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Life stories of those who have embraced recovery 2016-10-28T19:24:48+00:00

Ayeneh Foundation’s friends and colleagues celebrate Dariush Eghbali’s 16th birthday in Shahre Nour, Iran 2016-10-28T19:24:48+00:00

The world of recovery in Aligoudarz, in Lorestan – Iran , Part 2 2016-10-28T19:24:49+00:00

Ayeneh Foundation’s seminar at Chapman University, Orange County 2016-10-28T19:24:54+00:00

Ayeneh Foundation’s seminar at Chapman University, Jan. 10, 2016 2016-10-28T19:24:54+00:00

The growing roots of recovery & the glory of sharing the message of freedom 2016-10-28T19:24:55+00:00

Teens who smoke pot at risk for later schizophrenia, psychosis 2016-10-28T19:24:56+00:00

Teenagers and young adults who use marijuana may be messing with their heads in ways they don’t intend.

Evidence is mounting that regular marijuana use increases the chance that a teenager will develop psychosis, a pattern of unusual thoughts or perceptions, such as believing the television is transmitting secret messages. It also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, a disabling brain disorder that not only causes psychosis, but also problems concentrating and loss of emotional expression.

In one recent study that followed nearly 2,000 teenagers as they Smoke rises from a marijuana cigarettebecame young adults, young people who smoked marijuana at least five times were twice as likely to have developed psychosis over the next 10 years as those who didn’t smoke pot.

Another new paper concluded that early marijuana use could actually hasten the onset of psychosis by three years. Those most at risk are youths who already have a mother, father, or sibling with schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder.

Young people with a parent or sibling affected by psychosis have a roughly one in 10 chance of developing the condition themselves—even if they never smoke pot. Regular marijuana use, however, doubles their risk—to a one in five chance of becoming psychotic.

In comparison, youths in families unaffected by psychosis have a 7 in 1,000 chance of developing it. If they smoke pot regularly, the risk doubles, to 14 in 1,000.

For years, now, experts have been sounding the alarm about a possible link between marijuana use and psychosis. One of the best-known studies followed nearly 50,000 young Swedish soldiersfor 15 years. Those who had smoked marijuana at least once were more than twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who had never smoked pot. The heaviest users (who said they used marijuana more than 50 times) were six times as likely to develop schizophrenia as the nonsmokers.

So far, this research shows only an association between smoking pot and developing psychosis or schizophrenia later on. That’s not the same thing as saying that marijuana causes psychosis.

This is how research works. Years ago, scientists first noted an association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Only later were they able to figure out exactly how cigarette smoke damaged the lungs and other parts of the body, causing cancer and other diseases.

The research on marijuana and the brain is at a much earlier stage. We do know that THC, one of the active compounds in marijuana, stimulates the brain and triggers other chemical reactions that contribute to the drug’s psychological and physical effects.

But it’s not clear how marijuana use might lead to psychosis. One theory is that marijuana may interfere with normal brain development during the teenage years and young adulthood.

The teenage brain is still a work in progress. Between the teen years and the mid-20s, areas of the brain responsible for judgment and problem solving are still making connections with the emotional centers of the brain. Smoking marijuana may derail this process and so increase a young person’s vulnerability to psychotic thinking. (You can read more about how the adolescent brain develops in this article from the Harvard Mental Health Letter.)

While the research on marijuana and the mind has not yet connected all the dots, these new studies provide one more reason to caution young people against using marijuana—especially if they have a family member affected by schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder. Although it may be a tough concept to explain to a teenager, the reward of a short-time high isn’t worth the long-term risk of psychosis or a disabling disorder like schizophrenia.

Rat study reveals long-term effects of adolescent amphetamine abuse on the brain 2016-10-28T19:24:57+00:00

The study, reported in the journal Neuroscience, found that amphetamine leads to changes in dopamine signaling. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory, attention, learning and feelings of pleasure.

“The dopamine system, which continues to develop throughout adolescence and young adulthood, is a primary target of psychostimulant drugs like amphetamine,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Joshua Gulley, who led the new research. “Changes in dopamine function in response to repeated drug exposure are likely to contribute to the behavioral consequences — addiction and relapse, for example — that abusers experience.”

Parallels between rat and human development make rats a worthy model for the study of human drug addiction, which often begins in adolescence, Gulley said.

“Rats exhibit many of the characteristics that human adolescents do. They tend to be more impulsive than adult rats; they tend to make more risky decisions,” he said. They also can engage in “addiction-like behaviors,” he said.