The addictive qualities of marijuana and the drug’s negative side effects are often brushed aside by people who assume that because of legalization in many states, risks are minimal (or non-existent). Just because something is legal doesn’t make unfettered use a perfectly safe idea. Some people worry more about their cholesterol intake than their use of cannabis. While both substances can interfere with overall health, only cannabis changes brain chemistry. It’s important, for example, to better understand the connection between marijuana and memory.
Like all psychoactive drugs, marijuana interacts within the brain to create the feeling of being high. Sustained use of this drug can lead to physical and psychological addiction, which affects about 14 million Americans every year. If you or someone you know abuses cannabis and cannot seem to quit, marijuana addiction rehab in Pennsylvania is a safe and effective choice for starting recovery. Reach out to learn more from Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) about cannabis abuse, the long-term effects of marijuana, or the cannabis brain fog that can, in many cases, become permanent memory loss. Call today at 844.442.8673 or use our online form to connect with someone on the staff.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana has short-term effects that produce a euphoric high that temporarily mutes stress and anxiety. Chronic users may experience long-lasting health consequences that are concerning. The younger someone is when they begin using marijuana, the more of a lasting effect the drug can have, especially on the brain, since the brain is still developing until the early 20s.
A few decades ago, THC levels in marijuana were below 4%. They are now more than 15%. No one really knows yet what the long-term effects of the current high-potency cannabis will be as no longitudinal studies have been completed. Teen cannabis use is the most potentially damaging to brain structures, though memory loss and other effects seem to occur among people of all ages.
Below is a list of some of the known long-term effects of marijuana use:
The respiratory tract is continuously irritated when someone is a chronic marijuana smoker. A chronic cough, as well as becoming prone to lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, are common.
Severe nausea and vomiting
Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is rare but can be caused by overexposure to marijuana and is a cyclic, chronic problem when it is present.
Risk of testicular cancer
There are links between adolescent use of cannabis and a serious form of testicular cancer.
Fetal brain development
Children who were exposed to THC while in utero are more likely to have delayed fetal brain development and other issues with attention and cognitive skills.
Mental health disorders
There is an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia for people who have a genetic predisposition. For people with pre-existing schizophrenia, marijuana use often exacerbates symptoms.
Brain development in adolescents
Heavy use of marijuana prior to age 18 directly impacts brain development, including effects on learning, impulse control, and memory.
Marijuana and Memory
The main chemical found in marijuana is THC. It attaches to brain receptors that are integral to memory formation in regions like the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and amygdala. The psychoactivity of marijuana includes interfering with working memory, thinking, executive function, and motor coordination linked to thinking (like driving, chopping vegetables, or playing the guitar).
Since short-term memory formation directly connects to the way the brain lays down long-term memory, there may be a link between THC and long-term memory issues.
Marijuana Treatment at PAATC
If you are concerned about the long-term effects of marijuana and the links between marijuana and memory challenges, reach out to speak to one of our staff. We provide inpatient and outpatient rehab options that offer comprehensive programs supported by evidence-based therapy.