National Prevention Week is May 14-20, a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. Each day of the week highlights a health topic and Thursday’s topic is: The Prevention of Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use.
Illicit drug use includes the use or abuse of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana as well as the misuse of prescription medications and household products. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, approximately half of adolescents have abused an illegal drug at least once, with the marijuana being the most commonly abused drug.
Marijuana, also known as “weed,” “pot,” or “grass,” among other names, is a dried product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinal is the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for the drug’s mind-altering effects.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the brain is affected by THC by the chemical attaching itself to brain cells with cannabinoid receptors, causing a release of dopamine in the brain’s reward centers and creating pleasurable or “high” feelings.
Other effects of THC on the brain include changes in perception, mood, coordination, problem solving and learning and memory. When smoked, the effects of marijuana can be felt almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours; when consumed in food, the effects can be felt within 30 minutes to an hour and can last more…
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