Jon C Is Experimentation Safe?
The phenomenon of substance use disorders, it’s pretty complicated, and it’s near impossible to predict who will develop a severe substance use disorder and who won’t, when it comes to substances. You could have a group of four people that all start experimenting with cannabis at 13 years old, and maybe one of those four will develop a substance use disorder that they struggle with. Whereas the others might be relatively unscathed. That does not mean that experimentation is safe.
As far as marijuana, a lot of people do assume that it is an innocuous substance. That it is a substance that a person can use that is relatively safe, and that simply isn’t true. A person that is using during their adolescence, specifically with cannabis, one of the processes during adolescent development period help us to function optimally as adults. One of those is myelination of our neurons in our brain. What myelination does is a kind of helps to create more concrete neural pathways and myelination acts as an insulator for those pathways.
Another thing that happens during adolescence is fine tuning or pruning process of our synaptic pathways. So there’s a fine tuning process of our synaptic pathways that helps us to function optimally. And, one of the chemicals that is responsible for that fine tuning process that we all produce endogenously with inside us is called anandamide and anandamide acts really like, like a scalpel with surgical precision to excise or block the neuropathways that aren’t efficient for us.
When a person uses cannabis, especially during that adolescent process, cannabis affects the neurochemicals and it attaches to the receptor sites in our brain, of anandamide and 2-AG. The problem with cannabis is that as it attaches and binds to the anandamide receptors, it acts more like a sledge hammer. As far as the fine tuning process or like a chainsaw. It goes in there and just obliterate those pathways and does so in a way that is unnatural.
One of the biggest arguments with cannabis is people think that it’s safe because it’s natural, but it produces changes in our brain that is, that are not natural whatsoever.
As a person begins to experiment with cannabis, because of those changes and because of the way it affects the brain’s reward center, an adolescent is less likely to go out and explore their community and engage in taking healthy risks that are part of the adolescent developmental period. Those healthy risks are absolutely essential for getting the autonomy that is necessary for adulthood. When we take healthy risks, we do get rewards.
It’s speculated that part of the reason that it’s typical for adolescents to become dampen or are just a little bit more depressed during that developmental period is so that they do go out and explore their environment and take those healthy risks so that they can grow into who they are.
The problem with cannabis is it tricks our brain into thinking that we’ve done something that’s good for us when we absolutely haven’t.