Does Regular Weed Use Cause Permanent Brain Damage?
Marijuana intake is a common practice nowadays, and it is one of the most often used substances.
Although it has been viewed socially as a soft drug similar to alcohol with relatively little risk in its use (in fact, it has interesting properties that make it very useful at the medicinal level in various diseases and disorders), frequent use of this drug can have significant long-term adverse effects, particularly on the brain and its structure.
Does Weed Cause Permanent Brain Damage?
As recreational marijuana usage becomes legal throughout the United States, many people are curious about how marijuana affects the brain and if it destroys brain cells. Just as years of excessive alcohol, meth, and heroin use may cause irreparable brain damage, long-term marijuana use can impair brain cells’ capacity to communicate information (also known as brain activity). Marijuana usage can trigger brain cell destruction, resulting in various concomitant symptoms throughout the body.
Marijuana components, like other medicines, bind to specific receptors in the brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive element in marijuana, and it binds to the brain’s Cannabinoid receptors (officially known as Cannabinoid receptor type 1 or CB1). These receptors are linked to brain neurons that control memory, hunger, pain management, and mood.
When people consume marijuana, they may find it challenging to stay focused or recollect critical facts. Long-term Marijuana usage can exacerbate this, leading to issues such as impaired memory and focus. The medicine might also affect motor abilities. Users who choose to drive while high may imperil their own lives and the lives of others.
Short Term Effects of Marijuana Use
Cannabis has a variety of effects on various people. The effects will differ based on various circumstances, including the type and quantity of product utilized.
For some, the effects of cannabis include feeling “high,” having a sense of well-being, being cheerful, calm, or drowsy, and having a heightened perception of taste, smell, sound, and touch. Others may retreat and become silent, while others may feel bewilderment, anxiety, panic attacks, fearfulness, and paranoia.
Other immediate physical effects of cannabis include:
- Red eyes.
- Faster heart rate (which can be problematic for individuals who have heart issues).
- A reduction in blood pressure (which can lead people to faint).
People who use cannabis may also notice alterations in their perception of time and space around them. They may struggle with coordination, reasoning, focus, problem-solving, and memory.
Long Term Effects of Marijuana Use
Scientists are only now beginning to comprehend the complicated ways that long-term marijuana use affects the body. Still, studies indicate that it can create several health issues over time. For example, preliminary animal and human research indicate that smoking marijuana can suppress the immune system. Here are some potential health issues that may be connected to marijuana use.
THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the main element in marijuana, operates on cannabinoid receptors in brain areas that impact learning, memory, hunger, coordination, and pleasure.
Researchers are still learning about the long-term, chronic consequences of marijuana use on the brain. However, they believe the most significant impacts occur in young individuals who are still forming neuronal connections.
Compared to non-users, one study of teenagers discovered reduced neural connections in specific brain regions involved in a wide variety of executive processes such as memory, learning, and impulse control.
Teens who used marijuana regularly (daily for three years) had abnormalities in the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for long-term memory. According to the researchers, the longer (and more persistently) study participants smoked marijuana, the more aberrant the structure of their hippocampus became, resulting in poor long-term memory.
Reduced Performance and memory capacity
Various studies have shown that the frequent use of cannabis might eventually result in a decline in the intellectual ability of the individuals, with inferior performance and outcomes in various tests than a non-consumer individual.
However, numerous contradicting results have been reported in this form of cognitive competency, suggesting that this phenomenon may not be relevant.
There is substantial evidence that marijuana usage causes long-term issues with several forms of memory. These changes, for example, make it more challenging to transfer the contents of short-term memory to long-term memory.
It is crucial to highlight that these effects are most obvious in persons who take cannabis throughout their development phase, i.e., teenagers, due to the structural changes in the brain that cannabis usage may cause. This reduction is less pronounced in people who have already developed and begun to consume.
Chronic usage of high-potency marijuana has been linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia compared to persons who have never used the substance.
Younger persons in their twenties and thirties are more likely to develop psychosis after consuming marijuana. Heavy usage of marijuana in adolescence (especially in adolescent girls) has also been demonstrated to be a predictor of sadness and anxiety later on in a person’s life.
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana has the potential to be addictive, and chronic, long-term usage can result in cannabis use disorder. One out of every twelve marijuana users will get hooked on the substance. Some people live with marijuana addiction for years without realizing it before seeking assistance.
While coughing and colds are the most irritating and uncomfortable side effects of marijuana use, an increased chance of lung cancer is a potentially fatal one.
Marijuana smoke includes some of the same carcinogenic chemicals as tobacco smoke, but in higher amounts.
Given how marijuana is smoked (with the individual frequently holding their breath after inhaling it), it’s simple to see why, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may raise the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco.
What are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?
The Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test describes the following addiction characteristics:
- The user may be stoned for more than one or two hours every day.
- Once a person begins smoking marijuana, they may find it difficult to stop.
- The user may get stoned frequently enough that they miss finishing major tasks or making important commitments.
- The user may begin to devote a significant amount of time to purchasing, consuming, or recuperating from marijuana usage.
- The user may experience increased difficulties with attention or memory loss.
- While stoned, the user may begin to assume additional risks, like driving or caring for children.
- The user may begin to discuss reducing their marijuana consumption.
- After not using marijuana for a while, the user may experience withdrawal symptoms (such as desire, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, and sadness).
One of these qualities may not suggest an addiction on its own, but a pattern of actions may indicate a problem.
If you notice this pattern of behavior in yourself or someone you care about, seek help. Learn everything you can about marijuana usage, misuse, and the seriousness of addiction. It is critical to offer your loved one’s support and encouragement to receive the assistance they require. Discuss your concerns with a health care practitioner.
Marijuana use has numerous adverse effects on the individual and society as a whole. In the event that you suspect that you or your loved one might be addicted to marijuana, take action to aid your individual.