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Marijuana and the Indelible Effects on the Brain

By November 22, 2010April 27th, 2020No Comments
Adolescents comprise the largest proportion of...Image via Wikipedia

A study presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this past week, suggests that smoking marijuana as a teen can have long-lasting effects on the brain. In a recent USA Today article, they shared the results of the study, noting how it shows “people who start using marijuana at a young age have more cognitive shortfalls. Also, the more marijuana a person used in adolescence, the more trouble they had with focus and attention.”
     Staci Gruber, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School performed this study using 29 non-smokers and 35 chronic marijuana smokers, 20 of which began smoking before age 16 while the rest started after the age of 16. The smokers were quick in their ability to perform the sorting tasks in the study, but slow to recognize and correct error. They were also more impulsive than the non-smokers.  Gruber’s results also show “further evidence that marijuana use has a direct effect on executive function, and that both age of onset and magnitude of marijuana use can significantly influence cognitive processing.” These results are in line with what we already know about adolescent brain development, which is that the brain doesn’t fully mature until one is in their mid-20s. What complicates things is the natural lack of impulse control found in adolescents, risk-taking behaviors, and inevitable rebelliousness, some of which is due to brain development and some we can attribute to family dynamics as well as personality.
    The research and scientific evidence regarding the ill effects of drug use aren’t really surprising, at least not in the recovery community.  For some of us, this study makes perfect sense because it relates to our own reality of not being able to recall information we thought we knew, or because we’ve become slow in our ability to process new information.  For others, it’s logical information based on what we know about the brain and the debilitating effects drugs have on brain development.

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