Does smoking marijuana make you dumb?

January 25, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
Communications Coordinator, ATTC Network Coordinating Office
Editor, NIATx

That's just one of the 2,600  questions that teens asked researchers during NIDA's National Drug and Alcohol Chat Day, 2015.

And here's the answer, from Maureen Boyle, Chief of the Science Policy Branch in NIDA’s Office of Science Policy and Communications:
Regular use of marijuana--starting in the teen years--can impair brain development and lower IQ, meaning the brain may not reach its full potential. Here is an interesting infographic on marijuana use and your grades:
Teens don't know enough already
While some teens may say they know enough about drugs already, the National Drug and Alcohol Chat Day results suggest that plenty of teens really do want to know more.

Of the 2,600 questions posed in 2015:

  • 448 were about alcohol
  • 565 were about marijuana,
  • 1,243 were about prescription drugs

Teens also asked a lot of questions about cocaine, emerging drugs, pregnancy, sex, tobacco, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants.

Live online chat on Tuesday, January 26 
NIDA researchers will again be on call to answer teens' drug-related questions during a day-long online chat for this year's National Drug and Alcohol Chat Day,  Tuesday, January 26.  Visit the page after 8am to get a link to the live online chat.

While National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is just one week of concentrated activities and events across the nation, the NIDA for Teens available all year, is updated regularly with blogposts, videos, interactive games, and a quiz that challenges teens build their knowledge about drugs and what they do to growing brains and bodies.

Treatment providers can build their knowledge 

And now, treatment providers can also build their knowledge about teen substance abuse and treatment through Build up Your Teen Treatment IQ, (TTIQ) a national campaign launched in January 2016 by the ATTC Network's Adolescent Blending Team.

What's a Blending Team? 

It's a group of ATTC Network team members working to create user-friendly information products emerging from the latest NIDA research, all as part of NIDA-SAMHSA Blending Initiative.

Adolescent Blending Team members include:
Team member Pat Stilen, Director of the Mid-America ATTC, says TTIQ was developed "to provide quick access to evidence-based information that is visually appealing, particularly to the younger, social-media savvy behavioral health workforce."

TTIQ also aims to deliver essential information about teen substance abuse and treatment to pediatric healthcare providers, secondary schools, single-state-agencies, as well as the ATTC Network and the community it serves.

New products will be released quarterly. Products will include infographics, advertisements, social media posts, and webinars. Quarterly topics will include:

  • Adolescent brain development, brain changes, pleasure reward system
  • Adverse experiences and inherited genetic predisposition
  • Evidence-based behavioral approaches in treating adolescents
  • Evidence-based addiction medication approaches in treating adolescents
  • Culturally and linguistically-specific treatment needs of adolescents
  • Early intervention strategies, to include screening for risky behaviors and sexually transmitted diseases
Quarterly products will also be compiled in dissemination packages for distribution at national events. 

First TTIQ webinar coming up February 17

TTIQ launches its webinar series with "Substance Abuse Treatment for Racial and Ethnic Minority Adolescents: Examining the Evidence for Engagement and Cultural Adaptations." Presenter and TTIQ team member Jason Burrow-Sanchez, PhD will share insights from his research that shows that knowing how racial and ethnic minority teens identify with their cultures is essential to adapting treatment appropriatelyRegister for the webinar here.

How can you find out more?

Visit the TTIQ webpage regularly for news about the latest products and events. TTIQ will also keep you informed through the ATTC Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn sites--watch for updates!

Related ATTC/NIATx Service Improvement blog posts
Teen Brains and Marijuana: Marijuana Lit Video Series
Tools for Treating Teens: The Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research
Weapons of Mass Ridiculousness: Stomping Out Teen Smoking
Young People in Recovery: Speaking Up and Reaching Out Because:

Related news stories

"A lot of my friends who smoke don't see marijuana as something that can make you dependent."
Miami Teen Reflects on Marijuana Use Among His Peers

Addiction is a pediatric disease," says Dr. John Knight, founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children's Hospital. "When adults entering addiction treatment are asked when they first began drinking or using drugs, the answer is almost always the same: They started when they were young — teenagers," said Knight.

Lack of effective treatment in the teen years can blight an entire life. "When substance use disorders occur in adolescence, they affect key developmental and social transitions, and they can interfere with normal brain maturation," the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 2014. "These potentially lifelong consequences make addressing adolescent drug use an urgent matter."

Does your agency have an adolescent treatment program? What's the biggest challenge your agency faces in teen access to and retention in treatment?  Let us know in the comments section below. 

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