Tuesday, May 5, 2015

15: Drugs: The Surest Way to End Your College Career

While I'm for legalization of marijuana, for a variety of reasons, just because something is "legal" (or may be, in the future, in your state) does not mean it is "good for you."

Let’s examine this carefully. Suppose you can engage in an activity that:

  • Costs you lots of money, that you likely could spend in much more productive ways (or save);
  • Damages your brain;
  • Is the easiest way to get kicked out of college; and
  • Can ruin your career.
How much would a person have to pay you, to take on such risks? Suprisingly, nothing, at least for a lot of students in college. In 2012, the rate of current use of illicit drugs was 22.0 percent among full-time college students aged 18 to 22.

Marijuana – Ill Effects on Your Brain

Is “pot” harmless? Not by a longshot, especially for those under the age of 25, according to recent scientific research. Marijuana is a drug, and all drugs have risks and side effects.

  • THC, the active chemical in marijuana, increases the activity of a pathway that promotes protein synthesis in the brain. This transient increase of protein synthesis correlates with long-term memory deficits.[1] Furthermore, and while additional research is needed to confirm this result, in a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, researchers found that adolescents who used marijuana at least four days per week lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38.
  • Teens who were heavy marijuana users had abnormal changes in their brains related to memory and performed poorly on memory tasks. The brain abnormalities and memory problems were observed in the subjects' early twenties, two years after they stopped smoking marijuana, possibly indicating long-term effects. Memory-related structures in their brains appeared to shrink. The younger drug abuse starts, the more abnormal the brain appeared. The marijuana-related brain abnormalities look similar to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities.[2]
  • The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week. The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes. This study suggests that even light to moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy.[3]
  • Marijuana use may result in cardiovascular-related complications -- even death -- among young and middle-aged adults.[4]

Don’t Smoke Pot and Drive!

The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the US steadily rose from 1999 to 2010 and especially for drivers who tested positive for marijuana. Researchers found that of 23,591 drivers who were killed within one hour of a crash, 39.7 percent tested positive for alcohol and 24.8 percent for other drugs. The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs rose from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010; for marijuana, rates rose from 4.2 percent to 12.2 percent.[5]

In a recent study, it was found that  among marijuana-using college students, 44 percent of males and 9 percent of females drove after using the drug, and 51 percent of males and 35 percent of females rode as a passenger with a marijuana-using driver. The authors of the study speculated that the large percentage of students who drove while impaired reflects the widespread myth that driving after marijuana use is safe.[6]


Using illegal drugs in college, including marijuana, is the easiest way to shorten your college career. In addition, research demonstrates permanent, negative impacts on your brain.

Make a choice. Make a wise choice.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

[1] Emma Puighermanal, Giovanni Marsicano, Arnau Busquets-Garcia, Beat Lutz, Rafael Maldonado & Andrés Ozaita. Cannabinoid modulation of hippocampal long-term memory is mediated by mTOR signaling. Nature Neuroscience, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2369.
[2] M. J. Smith, D. J. Cobia, L. Wang, K. I. Alpert, W. J. Cronenwett, M. B. Goldman, D. Mamah, D. M. Barch, H. C. Breiter, J. G. Csernansky. Cannabis-Related Working Memory Deficits and Associated Subcortical Morphological Differences in Healthy Individuals and Schizophrenia Subjects. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbt176
[3] Jodi M. Gilman, John K. Kuster, Sang Lee, Myung Joo Lee, Byoung Woo Kim, Nikos Makris, Andre Van Der Kouwe, Anne J. Blood and Hans C. Breiter. Cannabis Use is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users. Journal of Neuroscience, April 16, 2014
[4] E. Jouanjus, M. Lapeyre-Mestre, J. Micallef. Cannabis Use: Signal of Increasing Risk of Serious Cardiovascular Disorders. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2014; 3 (2): e000638 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.113.000638.
[5] J. E. Brady, G. Li. Trends in Alcohol and Other Drugs Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States, 1999-2010. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwt327.

[6] Jennifer M. Whitehill, Frederick P. Rivara, Megan A. Moreno. Marijuana-Using Drivers, Alcohol-Using Drivers, and Their Passengers. JAMA Pediatrics, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5300.

No comments:

Post a Comment