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Weed: Worth It?

Many teens feel pressured to try marijuana at some point during high school. It might seem like “everybody’s doing it,” and people might be telling you “it’s not a big deal, just try it.” But the reality is that marijuana is a very big deal.

Marijuana, often referred to as pot, weed, herb, reefer, or Mary Jane, is a mixture of dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. The mixture can be green, brown, or gray, and has a very strong smell. Most people roll loose marijuana into a cigarette joint and smoke it, but some people also put it in food and tea.

When people are high on marijuana, they feel good. It gives them pleasant sensations, and enhances all their senses. Everything feels good, everything tastes better than normal, everything sounds cool. But it only feels good for a very short amount of time, and then the negative effects kick in.

Here are the short term effects… people high on marijuana have:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Slower reaction time
  • Problems responding to sounds/signals
  • A hard time remembering things
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor perception
  • Higher heart rates (20-50 beats faster per minute)
  • Inability to make decisions

And here are some long term effects:

  • People who currently or have previously smoked marijuana have a heart time with complex tasks. Marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which finds brain cells with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors, and binds to them. This affects the part of the brain that learns and remembers, and it continues to affect it permanently even when you’re not high anymore. So past users have a hard time pursuing academic, athletic, and other life goals that require you to be 100% focused and alert.
  • People who have used report less life satisfaction, poorer education/job achievement, and more anxiety and depression.
  • 1/6 people who start using at a young age become dependent on it and experience withdrawals when they try to quit.
  • Smoking marijuana is no different than smoking cigarettes, maybe even worse. It affects the lungs and airways, causes breathing problems, and causes people to be more susceptible to chest colds, coughs, and bronchitis. Marijuana smoke is also inhaled more deeply than cigarettes so more smoke enters the lungs for a longer period of time. It also contains the same chemicals as cigarettes… about 400 chemicals.
  • Marijuana can act as a gateway drug and lead people to trying other drugs.
  • Marijuana is also illegal. Anyone who is caught with it can spend time in jail, and be fined a lot of money, even if you’re under 18.

If your friends are pressuring you to try marijuana, just think about it: is less than an hour of a “good feeling” worth damaging your brain and lungs, being unable to make decisions and function normally, and risking getting arrested?

If you or a friend are want to quit smoking marijuana, talk to a parent, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult to get help. Or, you can call the Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which offers many other services besides helping people who are suicidal) at 1-800-273-TALK.

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Hookah: Legal but Good?

Just because something is legal does it mean that it is good for you? The answer should be no.

Think about this. A hookah, sometimes called a water pipe, is used to smoke shisha (a  flavored tobacco) is legal in the state of Oregon if you are 18 years old or older. Hookah bars are becoming increasingly more popular and many people justify hookah smoking with the fact that it is legal. With it’s growing popularity, hookah smoking could seem like a better alternative to smoking cigarettes or other drugs. Check out some of these facts from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and tell me if you still think that hookah smoking is good for you!Image

Did you know that only 1 hour of hookah smoking is the same as smoking 100 to 200 cigarettes!

Hookah smoking still has nicotine which is in cigarettes.

Oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function and decreased fertility are disease linked with smoking cigarettes as well as hookah smoking! Sounds fun, eh?

You can catch infectious diseases by sharing a hookah.

The charcoal used to heat the tobacco in the hookah can increase health risks because it produces high levels of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing chemicals! (Note: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death! So when you smoke hookah you are at a higher risk for illness and death.)

Secondhand smoke from hookahs is a serious risk for nonsmokers. So think before you go to hookah bar with friends, even if you aren’t going to be smoking with them. The smoke from the hookah can affect you but also the charcoal (which produces carbon monoxide) can be a serious risk.

Hookah smoking is NOT a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes!

So if you don’t want to have lung cancer, be addicted to tobacco, catch an infectious disease or be serious effected by carbon monoxide, you might want to rethink smoking hookah next time!

Next time you and your friends want something fun to do, go check out a new movie, go to a crazy yoga or fitness class, go swimming, pick up a new hobby, or come hang out with your friends at Youth Outreach!

*Note: If you are addicted to hookah smoking, or any other type of drugs, get help! Contact us and we can help!

Your Brain On Drugs

Being the learning junky that I am I came across this amazing article on adolescent brain development. Acts for Youth Upstate Center For Excellence released a report in 2002, that found the effects of drugs and alcohol on still developing teenage brains was serious.

 Your brain is still developing into your early twenties. It is still making new connections, increasing in grey matter, and building the framework of you.

One reason that teenagers  have problems with drugs and alcohol may be due to the fact that their brains are not fully developed. They tend to misinterpret emotions as well as being oblivious to real consequences of their actions. The study finds that the damage to teenage brains by alcohol and drugs are long lasting and can have major effects on the make up of the brain.

The good news is that the teenage brain is still developing, and if you choose to fill it with knowledge instead of alcohol and drugs you will have amazing effect. Use it or lose it, is the main rule of the brain. If you do not continue to learn and make new connections the neurons in your brain will die. So exercise your brain and pick up a book, not a beer.

The Drug Forecast: Sunshine

While I love Newberg and would not dream of  living anywhere else, my brother feels differently. He has been living in Bend with his wife for  4 years now, which is why this news story out of Bend caught my eye.

The big news story in Bend right now is all about sunshine, but not the kind you are thinking of. There is a new drug circulating called sunshine, but no one can figure out exactly what it is. A large shipment of the drug came into Bend from Portland a few weeks ago.  In those few short weeks it spread like wildfire. One 16-year-old girl took this drug under the assumption it was ecstasy and ended up in the hospital. The morning after she took the drug her family found her in her room, she was convulsing, hyperventilating and shivering. She was eventually rushed to the hospital by ambulance where her condition continued to deteriorate. She stayed overnight while the drug ran its course and was released the next day.  The authorities sent the drug to the lab to be tested, but even they have not seen this exact drug combination before. The drug is reported to come in pill and powder form. Both equally dangerous. It is also believed that varying forms of this drug around the world have already lead to multiple deaths of young people. Please don’t add to that statistic.

Pot in your Head

While I was reading up on the effects of marijuana I came across an interesting fact. Smoking marijuana is linked to the onset of schizophrenia. I don’t know about you but schizophrenia is not something that I would want. I know that smoking pot makes you calm, relaxed, hungry but crazy. Every reference I checked from Seventeen to Teen Health report the same information.

Besides making you crazy marijuana can do a lot of harm to your body in the short-term.  Drugfree.org reports “short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with weed. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.”

Think about it!