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Posted on December 14th, 2016

Early marijuana use may lead to abnormal brain function, lower IQ

Early marijuana use may lead to abnormal brain function, lower IQ

Marijuana is an illegal drug that is commonly abused in the U.S. It has been linked to a number of mental illnesses though the connection was not absolutely clear till now. Recently, scientists in London and Ontario found that marijuana use is linked with abnormalities in the brain and it may lead to lower I.Q. as well. The findings are important because many people are urging for the legalization of marijuana.

Scientists have noted that many youths indulge in marijuana heavily and consider it to be effective for many psychiatric conditions. This is a myth since marijuana may provide temporary relief from symptoms but has no lasting benefit. Recently, researchers from London and Ontario decided to test the effect of marijuana on the brain. The purpose was to study the effect of marijuana and depression on psychiatric symptoms and brain cognitive functions.

Effect of marijuana use on the brain

The researchers divided the subjects into four groups: people having depression who were not marijuana users; people with depression who use marijuana frequently; people without depression who use marijuana frequently; and healthy individuals who were not marijuana users. In addition, the participants were later classified into those who started using marijuana before the age of 17 and those who started using it after 17 or never used it.

The subjects were given psychiatric, cognitive and IQ tests as well as brain scans. The results showed no evidence that marijuana use can or does improve depressive symptoms. In fact, there was no difference in psychiatric symptoms for people with depression who used marijuana and people with depression who did not use it.

In addition, brain function, specifically in the areas of the brain that relate to reward-processing and motor control was found to be different for marijuana users. Marijuana use in no way corrected any of the brain function deficits of depression, and in fact, it made them worse in some regions.

An additional finding was that the participants who started using marijuana from a young age (before 17 years) had highly abnormal functioning of the brain in areas that are related to visio-spatial processing, memory, self-referential activity and reward processing. The study also found that use of marijuana from an early age was linked with lower IQ scores.

Genetic link between marijuana use and depression

It is worthwhile to note here that past studies have observed a genetic link between marijuana use and depression. The researchers also tested whether certain genetic factors contribute to marijuana use and depression. They discovered that a certain variation of the human gene that produces brain derived-neurotropic factor (BDNF) was found in more abundant proportion among those who used marijuana from an early age. BDNF is a key factor for brain development and memory, among other processes.

Marijuana does not improve psychiatric illnesses

The findings of the study suggest that marijuana is in no way useful for depression or other psychiatric illnesses. In fact, early use of marijuana is harmful for brain development and cognitive abilities.

The researchers noted that the population of the study was small and further research is needed. There may be variances in findings when a larger population and specific age groups are engaged. Further, they found that marijuana use is a sure way to alter brain functions and they may not be positive changes.

Marijuana dependence can be reversed

While marijuana use can be addictive and heavy users can have difficulty stopping use cannot just get rid of it, there are some special detox procedures for marijuana users that can reverse all the negative impacts of marijuana. Detox facilities specializing in marijuana abuse are available in Arizona. You just need to search for details with the Arizona Detox Helpline counselors.

You can chat online to learn more about the detoxification treatment centers in Arizona. Alternately, dial the 24/7 detox helpline number 866-593-8453 to find out the best detox treatment clinic in Arizona.