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Effects of cannabis on the brain

It is understood that casual marijuana use has the power to develop into an addiction in a short space of time. Over the years, the dangers of cannabis abuse have long been debated. While there are differing opinions regarding the harm cannabis can cause, research suggests that the regular act of smoking marijuana has the potential to lead to harmful effects on the brain.

How cannabis affects dopamine

New research highlights the negative impact that cannabis has on dopamine; a chemical in the brain that is linked to learning and memory. The study found that cannabis effects were similar to those produced by cocaine and heroin, but until recently it has been hard to categorise cannabis in the same way.

The study, undertaken by researchers, analysed individuals who smoke cannabis and those who don’t. The results of this research confirmed the negative effect cannabis has on dopamine, clearly illustrating one of the most significant dangers of cannabis abuse.

dangers of cannabis abuse

How cannabis affects the brain

The negative impact of cannabis on dopamine suggests an overall adverse effect on the brain. Cannabis affects the ‘rewards’ circuit of the brain, also known as the mesocortcollimbic reward system, which is responsible for mediating pleasure within the brain. As such, any damage to this area of the brain could be harmful and long-lasting.

The study consisted of researchers showing a group of people pictures of marijuana or related products and pictures of their favourite fruit. The study included 59 cannabis users and 70 non cannabis users. From the results, cannabis users demonstrated higher stimulation rates when exposed to pictures of cannabis or related products, compared to pictures of their favourite fruit.

What are the dangers of cannabis use?

Aside from being shown images, the subjects of the study were also asked to complete questionnaires regarding their marijuana use and social situation, in order to distinguish a correlation between the two factors. It seemed those who regularly smoked cannabis had more issues in their home life, which were caused by their drug use. However, despite understanding the dangers of cannabis abuse, subjects suggested that they couldn’t – or wouldn’t – give up their daily habit, suggesting a strong dependence on the drug.

How cannabis affects your mental health

The results of this study suggest that marijuana usage can have long-term, negative effects on the brain. While the effects of cannabis use are well-known, for example high levels of paranoia and anxiety, it seems these common side effects of the drug are more prevalent than previously thought. While the research may not provide conclusive evidence regarding the dangers of cannabis abuse on the brain, it does provide some useful insights to bear in mind.

If you or a loved one are suffering from cannabis addiction, contact drug and alcohol rehab experts Port of Call today by calling 08000029010 or email help@portofcall.com. Our specialist advisers will be only too happy to help you find the right treatment for your needs.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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