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New Marijuana Study Proves Brain Abnormalities

A new marijuana study has brought up some alarming, but not-so-shocking, facts.  It has already been found by researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, that there was, in fact, a relationship between teenagers who had smoked marijuana on a regular basis for three years, and their impaired long-term memories, as reported by Medical News Today.  If there are memory problems that result from smoking marijuana as a teen, does that mean there could be a negative impact on the individual, creating brain abnormalities?

Marijuana Study Shows Brain Abnormalities

In a marijuana study at Northwestern, marijuana users were tested; they displayed negative cognitive functioning skills, such as inability to recall short-term and overall memories efficiently.  Upon taking a closer look, there were brain abnormalities discovered in sections of these marijuana users’ brains, like the striatum, globus pallidus and thalamus.  These regions all play essential roles when it comes to memory function.

Conducting marijuana study

To evaluate their marijuana study, researchers gathered 97 individuals, some of which suffered from marijuana addiction and schizophrenia but not any type of substance use issue, schizophrenia with marijuana addiction, and then additional groups used for control purposes.  The outcome of the study was that the longer the amount of time the participants had smoked marijuana, the more they displayed brain discrepancies in the way their hippocampus was portrayed.  In other words, the researchers of the marijuana study believe the hippocampus changes as a result of continual marijuana use, and that the longer a person abuses the substance, the more the structure will transform its shape.

It was theorized by researchers, that this was due to the destruction of neurons and axons in the individual’s brain.  In addition to this marijuana study, the subjects that were being studied willingly performed the “narrative memory test.”  The individuals were tested by listening to a segment and approximately a half hour later, they were then all asked to see if they could remember the information that they heard.  Previous marijuana smokers scored worse than the control subjects by 18%.  Individuals that suffered from schizophrenia but smoked marijuana during their teen years scored poorly by 26% when they were compared to other individuals that had never smoked marijuana.

Natural drug doesn’t mean safe

A common misconception about marijuana is that because it is a plant, that means it’s natural, and therefore it is safe to smoke.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  This study clearly demonstrates through brain imaging, that real damage is done when an individual continues to smoke marijuana. “The abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to marijuana abuse,” explained head of the research study Matthew Smith from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  “Evidence that the longer the participants were abusing marijuana, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape suggests marijuana may be the cause.”

Marijuana can cause just as serious an addiction as any other drug.  An addict and/or substance abuser cannot afford to be confused about the dangers of smoking marijuana.  Just because it is a substance that is grown and may be considered a legal drug in some states now, doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage to the human body.  Now that there are more professional studies being conducted that prove marijuana can cause lasting harm to the brain, the drug can begin to be taken more seriously.

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