Update on: Amanda Bynes

Oh what a difference a few months can make!

Just last July, former Nickelodeon actress Amanda Bynes, 28, was making headlines for all the wrong reasons- DUI’s, bizarre episodes on neighbor’s lawns, and an involuntary hold at a psychiatric facility. Fortunately, her parents assumed legal control and got her the help she so desperately needed. Discharged from the hospital in December, she is now living at home with her parents and is enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Orange County, CA. She hopes one day to have her own fashion line.

During that tumultuous period, it was speculated that Amanda might be suffering from some kind of mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Now Amanda wants to dispel this rumor as false. Speaking through her attorney, Tamar Arminak, Amanda wants everyone to know that she has not been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Overuse of marijuana was what was causing her behavior problems.

“Amanda currently is on zero medication. She’s devoted to living her life as healthy as possible. She’s never had a history of abusing alcohol or hard drugs, and she’s proud to say she’s been marijuana-free for the past nine months.”

“She continues to undergo outpatient therapy several times a week. She’s still working through the causes of her past bizarre behavior.”

Amanda mother, Lynn, says that Amanda is “very sorry for all the hurtful tweets, statements and actions that occurred while she was under the influence of marijuana,” and adds “We’re so proud of how far Amanda has come.”

So are we. Keep it up Amanda!

14 Things to I Should Know about Marijuana

1.  Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which contains the psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as other related compounds.

2.  Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States.

3.  After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has been increasing among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks that may be associated with increased public debate over the drug’s legal status.

4.  When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.

marijuana5.  THC acts on specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC that naturally occur in the body (such as anandamide; see picture, right) and are part of a neural communication network called the endocannabinoid system. This system plays an important role in normal brain development and function.

6.  The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

7.  Marijuana over-activates the endocannabinoid system, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

8.  Marijuana affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent.

9.  Marijuana smoke is an irritant to the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections.

10.  A number of studies have linked chronic marijuana use and mental illness. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users, and using marijuana can worsen the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia.

11.  Associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities.

12.  The amount of THC in marijuana samples confiscated by police has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. In 2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s.

13.  Contrary to common belief, marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people who use marijuana daily (to 25-50 percent).

14. Heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to non-marijuana-using peers.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

Many have called for the legalization of marijuana to treat conditions including pain and nausea caused by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other conditions, but clinical evidence has not shown that the therapeutic benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its health risks. To be considered a legitimate medicine by the FDA, a substance must have well-defined and measurable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next. As the marijuana plant contains hundreds of chemical compounds that may have different effects and that vary from plant to plant, and because the plant is typically ingested via smoking, its use as a medicine is difficult to evaluate.

However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of other chemicals found in the cannabis plant—such as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound that is being studied for its effects at treating pain, pediatric epilepsy, and other disorders. For more information, see DrugFacts – Is Marijuana Medicine?

Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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