by Jo Ann Wentzel

This article is from 1999 and it seems to me the prediction the doctor made has become fact. The theory is by this time proven now and we should all take note of the excellent information.

Teens: I've heard you say "Just about everyone I know smokes, sniffs, snorts, or shoots up." You say, "Drugs are not addictive."  You add "I can stop anytime I feel like it."

If I could tell you something you probably don't know would you at least listen and maybe reconsider the danger of doing drugs? Give me a chance I can prove one of the major problems with kids using drugs.

Of course, there is that danger you will overdose and die. That's a pretty severe consequence, I'm sure you'll admit. There is a possibility if you use shared needles you could contract AIDS or be exposed to other diseases. Some drugs really are addictive and can ruin a person's life.  Right? Drugs like alcohol can affect almost all organs and cause physical damage to your body. The problem with a constant desire for the drug may lead to illegal activities. These are well - known problems and results of drug use. But, that still is not what I want to talk to you about.

For a moment, let's take a mental journey through your future. What is it you wish to be when you grow up? Does medicine excite you? Do you wish to discover scientific or technological advances? Do you want to win the Nobel Peace Prize or maybe your ideal would be the Pulitzer Prize? I hope you believe in yourself enough to have goals. I hope you realize you have the freedom to attain them. Maybe your goals are not so lofty as these are, but you want to complete college with good grades or run a successful business and make money. No matter what your future holds for you, there is one thing all of these dreams have in common. It is living up to your full potential. Oh no, not this again, you're saying. Please let me continue.

Living up to your full potential means using every gift God has given you, especially the brain. The brain is a wonderful, amazing organ. It can hold a wealth of information, more than any computer ever will. It can expand and learn as it goes along. It is said, most people only use a small portion of their brainpower. If you want to be among the best at anything you choose, you must only reach out for what you want to achieve and then use every ability you have to reach that goal.

Recently, I listened to Dr. Wilkie Wilson, a brain researcher from Duke University and co-author of a wonderful book entitled, Buzzed. An example he used to introduce this problem, is that it is well known that a bird has a very tiny brain. Even with this small- sized brain a bird can do everything it needs to do. It can fly, build a nest, procreate, eat, and hunt. Now, think of the size of a human brain. Some of us do little more than the bird, but we are capable of so much more. That is if we refrain from using drugs while young.

 According to Dr. Wilson, "Brain development is clearly not complete until the late teens and up to early 20's adults. The frontal lobes are among the last to develop." This is proven. He adds, "The frontal lobes allow complex planning and execution of activities by allowing a person to hold several ideas in play at one time. They also inhibit impulsive activity and have many, many other properties that allow for higher level of intellectual performance that distinguishes us from animals. Dr. Wilson says he is just learning about this and points out there are few studies of adolescents.

Dr. Wilson says if you use marijuana on the weekends and once during the week you are almost always under the influence. The high only lasts a couple of hours and then is gone. People think the effect is gone, but it just is not so.

The theory is speculation at this point, but many things indicate this is what might happen. It is proven the adolescent brain is not fully developed. The brain needs learning chemistry to work properly for healthy development to occur. (This is partially proven.) It is verified that marijuana impairs some kinds of learning and that it lasts a very long time in the body. Thus an adolescent that smokes marijuana frequently MAY be putting brain development at risk. And this could mean the brain is not 'wired' properly. This part of the theory has not been completely proven, but there are many indications this is the case.

God wishes us success and wants us to be all we can be, so we should not knowingly do anything to jeopardize that goal. If we prevent our brain from developing the way it should, we lessen our chances at life. We will be responsible for holding ourselves back since we will be unable to think or function as we would without the addition of drugs. The research is all heading in this direction and pointing to the actual difference in the way a brain exposed to regular drug use is 'wired.' If the 'wiring is faulty,' we can become lots of things, but not the best we could have become. Is that a risk you are willing to take?