Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

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Does Weed Kill Brain Cells?

Does smoking weed or marijuana kill brain cells? Can your brain recover from weed? Does marijuana cause brain damage? These are common concerns surrounding marijuana use. In this article, Avenues Recovery, addiction treatment experts, explore these questions to provide insight and clarity on whether cannabis destroys brain cells and the impact of marijuana use on the brain.

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Marijuana's natural origins and its reputation as a safer option than alcohol and painkillers contribute to its popularity, with many users adopting a frequent "wake and bake" habit. Currently, over 11.8 million American teenagers and 48.2 million adults are using marijuana.
As the cannabis industry grows, the American political system has been debating the legalization of recreational marijuana. While some states have legalized it, others are still weighing potential negative consequences. This raises questions among scientists, politicians, and consumers about the true harmlessness of marijuana.
Although research is still preliminary on the extent of marijuana’s impact on the brain, and it is too early to know whether marijuana kills brain cells, it is clear that prolonged marijuana use can affect brain activity.

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How Does Weed Affect the Brain Cells?

Back to topThroughout the body, there are cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system.  The system is responsible for regulating a range of functions in the body, such as memory, sleep, and reproduction. When weed enters the body, the cannabis in it mimics the naturally occurring endocannabinoids in the body. This allows them to connect to endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body and activate them. Like any substance, once the body becomes dependent on cannabis, it won’t produce as many cannabinoids on its own. This can cause marijuana use disorder where the body becomes dependent on marijuana.
THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, is linked to changes in how oxygen travels through the brain. Although it is unknown whether or not THC kills brain cells, marijuana is known to decrease blood flow to the brain affecting its function.

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain Short-Term and Long-Term?

Marijuana can have different impacts on the brain, both in the short term and over the long term.

The short-term effects of marijuana may be:

  • Difficulty judging distances

  • Difficulty remembering (also known as "Marijuana Brain Fog")
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Possible long-term effects can include.

  • Some cognitive impairment
  • Some memory loss
  • Increased Marijuana tolerance
  • Marijuana dependence

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Marijuana Brain Scan

Scientists have been studying images of the brain on marijuana brain scans to determine whether it affects the brain or not. The studies have become inconclusive and conflicting as of now. However, a correlation has been found between age and duration in those impacted by marijuana use. In younger users, marijuana is more likely to influence the brain.

Some of the effects marijuana may have on the brain include:

  • Cognition and memory: Research has shown that consistent marijuana use during adolescence can impact cognition. Studies done on adolescent rats showed changes in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for long-term memory, from marijuana use.
  • Reward system: The research also discovered differences in the rats’ reward systems. Rats who used marijuana were likelier to seek extreme pleasure if given the opportunity (such as heroin).
  • Lower IQ: A longitudinal study conducted in New Zealand on marijuana use found a correlation between teenagers who used marijuana and a few points lower IQ in adulthood. This only occurred in those who were heavy marijuana users from adolescence. The study also did not control for other factors, which is likely accurate but isn’t guaranteed.

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells in Adults?

Currently, the jury is out on whether marijuana use in adults can cause any long-term effects. However, in teenagers, it seems clear that there is a substantial downside to marijuana use. 
Another strong reason to stay away from marijuana use is the risk of laced weed. If you use marijuana regularly, protect yourself by learning how to test weed for fentanyl.

Does Weed Permanently Damage Your Brain?

More research is needed for the public to grow knowledgeable about marijuana consumption, and whether or not weed kills brain cells. Nevertheless, existing evidence indicates that marijuana negatively affects brain function. Furthermore, excessive use or mixing with other substances can present serious risks. If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, remember that drug detox treatment and support are available. Our team of trained professionals at Avenues Recovery is here to assist you on your journey to recovery. Reach out to us today for help.

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