|~Just say no to Drugs~|
|Facts on Drugs|
| Marijuana's Effects on the Brain
Marijuana's effects begin as soon as the drug enters the brain and can last from 1 to 3 hours. As THC enters the brain, it causes the user to feel high by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. When the euphoria passes, the user may feel sleepy or depressed and may also get feelings of panic, anxiety, or distrust. Marijuana affects a person's ability to shift attention from one thing to another and causes damage to short-term memory because of how THC alters the way information is processed by the hippocampus. THC disrupts coordination and balance by binding to parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination of movement, and reaction time.
Other Effects on the BodyBecause marijuana contains irritants and carcinogens, it can promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract. A study comparing 173 cancer patients and 176 healthy individuals produced strong evidence that smoking marijuana increased the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck. The more marijuana that was smoked, the greater the increase in likelihood. Marijuana also produces high levels of an enzyme that converts some hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form. These levels may accelerate the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells. Additionally, marijuana users typically inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers, increasing the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Users who smoke marijuana regularly may experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, including daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and frequent chest colds. Continued marijuana use can result in abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the user's heart begins to beat more rapidly and may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, or even double. Results of a study released in 2001 indicate that a person's risk of heart attack within the first hour of smoking marijuana is four times the usual risk.
| MDMA (Ecstasy)
Research shows that MDMA causes damage to the parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory. MDMA increases the activity levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The drug causes the release of the neurotransmitters from their storage sites, which increases brain activity. By releasing large amounts of the neurotransmitters and also interfering with neurotransmitter synthesis, MDMA causes a significant depletion in the neurotransmitters. It takes the brain a significant length of time to rebuild the amount of serotonin and other neurotransmitters needed to perform important functions.
In addition to the dangers associated with MDMA itself, users are also at risk of being given a substitute drug. For example, PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) is an illicit, synthetic hallucinogen that has stimulant effects similar to MDMA. However, when users take PMA believing they are ingesting MDMA, they often think they have taken weak ecstasy because PMA?s effects take longer to appear. They then ingest more of the substance to attain a better high, which can result in death by overdose. The synthetic drug MDMA is commonly found at rave parties, nightclubs, and, more recently, other settings such as schools, malls, and private homes that are frequented by youth and young adults. The damaging effects of the drug can be long lasting and are possible after only a small number of uses. The trafficking of MDMA is increasing at an alarming rate, and multiple agencies have reported large seizures of the drug.