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Marijuana is Not the “Safer” Alternative

Substance abuse is never a safe activity, especially when misconceptions and misunderstandings about the substance arise. Marijuana is not a safer alternative to other substances; rather, it is a dangerous substance that impacts the brain and body of developing teenagers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (1) states that nearly 21.2 percent of 12th-grade students use marijuana within one month, and roughly 6 percent use the substance every day. When teenagers abuse marijuana, it causes changes in the brain and damage to the physical body. Destinations for Teens understand that drugs like marijuana are prevalent and often misunderstood. But adolescents and young people can and do abuse it needing addiction treatment therapy.

Impact of Marijuana on the Developing Brain

According to the American Psychological Association (2), frequent marijuana use among teenagers and young adults has a significant and negative impact on the brain. When you or a loved one abuses marijuana, it changes the structure of the brain and has long-term effects. The changes that occur include:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Memory loss
  • Poor attention spans
  • Decreased IQ level
  • Addiction

The American Psychological Association (2) states that regular marijuana use means that an individual is using the substance one time per week. In young adults and teenagers, regular substance abuse increases the risk of addiction. Some signs help make it easier to identify a substance problem. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (3) explains that it also impacts physical coordination and the ability to make sound decisions. When you or a loved one abuses marijuana at a young age, you may engage in risky behaviors or reduce your ability to react to certain situations appropriately.

Negative Physical Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Although cognitive changes are a concern, the physical impact of marijuana is also dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (3), the physical side effects of marijuana harm the body. The impact of marijuana on the body include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Risk of lung infections, such as pneumonia
  • High risk of smoking cigarettes or making it difficult to quit smoking cigarettes
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Increased risk of anxiety
  • Negative effects on an unborn child when a mother smokes marijuana

Since marijuana also increases risk-taking behaviors, the possibility of contracting sicknesses like sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, or similar illnesses will also increase. Although the risk of overdosing on marijuana is low, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (3) explains that the changes to perception and coordination can result in injuries or death.

Long-Term Impact and Destinations for Teens Can Help

Using marijuana at a young age has lasting effects on the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (4), marijuana abuse during brain development changes the way that the brain forms and matures. It prevents the brain from properly maturing, which results in memory loss and reduced cognitive function. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (4) explains that marijuana abuse lowers IQ points, and individuals who quit abusing marijuana never regain their previous IQ if they abused marijuana during brain development. Marijuana is not a safe alternative to other substances. It is an addictive substance, and it changes the way that the brain and body function. Avoiding marijuana abuse allows the brain to mature and develop. When an addiction develops, seeking professional treatment helps with recovery goals and regaining physical well-being. Here at Destinations for Teens, we offer several substance abuse treatment programs, marijuana addiction and marijuana withdrawal just being a couple of them. But in these programs, adolescents and young adults can get the therapy they need, such as:

To learn more about the dangers of marijuana and how we can help with addiction treatment, give us a call at 877.466.0620.


  1. Drug Facts: High School and Youth Trends, National Institute on Drug Abuse, December 2014,
  2. Regular Marijuana Use Bad for Teens’ Brains, American Psychological Association, August 9, 2014,
  3. Drug Facts: Marijuana, National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens,
  4. What Are Marijuana’s Long-Term Effects on the Brain?, National Institute on Drug Abuse, December 2014,