Marijuana can alter your behavior but does that mean it can change who you are? A few studies suggest adolescents could be at risk.
There’s no question marijuana is considered a cerebral drug. A few vapes of a kush strain and you’re laughing at something you thought of in the shower. You write it down and dream of killing it on stage and are already thinking of your Netflix comedy special title. You text said joke to your friend only to get a “?” as a response instead of a “lol”. Then you realize what you thought was pretty stupid and not funny. Then you realize “Shut Up Everybody” is a bad Netflix title. Then you realize you texted your boss and not your friend. Oops.
Only the great power of a magical flower could manipulate your brain into such a line of thinking. The question is, how does a cerebral substance affect the brain while it’s growing? We all picture that guy or gal we know that laughs like a moron and can’t stop talking about weed, edibles and/or shrooms. Maybe their personality drew them to marijuana and that’s why they’re the way they are. Maybe they’re the way they are because marijuana was introduced to them at a young age.
Now the legalization of marijuana has gone mainstream (and by that I mean legal) there have been multiple studies looking into the effects of weed in adolescence.
According to Scientific American, Nora Volkow director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (link) gives an example of how marijuana can hinder an adolescent’s brain growth.
“If, like those kids outside my window, you frequently show up high in class, you will likely miss the intellectual and social stimulation to which the adolescent brain is perfectly tuned. This is the period”
According to Volkow those kids can develop a learning disadvantage compared to the other kids. In adolescence the brain is wired to absorb complex situations and a marijuana buzz can hinder that. The cannabinoids that are part of our neural network control appetite, sleep, emotion, mood etc. All of these things can be affected by marijuana use at a young age. She also goes on to say that adolescence who use heavily wind up unhappier and achieving less in life. That seems like a very general statement and something we’ll investigate in a future blog 😉
If you want to see proof that substance can change your personality just ask one of your smoker friends. While they are talking either smack the smoke out of their mouth or flush their pack down the toilet. The pack might get stuck during the flushing process but the water will destroy the smokes. Their personality will probably change instantly.
All joking aside I am referring to addiction and what can happen to someone when they stop using. For more info on marijuana addiction check out our previous blog “Is Marijuana Addictive?“. Withdrawal symptoms linked to marijuana addiction include:
- Heightened anxiety
- Changes in appetite (eat less or more)
- Mood swings
- Onset feelings of depression
- Increased nervousness
As mentioned above, cannabinoids are linked with our neural system. When marijuana is used heavily and regularly the cannabinoids act accordingly. Pull the plug on marijuana use and now your neural network has to adapt and re-wire itself.
Imagine you had tickets to Disney On Ice and invited your pothead friend. Of course they want to get high in the parking lot before the show. When asked about the show they’re not going to tell you about Donald Duck doing a summersault on skates- they’re going to brag about how high they got.
“How was the show?”
“Oh man I got so messed up it was hilarious”
We all know this person. If you had the power and could take away their weed how do you think they’d react? What would happen if you locked them in a room for a week with no weed? Please don’t misunderstand and actually do it. I’m asking if someone like that could stop for a week? Or a day?
When you read the title of this blog, “Can Marijuana Change Your Personality?” it reads with a negative tone. No ones wants their identity to change or think that their identity has changed because of something they enjoy. However, marijuana is considered medication for mental illness. Veterans have been using marijuana to treat PTSD for years. So why can’t marijuana changing your personality (even just a little bit) be considered a good thing?
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental condition because the suffering can spread to other people. Unfortunately it usually spreads to loved ones. The symptoms of the disorder describe a 80’s comedy bully: aggressive, full of themselves and have a superiority complex. The symptoms are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complexity of this illness. It shouldn’t be taken lightly and anyone diagnosed with this mental illness shouldn’t be judged so harshly. Not voting for them would not only help the country but it could possibly help them too.
Your brain is bound by a neural network of cannabinoids that can affect your mood. Smoking weed directly affects those cannabinoids, therefore, marijuana can be effective in suppressing aggressive behavior and easing anxiety. Someone suffering from BPD can use marijuana to treat aggressive symptoms of BPD but it is certainly not a cure. It’s still a great positive to help alleviate the pain associated with BPD. The downside is someone using that much weed to prevent aggressive episodes may develop a dependence.
“Permafried” A Real Condition?
“Permafried” is slang for permanently baked or a scrambled brain. We usually identify this with the cartoonish stereotype of a pot head. Someone who speaks like Tommy Chong’s character and says “maaaan” at the end of every sentence. While comical it does pose a serious question: can marijuana permanently alter your personality and turn you into a dirty hippie? Not only is it a valid health question but it has been used as an argument for keeping marijuana illegal.
According to a study from the Nation Institute of Drug Abuse it isn’t quite clear. It seems as though marijuana use at adolescence has a much more negative effect then using as an adult. While the brain is growing marijuana intervention can stunt the growth of a otherwise healthy brain. There’s a bunch more science behind all of that but that’s the gist of it according to modern studies.
There are countless studies discussing the effects of marijuana and the human brain (mice and rats too!) but nothing I’ve seen points to anyone being “permafried”. The usual suspects come up such as lower IQ, memory loss and inability to learn new skills at an older age. None of that compares to the stigma that a lot of marijuana users get labelled as. Potheads.
When you think of a pothead you probably think of someone in a rastacap who skateboards in a library parking lot and wearing a Snoop Dogg t-shirt. He has no job, lives at home and and wakes up at noon. This is a conservative father’s worst nightmare. The good news is that this guy is eating up marijuana culture but not so much marijuana itself. I’m sure he smokes a lot of it but his DGAF attitude has nothing to do with it. When he’s 60 he’ll be calling son on how to work the hologram machine so he can watch a Sublime concert in 3D. That’s because marijuana doesn’t help with his memory but it didn’t transform him into Tommy Chong.
At the end of the day it looks like smoking at a very young age can have some pretty bad consequences. While the young brain is growing it can be thwarted by heavy marijuana use. Now that it is legal it is more important than ever to keep it away from kids and to educate them, not scare them. I’m not sure if you remember the “Just say no” era of the 80’s but spoiler alert…..it didn’t work.