Many people view smoking marijuana as one of the lesser drugs you can become addicted to. The purported beneficial side effects outweigh any potential negative associated with harder drug abuse. With marijuana quickly becoming legalized across the United States, people that were originally reluctant to try it due to legal ramifications might be more inclined to try it.
Other drugs like alcohol, meth, and heroin have shown to cause irreversible brain damage if left unchecked, and studies surrounding prolonged marijuana use remain scarce. However, these potential new users should try to find the answer to one critical question that has followed regular cannabis use for years — does smoking marijuana kill brain cells?
How Does Marijuana Affect Your Brain Chemistry?
Our brain chemistry is a complex subject with various mysteries still being studied by the medical and scientific communities. However, what we do know is that regular drug use does have a noticeable impact on your brain’s chemical makeup. Different drugs rewrite your reactions to specific actions and release more dopamine when you perform that action.
The more you partake in a certain vice, the more your brain will associate that activity with a positive outcome — in the process, rewriting your brain chemistry. While long-term studies on cannabis use aren’t as common as other substances, the studies that have been conducted show that prolonged usage can have a noticeable impact on your brain activity.
The psychoactive chemical in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which attaches itself to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. These connect to nerves in the brain responsible for memory, appetite, pain regulation, and mood.
What Does the Science Say?
When it comes to the long-term effects that regular marijuana use has on brain chemistry and development, the studies aren’t there to make definitive claims one way or the other. However, there does seem to be a correlation between cannabis users, ongoing brain development, and decreased IQs later in life.
People under the age of 25 have a potentially higher risk of experiencing these negative effects marijuana has on brain chemistry while their brains are still in the development stages. Some studies have shown that regular marijuana use in your teenage years can significantly decrease your IQ points in middle age.
What About Synthetic Weed?
In recent years, the popularity of “synthetic weed” has dramatically increased based on the promise that you get the same high as natural marijuana without it appearing on a tox screen. However, this artificial substance causes a significantly stronger reaction in your brain, and the resulting side effects can prove far more intense and harmful for substance abusers.
Synthetic marijuana has far fewer studies conducted than its natural counterparts, but the higher potency can lead to harder-to-break addictions and more adverse effects on your brain.
The Long-Term Effects of Regular Marijuana Use
While everyone knows that regular cannabis users often have increased appetites, trouble remembering, and paranoia in the short term, the long-term effects shouldn’t go unnoticed. These complications can include:
- Signs of cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
- Increased tolerance
- Notable dependency
Find a Marijuana Addiction Treatment Center in Mahanoy City, PA, Today!
While many recreational users may see their regular cannabis as something that they don’t need to seek help from, there are potential long-term side effects that they should consider. While the scientific research may not definitively prove that their prolonged use kills brain cells, the research that has been done does show a correlation between the drug’s impact on young people while their brain is still developing.
Provide your teenagers and young adults with a space where they can talk about their experiences with marijuana and receive the help and support they need to recover before the potential long-term side effects can cause lasting damage. Silver Pines Treatment Center has the substance abuse treatment programs you need to get the necessary support to make a positive change in your life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addition, contact our team to learn more about our programs and admissions procedures.