Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells? | Recovery By The Sea

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells? – Marijuana intervenes with how neurons in the brain send, receive, and process signals through neurochemicals. Marijuana use has also been associated with some functional abnormalities in the brain. But does marijuana kill brain cells? What is the risk of incurring adverse effects on mental health and cognitive ability?

How Marijuana Interferes With The Brain

Experts do not believe that marijuana use damages or destroys brain cells. However, marijuana effects on the brain can be many, including the inhibition of short-term memories, distorting the perception of time, and regulating appetite. THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, interferes with cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

After a user ingests marijuana, it’s chemicals make their way into the bloodstream, which carries these different substances throughout the body. Also, cannabis contains molecules that are similar to those produced in the brain, known as cannabinoids. Once THC reaches the brain, it binds to these receptors, which are then directly affected by the chemical.

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana on the Brain

Memory Inhibition

One of the most notorious short-term effects of marijuana on the brain is that chronic marijuana users may find it hard to recall certain recent events. The reason for this is that marijuana has an inhibitory effect on the hippocampus, a region of the brain.

The hippocampus is responsible for the formation of memories. THC comes into contact with the hippocampus and disrupts activity, which can result in short-term memory problems.

Distorted Perception of Time

One of the most commonly reported effects that marijuana has on the brain is a distorted perception of time. This phenomenon occurs because of marijuana’s impact on the cerebellum and altered blood flow to that region of the brain. The cerebellum is located in the lower back portion of the skull, which controls, among other functions, the internal timing system.

Appetite Regulator

Marijuana is known to increase appetite dramatically, also referred to as “the munchies.” Marijuana impacts the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates appetite.

Therefore, excessive eating after the ingestion of marijuana should not come as a surprise to those who are using. However, how the drug is consumed also affects how much a person’s appetite will be affected. For example, those who know how to make marijuana tea properly can help control their appetite.

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells? | Recovery By The Sea

Talkativeness and Laughter

Talkativeness and an enhanced sense of humor are common after marijuana use. During a marijuana high, the brain releases dopamine, which is associated with feelings of well-being and reward. Due to these effects, laughter and sociability may become more natural.

Drowsiness

One of the short-term effects of marijuana is drowsiness. It has an impact on cannabinoid receptors in the brain and can result in the promotion of sleep. As with most other effects, THC is what causes this feeling of drowsiness.

Coordination and Reaction Time

Marijuana can adversely affect both the coordination and reaction times of its user. This effect occurs because THC impacts both the cerebellum and basal ganglia, meaning brain signals are affected similarly to when a person is drunk. This is one reason why driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited, just like with alcohol.

THC makes the user less coordinated in nearly every aspect, and properly walking and talking may become challenging. Research has also found that marijuana users were unaware of their coordination problems and mistakes made while they were under the influence.

Long-Term Effects Of Marijuana On The Brain

An increasing number of studies in humans reveal the potential long-term effects of marijuana on the brain. Although cannabis use doesn’t appear to produce structural damage, a marijuana overdose can result in a reduction in mental focus over time.

In 2001, Harvard University researchers examined the cognitive performance of persons that had ingested marijuana and also after they stopped. The study revealed that marijuana use does not create permanent mental impairment. A study by the University of Colorado Boulder (2015) also found that people who used cannabis did not show signs of physical changes in the vital brain regions.

Instead, marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain may include the following:

Decline in IQ

Research has suggested that smoking marijuana can irreversibly lower IQ, and may be one of the most detrimental effects of cannabis on adolescents. Excessive marijuana users may incur an average of an 8 point reduction, and this may be enough to have an adverse impact on a person’s life.

Much-publicized research related to a study of 1000 young people in New Zealand yielded this result. For the analysis, subjects were given IQ tests in early adolescence and again when they were 38 years old.

Researchers discovered that those who were dependent on marijuana by their 18th birthday, and also continued to use excessively, had on an average loss of eight IQ points by the time of retesting.

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells? | Recovery By The Sea

Addiction

The development of problematic use, often referred to as marijuana use disorder, is one of marijuana’s many effects on the brain. In severe cases, it can result in the development of addiction. Moreover, when a person cannot stop using marijuana despite the adverse affects their life, addiction has manifested.

The reward system in the brain consists of neural structures that are responsible for emotions, pleasure, and reward. Marijuana activates the system by reinforcing stimuli, leading to repetitive use and addictive behavior.

Mental Health Risks

The use of marijuana does come with some mental health risks. Indeed, research has revealed a clear link between marijuana use and mental health. A person who starts using cannabis at an early age is more likely to experience mental health difficulties. Some of the mental health conditions that have been associated with the use of marijuana are anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Regions of the Brain Affected by Marijuana

The amygdala is a region of the brain that is affected by marijuana. This effect can play a role in feelings of unease, irritability, and anxiety. These can occur even after a cannabis high subsides. Substance abuse makes this part of the brain increasingly sensitive.

The basal ganglia plays a crucial role in pleasure and other forms of motivation. Marijuana’s impact on the brain causes this reward circuit to adjust to the presence of marijuana. This effect results in reduced sensitivity to other potential rewards and makes it difficult to feel pleasure from other activities that don’t involve marijuana use.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for essential abilities, such as thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, and self-control. The effect of weed on this circuit results in increased impulsivity, which can lead to risky, poorly-planned decisions.

Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

Recovering from marijuana dependence is best achieved with professional help. Recovery By The Sea is a specialized and accredited addiction treatment facility that is warm, comforting, and supportive of the recovery process. Our programs feature evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

Our center is located just minutes from the beautiful beaches of Stuart, FL, which was recently voted among the top 50 most beautiful small towns in America.

If you are ready to break free from the vicious cycle of substance abuse, contact us today to discuss treatment options!

⟹READ THIS NEXT: Cons of Marijuana Use

Cons of Marijuana Use

Cons of Marijuana

Cons of Marijuana Use – Marijuana is the dried and ground or shredded leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds of the cannabis plant. As with other substances, marijuana use can result in both positive and adverse effects.

Many of marijuana’s effects are acute, meaning that they last for only a brief period. Other effects are longer-term and may not manifest for some time.

Traditionally, marijuana is ingested by smoking. However, cannabis can also be used in the following ways:

  • Vaping
  • Used as part of an oil
  • Brewed as a tea
  • Cooked into food such as brownies

Many people use marijuana for medicinal purposes, either legally or illicitly. However, no drug comes without risks, and there are cons of marijuana use that, for some, may outweigh the benefits.

Physical Effects of Marijuana on the Body

Some of the most common physical health effects from marijuana use include the following:

  • A higher likelihood of developing a cough with phlegm and bronchitis from smoking
  • Lung irritation from irritants including some carcinogens
  • A weakened immune system caused by the effects of THC
  • Accelerated heart rate by up to 50 beats per minute
  • Red eyes from increased blood flow
  • Exacerbation of pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma
  • potential interference with tumor growth
  • Interference with fetal development during pregnancy
  • Interference with brain development among adolescents

When people use it for medical purposes, marijuana may be beneficial for the following:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation associated with certain medical conditions
  • Helping with glaucoma
  • Reducing nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy

Cons of Marijuana Use | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Marijuana Effects on Brain and Body

Some of the most common effects associated with marijuana include the following:

  • Dopamine induced feelings of pleasure
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Increased or reduced depression symptoms
  • Increased or reduced anxiety symptoms
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making
  • Memory impairment
  • Symptoms of withdrawal after long-term use
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Temporary paranoia and hallucinations
  • Dependence and addiction, in some cases

How Marijuana Can Affect Youths

Children and teens are much more susceptible to the potential adverse effects of marijuana. For example, when a mother uses marijuana during pregnancy, the baby may develop memory and concentration problems as they grow.

Breastfeeding mothers who use marijuana may be exposing their baby to potentially harmful effects. For these reasons, women should avoid using marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Marijuana can also impact the brain development of older children and teenagers. This effect can result in memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and impaired problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, research suggests that, for those under the age of 25, marijuana use may impair memory and learning.

Long-Term Marijuana Effects

The long-term effects of marijuana use depend on several factors, including a person’s age when they begin using and the frequency and amount of use.

Long-term effects depend on several factors, including the following:

  • Method of use (e.g., smoking)
  • How often it is used
  • Amount used
  • The potency of THC in the marijuana ingested
  • Existence of mental health disorders
  • The age of the person using it

Some potential long-term effects include the following:

  • Focus and memory impairment
  • Chronic lung irritation
  • Exacerbation of other lung conditions
  • Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome

Marijuana Use Disorder

Regular marijuana consumption can result in the development of problematic use, also known as a marijuana use disorder. In extreme cases, this can take on the form of addiction. Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may suffer from some degree of marijuana use disorder. Young people who begin using marijuana before age 18 are up to 7 times more likely to experience a marijuana use disorder than those who do not use until after adulthood.

Chronic marijuana abusers often report experiencing the following:

  • Irritability and agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Decreased appetite
  • Drug cravings
  • Restlessness

These symptoms begin within 2-3 days, peak within the first week after quitting, and may persist for up to 2 weeks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “marijuana dependence occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.”

Marijuana use disorder has developed into an addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug despite its interference with many aspects of life. Estimates of the number of those who are addicted to marijuana remain controversial, however. This is because studies related to substance use often use the concept of dependence interchangeably with that of addiction, although it is possible to be dependent on a substance without becoming addicted.

That said, studies suggest that 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This number increases to about 17% among those who start using in their teenage years.

In 2015, around four million people in the U.S. met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder. Of those,138,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their marijuana use.

Cons of Marijuana: Withdrawal

Cons of Marijuana Use | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Although some believe that marijuana dependence is not possible, studies have proven that it is. However, it does have a much lower occurrence rate than with many other drugs of abuse.

Marijuana use disorders are often linked to dependence. Dependence results in the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using the drug. The younger a person starts experimenting with marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent upon it.

Some symptoms of marijuana withdrawal syndrome include:

  • Headaches
  • Chills and fever
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Shakiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Daytime tiredness

Cons of Marijuana: Overdose

An overdose of marijuana is not thought to have the potential to be fatal. However, excessive use can result in severe symptoms. Some people who have a mental illness or are ingesting other substances, such as heroin, alcohol, or cocaine, may also have a higher risk of experiencing extreme effects.

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Very elevated heart rate
  • Severe headache
  • Pale skin
  • Paranoia and panic attacks
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Fainting

Symptoms like the ones mentioned above should not be disregarded under any circumstances. Do not let the fact the symptoms originated from cannabis dissuade you from seeking help for yourself or someone else.

Of note, a New Orleans coroner recently made the news, stating that he determined that a 39-year woman, who died in February 2019, succumbed to the first-ever marijuana overdose reported in the U.S.

The official cause of death was THC. In an autopsy report, Coroner Dr. Christy Montegut claimed that THC was the only drug in the deceased woman’s system. Montegut explained that “her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death” and that “there was nothing else.”

Skeptics, such as University of Toronto professor Bernard Le Foll, disagreed. He argued that the THC levels recorded were “not very high” and hardly a fatal dose.

Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

Although addiction to marijuana may be relatively uncommon, there is no question that many people find themselves in its grips and unable to quit. For some, professional treatment may be the best option.

Recovery By The Sea offers specialized treatment for marijuana abuse and addiction. Our comprehensive programs include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Our treatments are aimed at treating the whole person, not just the addiction itself.

If you or someone you know is struggling to stop using marijuana, contact us today! We can help you free yourself from the chains of addiction for life!

How Long Does a Marijuana High Last?

How Long Does a Marijuana High Last? | Recovery By The Sea

How Long Does a Marijuana High Last? – A typical high caused by smoking marijuana lasts about two hours. Ingesting marijuana, however, can trigger a high that lasts longer, perhaps up to 6 hours. Either way, psychomotor impairments may persist after the initial effects have subsided. These include altered perception of time, impaired hand and eye coordination, and gaps in memory.

The effects of smoking marijuana are usually noticeable within a few minutes after the first use, and peak after about 30 minutes. Most effects of marijuana will return to normal within five hours after the last use, but particularly potent strains may induce effects for up to 24 hours.

The duration of the high hinges on several factors, including tolerance. For example, a person who uses marijuana daily will not experience a high for as long as someone who uses it only occasionally.

Effects of a Marijuana High

Various effects can occur during a high, which vary in their intensity and nature. Among the most common effects of marijuana is an increase in sensations and clarity of perception. Visual perception can be altered, colors appear brighter, and patterns are more easily recognizable.

Other possible effects of a marijuana high include the following:

  • Increased appetite
  • Changes in pain perception
  • Altered time perception
  • Intensified sense of taste, smell, and hearing
  • Greater sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure receptors
  • Objects appear more visually well-defined

How Does Marijuana Act on the Brain?

How Long Does a Marijuana High Last? | Recovery By The Sea

The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive agent that induces marijuana’s effects. THC achieves this by attaching to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. Once there, it interferes with chemicals involved in cognition, motor skills, and other physiological processes.

Certain regions of the brain, including the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and the cerebral cortex, have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors. When a person uses marijuana, the following functions may be affected:

  • Concentration
  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Pleasure
  • Sensory information processing
  • Perception of time

Additionally, a person using marijuana may also become hyperaware of regular, automatic movements, as well as motor control processes. However, the effects of cannabis on a person’s mood can vary from person to person and will depend on the strain.

In general, emotions may be muted or exaggerated, which can cause the user to act inappropriately or strangely in otherwise normal situations.

Mental Effects

Marijuana effects are dependent on several factors related to the method of administration and the drug’s quality in general. For example, if marijuana is consumed orally, effects will be milder but will persist for several hours. Keep in mind that a first-time marijuana user may not experience the same effects as a chronic user.

Common mental effects of THC include the following:

  • Mood changes
  • Impaired memory
  • Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills

High dose THC strains may also induce hallucinations and delusions—psychosis. In fact, chronic marijuana use has been associated with mental illness among some users, with effects such as transient hallucinations, paranoia, and a worsening of symptoms in users with schizophrenia.

Furthermore, marijuana use has been linked to other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Whether use itself causes or exacerbates these problems is not clear.

Physical Effects

Acute physical effects of marijuana use include accelerated heart rate and either elevated or lowered blood pressure. These symptoms occur because, within a few minutes after marijuana is inhaled, a person’s heart rate speeds up, and the breathing passages loosen and become enlarged. The heart rate may increase by 20-50 beats per minute or more. Additionally, blood vessels in the eyes dilate, making them appear bloodshot.

The main body effects of marijuana include:

  • Head rush or dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Slowed digestion

Long-term effects include problems related to the cardiovascular system. For example, marijuana raises the heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect increases the risk of a heart attack. Older people and those who have heart problems may be at a higher risk.

Other problems related to long-term marijuana use may include:

Breathing Difficulties

Marijuana smoke irritates lungs, and people who smoke marijuana chronically can have similar breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These problems include persistent cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and an increased risk of lung infections.

Intense Nausea and Vomiting

Although rare, marijuana can cause a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. This condition is characterized by regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. If severe enough, this condition may require emergency medical attention.

How Long Does a Marijuana High Last? | Recovery By The Sea

Factors That Influence Effects

One major factor that will influence the effects of marijuana is the strain used. Some strains affect the brain and body more than others. Still, the way cannabis affects a person will largely depend on individual factors, both physical and psychological, including the following:

  • Age, height, and weight
  • General health status
  • Amount of THC in the dose
  • Level of tolerance
  • Presence of other substances
  • Environment
  • Method of administration
  • Personal expectations
  • Previous marijuana use

Time in the Body

THC reaches the bloodstream quite rapidly after marijuana is smoked. If marijuana is consumed orally, it takes longer to be absorbed into the blood—usually from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Once in the blood, THC is rapidly broken down into dozens of molecules known as metabolites. The majority of THC (65%) is excreted through feces, while over 30% leaves the body through the urine.

In urine, THC can be detected up to 3 days after the last dose of marijuana.
Chronic use, however, can be detected weeks or months after last use. As with other drugs, the time that marijuana can be detected in hair follicles is a minimum of 90 days.

When marijuana is ingested, some of the marijuana metabolites are stored in the fatty tissues. This effect is why marijuana use can be detected for more extended periods in chronic, regular users. Rather than being highly water-soluble, the metabolites remain in fat cells and are slowly released over time.

Consequences of Marijuana Abuse

Compared to individuals who don’t use marijuana, those who frequently smoke marijuana in excessive amounts report lower overall life satisfaction, more relationship issues, and poorer mental and physical health in general.

Marijuana users also report poorer academic and career success. For example, marijuana use has been associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. And, it has also been linked to more job absenteeism, accidents, and injuries.

Signs of Marijuana Use Disorder

One of the first signs of a problem is dependence. Many people who use marijuana for a long time and attempt to quit report withdrawal symptoms that discourage them from stopping. These symptoms include the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia and nightmares

Another sign is that a person can no longer control their use. It’s estimated that nearly one-third of regular users are at least psychologically addicted.

Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

In general, marijuana abuse and addiction aren’t considered to be as serious as many other substance addictions, such as cocaine, heroin, or meth. That said, marijuana use can be harmful to one’s health and well-being. It can also cause other problems in life, such as relationship strain and difficulties with work or school.

If you believe you have an addiction to marijuana and find it difficult to quit on your own, contact us today to discuss treatment options! We can help you stop the cycle of drug abuse and foster the fulfilling life you deserve!

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