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Cannabis damages adolescent brains more than alcohol

Cannabis damages adolescent brains more than alcohol


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How does cannabis use affect young people?

The use of cannabis among teenagers is not uncommon. Researchers have now found that when teenagers consume cannabis, it sustainably damages their developing brains, even more than alcohol consumption.

In their current study, scientists from the University of Montreal in Canada found that cannabis use in adolescents has a negative impact on brain development. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "American Journal of Psychiatry".

Teenagers should only use cannabis at a later age

The negative effects of cannabis use on thinking, memory, and behavior in teenagers were found to be greater than those from alcohol consumption. For this reason, teenagers in particular should not consume cannabis if possible, the authors of the study advise.

The investigation had 3,800 adolescents

The study included 3,800 adolescents who were medically monitored over a period of four years from the age of approximately 13 years. It is known that alcohol and drug use (such as cannabis) lead to problems with cognitive skills such as learning, attention and decision-making at a young age. In addition, school performance is also negatively impacted, the researchers say. The current study shows that the problems mentioned above increase as cannabis use increases. In contrast to those of alcohol, the negative effects were persistent, the doctors further claim.

Health risks from cannabis use?

For the study, the participating young people from 31 different Canadian schools provided information on their drug and drinking habits once a year. In addition, the abilities of the test subjects' brains were examined each year at school using computer-based cognitive tests.

How widespread was cannabis use?

Although cannabis use was relatively low compared to alcohol use in the study, 28 percent of adolescents said they used cannabis. For comparison, 75 percent of teenagers said that they drank alcohol at least occasionally.

Negative effects on cognitive skills

Study author Professor Patricia J. Conrod of the University of Montreal said the results of the study said she expected alcohol to have a greater impact on teenage brains. Instead, researchers found poor results in cognitive tests among adolescents who consumed cannabis, both during and after they stopped using cannabis. These effects were observed in working memory, reasoning and the ability to control their behavior, the doctors report.

What withdrawal symptoms can cannabis cause?

The brain of teenagers is still developing and cannabis disrupts this development, explains Professor Conrod. The results clearly underline the importance of drug prevention programs, the doctor adds. Cannabis is said to be the most widespread illegal drug in the UK, the expert said. Consumption can make you mentally dependent and it has been shown that the use of cannabis increases the risk of developing psychotic diseases, especially in adolescents. Refraining from cannabis can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as sleep disorders and mood swings among users, the researchers say. (as)

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