Brain Science for Teens: Alcohol and Marijuana


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This program is presented to teens in middle and high school. The activity in the middle is "build a brain" where I have the students act out a healthy brain and an addicted brain. It really helps them understand why our brain is so important when talking about addiction, drinking, smoking and being a student.

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  • Slide 21: Localization of THC binding sites When a person smokes marijuana, the active ingredient, a cannabinoid called THC, travels quickly to the brain. Point to the areas where THC (magenta) concentrates. The VTA, nucleus accumbens, caudate nucleus, hippocampus, and cerebellum are highlighted. THC binds to THC receptors that are concentrated in areas within the reward system as well as these other areas. Indicate that the action of THC in the hippocampus explains its ability to interfere with memory and actions in the cerebellum are responsible for its ability to cause uncoordination and loss of balance.
  • Brain Science for Teens: Alcohol and Marijuana

    1. 1. Your Brain,Your Life!
    2. 2. Presented by:“Dr. D”Executive Director of LEAF, Inc.
    3. 3. So, Why talk about thebrain? First…. The “duh” … It is our command center – it controls everything in our body; conscious and unconscious! Second…. This is where we make decision…. Important decisions!!
    4. 4. Making Decisions….Human beings make decisions because -3. They work and they make sense to us OR2. They FEEEEEEL good
    5. 5. Why do things need a Why do we even need to FEEEEEEL good? reward pathway? To reward us for activities consistent with our survival and that of our species! • Consuming Food • Drinking Water • Procreation • Child Nurturing/Rearing
    6. 6. What is the main way that people communicate?
    7. 7. Dopamine Receptors areLower in Addicts Cocaine DA D2 Receptor Availability Alcohol Heroin control addicted
    8. 8. Okay…. So,Let’s Build aBrain!!(remember the picture of the rewardpathway?I need TWO brains!!)
    9. 9. w, remember the healthy brain and the addicted brai
    10. 10. Lots ofdopamine DA D2 Receptor Availabilityreceptors!! Very few dopamine receptors!! Healthy Addicted
    11. 11. SIZE MATTERS!! studies• We have all heard about the where drinking wine is supposed to be good for your heart.Well……………• It’s bad for your brain… People who drink, even moderate amounts, have been shown to have brain shrinkage.
    12. 12. Even worse….Not only do you get a smaller brain, you get LESS activity!!
    13. 13. And surprisingly…..Young people who only drink on the weekend, have slower reaction times on memory tests than those who do not drink at all.
    14. 14. SO…. Let’s sum it up Alcohol damagesIt causes natural our lessbrainIt activity our shrinks reward circuits brains It slows down reaction time in memory tests!
    15. 15. TheBottomLine???
    16. 16. Alcohol ain’tbrain food!!
    17. 17. And neitherisMarijuana…
    18. 18. Marijuana’s Effect on the Brain •Impaired learning and memory •Lower grades and poor work performance can result • Impaired driving ability for hours even after the high fades
    19. 19. THC Binding SitesPref ro nt al Co rt e x  VTA Nucleus Accumbens
    20. 20. Marijuana’s Effect on the Brain •Because Marijuana impacts the brain so heavily, users are shown to have increased: –anxiety, –depression, –suicidal ideation, –schizophrenia
    21. 21. Other Marijuana Impacts• Users of marijuana graduate from college at a much lower rate than their parents did.• Users of marijuana have a much lower income than their parents did.• Users report significant dissatisfaction with – Their Social Life – Their Physical Health – Their Career
    22. 22. One more thing about Marijuana It causes cancer. • marijuana smoke contains 50–70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke • Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do
    23. 23. Today’s main healthmessage: Take care of your brain and your body… Your Health… Your Life… Your Body!