Marijuana legalization has been growing across the U.S., despite many concerns about the consequences this action will have in both the short and long-term nationwide. Now, another study has linked marijuana use to memory loss, giving legalization opponents more evidence that expanding marijuana use has definite dangers. When this new research is combined with other evidence, the indication is that marijuana, like other illicit substances is dangerous to users of all ages.
Verbal Memory Victim of Frequent Marijuana Use?
The recent study, which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, tracked the marijuana use of nearly 3,400 Americans over 25 years. All of the test subjects were given a battery of tests at the end of the study that were designed to measure cognitive abilities, including memory function. The researchers compared the test results to marijuana use of the subjects to determine whether there was any correlation between the two.
Researchers discovered that subjects that smoked marijuana daily for five years showed a decline in verbal memory function. These subjects were unable to remember as many words on a list as those that did not use marijuana. The amount of verbal memory decline appeared consistent with the amount of time the subjects smoked pot regularly, indicating the damage could be incremental.
Marijuana and the Hippocampus
The link between marijuana use and memory function appears to be linked to a portion of the brain known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area responsible for memory formation. Marijuana use seems to alter the way information is processed in the hippocampus, which in turn could impact a person’s memory storage and recollection.
Animal studies on pot use have found that rats exposed to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, had difficulty with cognitive and memory tasks later in life. The impairment observed is indicative of changes in the function of the hippocampus.
Short and Long-Term Effects of Marijuana
Beyond the studies of the impact of marijuana on cognitive function, the drug affects the body in many other ways. Short-term effects of marijuana include:
- Distortion of the senses
- Impaired motor coordination
- Lowered reactions and poor decision-making
- Accelerated heart rate, which can increase risk of heart attack
- Anxiety and panic
- Increased appetite
The long-term effects of marijuana can lead to damage to vital organs and body functions. These effects might include:
- Suppression of the immune system, vulnerability to common illnesses
- Reduction of male sex hormones, decreased sex drive and sexual dysfunction
- Damage to the lungs and brain, which can be permanent
- Inability to understand subjects clearly
- Extreme mood and personality changes
Contrary to what many in favor of marijuana legalization might say, marijuana can also be addictive for some users. Features of addiction, including needing more of the drug to get the same effects (tolerance) and strong cravings for the drug have been observed with some marijuana users.
Getting Help for Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana is a dangerous substance that can take a significant toll on the mind and body. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse, help is available today. Contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.