What Does Marijuana Do to the Brain?
While the medical community is still unsure about marijuana’s effect on the brain, there is now a scientific statement aimed at helping health care professionals discuss the drug’s potential risks to brain development with patients. The statement was released by Dr. Fernando D. Testai, a professor of neurology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It outlines the risks of marijuana use and its potential benefits for brain health. sign up for medical marijuana card online jefferson county ny
Studies have shown that chronic marijuana use alters certain brain regions, including the orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus. These areas are critical for memory and learning, and marijuana use can disrupt their function. In addition, marijuana can affect the brain’s ability to coordinate movements and reduce IQ levels in adolescents. Moreover, cannabis affects the activity of the basal ganglia, the brain regions responsible for coordination and balance.
Researchers have found that marijuana use causes abnormalities in the brain’s reward system, which are especially important for heavy users. Heavy marijuana users, for example, report smoking five to seven times in a row. These users smoke more than 2,500 times over their lifetime. In one study, researchers found that heavy marijuana users were more likely to experience “neural noise” in their brains, which is a kind of random activity.
Cannabis users’ brains also undergo differences in structure, depending on their age. Adolescent marijuana users show similar changes to those of adults who use cannabis, suggesting that marijuana use during adolescence may be especially harmful. In fact, adolescents’ brains are still under construction until the early twenties, which means that exposure to cannabis during this period may be particularly detrimental. Further, drug use may increase the risk of substance abuse and psychiatric illness.
The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has shown to negatively impact executive functions, such as the ability to make decisions, remember, organize, solve problems, and control emotions. THC is fat-soluble, so it can be stored in the body and gradually released into the bloodstream for months, although the impact is still unclear. The AHA scientific statement is meant to help physicians understand this issue and talk to patients about it.
Many researchers have reported changes in the brain associated with chronic cannabis use. For instance, alterations in the amygdala and hippocampus have been associated with long-term cannabis use. In addition, changes in the brain’s volume have been linked to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Researchers continue to study the relationship between cannabis use and attention-deficit disorder. While the effects of marijuana on the brain are not always clear, some researchers suggest that it has significant benefits in improving executive and affective processing.
While marijuana has a calming effect, it can also be dangerous. Too much of the drug can impair brain function and can even threaten life. Treatment for marijuana addiction can help remove triggers and keep patients out of relapse. Various medications can help to reduce the cravings for Marijuana, and a detox process can rid the body of harmful toxins. Eventually, treatment will be aimed at restoring the body to a normal state.