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Youth of Himachal should pay attention to this new research on effects of marijuana use during adolescence

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Boys who started occasionally using cannabis around 15 or 16 years old and had a dramatic increase in use by the time they were 19 had the greatest dysfunction in brain reward circuitry, the highest rates of depression and the lowest educational achievements.

Shimla – How an adolescent uses marijuana, in particular, a pattern of escalating use, may make an adolescent more prone to higher rates of depression and lower educational accomplishments by the time they reach adulthood. Those findings come from a new study led by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology published today in the journal Addiction.

The drug menace among the adolescents and youth of Himachal Pradesh is on an alarming level. The recent case of gruesome rape and murder of a school girl in Kotkhai region of Shimla district is being associated with increased substance and drug abuse among youth. Now the substance abuse is not limited only to smoking marijuana. A variety of synthetic drugs are consuming the youth of Himachal. Unfortunately, school children nowadays are exposed to drugs at a very tender age.

More unfortunate is the fact that even the most prestigious schools in Himachal don’t want to spend on services of professional child psychologists to deal with it in the proper way. The State Education Department is also in deep slumber and representatives of people are busy in politics.

Meanwhile, a section of youth in Himachal favors marijuana believing it is not a drug. They believe it cast a lesser negative impact on their brains. While smoking, its users often hold unofficial debates in enclosed groups advocating legalisation of marijuana in Himachal. The adolescents here should pay special attention to findings of this new research before they fall into this trap.

According to Erika Forbes, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics, and lead author of the study,

We know that cannabis use in adolescence is associated with outcomes like lower educational level, and difficulties with mood and depression, but through this long-term study, we’ve been able to provide a much deeper insight into this relationship, showing that certain characteristics of use may be more important than others.

The researcher further adds,

The findings highlight that understanding marijuana use across the entire period of adolescence, which we know is an extremely vulnerable developmental phase, may tell us much more about detrimental long-term impacts than knowing about overall or one time use,

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Researchers analyzed 158 boys and young men from Pittsburgh who were part of The Pitt Mother & Child Project (PMCP), a long-running longitudinal study of males at high risk for antisocial behavior and other psychopathology based on low income, family size and child gender, led by Daniel Shaw, Ph.D., distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

At age 20, the young men self-reported annual cannabis use characteristics for every year since they started use during an interview. Each man’s brain was also scanned using fMRI to assess functional connectivity in the brain’s reward circuit. The study participants completed questionnaires at ages 20 and 22 that examined psychosocial outcomes measuring depression and educational attainment.

The researchers analyzed frequency of cannabis use from ages 14 to 19 to determine the relationship between use during adolescence and psychosocial outcomes. In an unexpected finding, boys who started occasionally using cannabis around 15 or 16 years old and had a dramatic increase in use by the time they were 19 had the greatest dysfunction in brain reward circuitry, the highest rates of depression and the lowest educational achievements.

We expected to see that the young men who had a high, consistent level of marijuana use would have differences in brain function. However, it turned out that those who had an increasing pattern of use over their teens had the biggest differences,

Forbes added.

Though the results do not show a direct causal link, it’s important to note that even though most people think marijuana isn’t harmful, it may have severe consequences for some people’s functioning, education and mood,

Forbes said.

While that may seem unimportant at age 20, the level of education you receive will likely have a huge effect on your quality of life and socioeconomic status later in adulthood.

Additional authors on this research are Sarah D. Lichenstein, M.S., Samuel Musselman, B.S., Daniel S. Shaw, Ph.D., and Stephanie Sitnick, Ph.D., all of Pitt.

Photo: Mental Healthy.co.uk

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HP By-Polls 2021: Silence Period Extended to Three Days

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Shimla-The campaigning period during Himachal Pradesh by-elections has been fixed from 10 am to 7 pm every day. The silence period has been extended from two days to three days before the closing date of voting, which will start after 6 pm on 27th October 2021.

During the no active campaigning by the candidates or political parties is allowed, and television or any digital media cannot carry any election-related matter.

This information was released by Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, C. Paulrasu. He said that the Election Commission of India has limited the period of campaigning during by-election 2021 in view of the guidelines issued for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has urged all the candidates and political parties participating in the by-elections of Mandi Parliamentary Constituency and Fatehpur, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Arki Assembly Constituencies to comply with these guidelines related to the election campaign.

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity Scholar Naincy Bags Scholarship to Pursue PhD in France

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Solan: Naincy Sagar, an alumna of Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has bagged a fellowship for pursuing PhD from France. Nancy has reached France and will be pursuing PhD in Forest Genetics from the University of Orléans under INRAE fellowship. INRAE is France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Naincy has completed her BSc Forestry from College of Horticulture and Forestry (COH&F), Neri in 2018 and MSc Forest Biology and Tree Improvement and Genetic Resources from UAS, Dharwad, under ICAR’s National Talent Scheme. Before leaving for France last week, Naincy was working as a Junior Research Fellow in a research project at COH&F, Neri.

She had applied for a PhD with a scholarship in Forest Genetics which was advertised by INRAE. Naincy was successful in the interview and was awarded a fellowship for three years for pursuing PhD at the University of Orléans. During the course of the PhD, she will receive a total scholarship of around Rs 70 lakh along with medical reimbursement. Naincy will be working on forest tree larch species in the Project titled ‘Vigour at what cost? ‘Trade-off’ of hybrid vigour in Larch-Phenological, morphological and physiological determinants of hybrid superiority in Larix X eurolepis’ with a team of 20 scientists of Joint Integrated Biology Research Unit having expertise in genetics, genomics and physiology for the enhancement of tree and forest diversity

Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor of the university spoke to Naincy via web conferencing and congratulated her. Dr. Kaushal, who has also done his doctorate from France, shared some tips and suggestions. He asked Naincy to explore this opportunity to learn about new cultures along with doing research that could help to enhance and conserve forest wealth in the future.

Naincy expressed gratitude towards her father Satya Prakash Sagar (Retd. SDO BSNL) and mother Monika Sagar, who is working as SDO in BSNL for their continuous support for higher studies. She also thanked Vice-Chancellor Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Dean Dr. Kamal Sharma and Dr. Dushyant Sharma, Project Investigator and all the university staff for their support and guidance. The university administration, Dean of COH&F Neri congratulated Naincy and wished her success.  

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Bad Weather Warning for Himachal, Tourists and Locals Advised Not to Venture into Higher Hills

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Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted heavy to very heavy rains for middle and lower hills on October 17th and 18th. The Met has also issued orange and yellow alerts for various districts.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall has been predicted in higher hills and advisory has been issued for both locals and tourists to avoid travelling to higher hills.

While a yellow alert with a prediction of thunderstorms and lightning at isolated places has been issued for Una and Hamirpur district on October 17, an orange alert with a prediction of heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, lightning and hailstorm at isolated places has been issued for Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur.

For October 18, a yellow alert has been issued for Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Chamba, and Kullu districts and an orange alert for the remaining districts.

The Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, warned that in view of the Met Department’s forecast for the next two days, locals and tourists should avoid Manali-Leh National Highway (NH-03) and refrain from venturing into higher hills.

In case, travel is unavoidable due to some compelling circumstances, such candidates have been asked to confirm weather and road conditions on given telephone numbers, which are 9459661355, 01900-202509, 510, 517 and 1077.

The DC also informed that in case of any emergency, people should contact the District Disaster Management Cell, Lahaul-Spiti, on 01900 202509, 510, 517, and Tall Free -1077.

The weather is predicted to be dry on October 19 and 20. 

Feature Photo: Photo by Rodrigo Souza from Pexels

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