consider the normalization of marijuana use to be nonsense, since no one is certain of the degree of pre-existing vulnerability of the brain, which under the effect of marijuana use can trigger certain psychiatric disorders. such as schizophrenia, depression, and/or anxiety. For this reason, I do not consider it valid to expose oneself to such high risks, for entering the wave of recreational consumption that could degenerate into dependency and/or addiction, which I have evidenced in my practice, and which has even led to suicide attempts by my patients.

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