In general, marijuana has a reputation of being fairly harmless, but it’s important to understand researchers are still exploring its affects on the brain. There are a variety of short-term and long-term outcomes of using marijuana and if your loved one uses regularly, you might want to learn about these potential side effects.
Educating yourself is the best way you can support a loved one and help them understand if their use habits are unhealthy.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the most prevalent illicit drug used in the United States. And with many states beginning to legalize its use in certain situations, it’s becoming more and more common.
Often referred to as weed, grass, pot, Mary Jane or other slang terms, the drug is derived from dried flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Pot is often smoked in cigarettes, pipes, water pipes or blunts. It can also be brewed in tea, baked into food and vaped.
The main chemical in marijuana that is responsible for its “high” is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). This chemical is found in the resin of the leaves and buds on the cannabis plant. THC is the main reason people use marijuana, as it provides mind-altering, intoxicating effects that people seek out.
How Marijuana Affects the Brain: Short-Term
When THC passes from the lungs to the bloodstream, whether through vaping or smoking, the effects happen quickly. THC rapidly attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and overwhelms the body’s natural system. It prevents these cannabinoids from doing their job and ends up throwing the whole system out of balance.
Depending on the amount ingested, a person can experience the following symptoms:
- Altered mood
- Impaired memory
- Difficulty problem-solving
Again, it’s important to understand that the effects of marijuana on the brain largely depend on the amount taken, how often it’s used and the individual person. Every person reacts differently, so it’s important to pay attention to your loved one closely.
How Marijuana Affects the Brain: Long-Term
The long-term effects of marijuana use can vary. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has begun to show that the impact for adolescents regularly using marijuana can be more dangerous. Studies have found altered connectivity and reduced volume of areas in the brain responsible for memory, learning, impulse control and processing.
In general, prolonged marijuana has been found to impact the brain through:
- Impaired thinking
- Memory issues
- Learning impairments
THC has been shown to have a direct impact on the hippocampus, the area of the brain most responsible for memory formation and information processing. With long-term exposure, THC can speed up memory loss and cause lasting damage.
Explore Marijuana Recovery at Spirit Mountain Recovery Center
If you suspect your loved one might have an unhealthy relationship with marijuana or other illicit drugs, we can help. Spirit Mountain Recovery offers remarkable treatment programs for drug and alcohol rehabilitation for men seeking happiness outside of addiction. Our campus is located on the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah, providing the ideal backdrop for a recovery journey. Contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor about your loved one.