Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the world and the third drug behind tobacco and alcohol. The cannabis trade is making a lot of money around the world, both illegally and legally in more and more places.
More and more companies are profiting from the sale of marijuana or products related to its consumption (pipes, self-cultivation equipment, etc.). That’s why social media is increasingly flooded with misinformation about recreational cannabis use, downplaying its risks and exaggerating its supposed benefits.
The Reality Is That Heavy Marijuana Use Can Cause All Kinds Of Brain Damage, and aggravate previous psychological problems. Numerous studies show how THC (and other substances found in the cannabis plant) alter brain function, in many cases for the worse.
The main harmful effects that marijuana has on the brain
In this article, I will discuss the possible negative effects of marijuana on the brain, although companies that profit from marijuana are not interested in speaking publicly about the risks of frequent or excessive cannabis use.
Excessive marijuana use can lead to memory problems, difficulty accessing certain memories.
It’s common to talk to some people who use marijuana daily and see if they lose the conversation. Although it may seem like a stereotype, it is based in reality, and many people who use it will have seen it often.
2. Concentration problems
Other negative effects of cannabis use are often concentration problems. These brain damage become more apparent and obvious when talking about teenagers or very young consumers.as their brains are still developing, early cannabis use limits their intellectual and emotional development.
3. Schizophrenia and psychosis
Symptoms of schizophrenia or psychotic flare-ups are often the most dramatic consequences of excessive marijuana use. Episodes in which the person loses connection with realityand endangers his life and that of those around him, in many cases ending up in the emergency room of a hospital or on long-term psychiatric medication.
It is important to clarify that not everyone who uses marijuana will suffer from psychosis. This is a complex question that depends a lot on genetics. Smoking leeks can often “activate” psychosis in some people with a certain genetic vulnerability. In some people it can happen very early, a few months or weeks after starting to use it, and in others it can take years.
The reality is that no teenager who starts smoking leeks comes with a genetic test in hand, so no cannabis user can really rule out the possibility that sooner or later their consumption will cause them brain damage and serious psychiatric problems.
Episodes of “paranoia” are frequent in people who have smoked marijuana (depending on amount, variety, frequency of use, genetics, etc.). Most of the negative effects of marijuana are related to THC (its main active ingredient, and responsible for the “colocón” that people seek when smoking a leek).
Some studies suggest up to 40% greater chance of suffering from psychosis in marijuana users.
4. Sleep problems
Sleep problems are extremely common among people who smoke marijuana.
Many start to climb and increase their drinking frequency as they notice that it helps them fall asleep more easily. But they pay the price for much lower quality sleepwith much shorter REM phases (no dreams), limiting your rest.
It is also common for people to be afraid to quit because they think that without smoking marijuana they will not be able to sleep, that they will suffer from insomnia. We are talking about a clear addiction here, and an important part of any psychological treatment to quit smoking is to help the person improve their sleeping habits so that they no longer need to smoke a leek to sleep.
Not only is cannabis use associated with depressive symptoms, but many people with depression turn to marijuana (or other drugs) to try to cope with everyday discomfort. Using marijuana for depression is a vicious cycle in which the person, the worse they feel, the more they smoke, and the more they smoke, the worse they feel when they are not smoking.
6. Anxiety and irritability
Regular cannabis use is also associated with anxiety, irritability or outbursts of anger.
Many people use marijuana every day because they don’t know how to deal with daily anxiety and stress. The person who smokes frequently disconnects more and more from what they feel and ends up using the leek as a means of self-medication. Then, when she tries to quit smoking, she panics at the thought of all the anxiety she’s going to experience and won’t be able to deal with it without smoking a leek.
7. Loss of motivation
Motivational syndrome is another of the most common side effects of cannabis. My psychotherapy practice is full of people who smoke several leeks a day and don’t feel like doing anything, have dropped out of school or find it difficult to go to work without having smoked before.
This is why cannabis is an addictive drug. Because, like any other drug, it directly affects the brain’s reward system, dopamine circuits, and other neurotransmitters related to motivation and reinforcing behaviors or habits.
The person’s brain gets used to the habitual use of marijuana and eventually overshadows everything else. Activities that once motivated and excited become gray and the person loses interest in anything other than smoking the leek.
8. Disconnecting from relationships
Smoking leeks on a daily basis also limits a person’s social interactions, shut them up, and they lose interest in spending time with people who don’t smoke leeks. Parents and relatives often talk about how difficult it is for them to enjoy conversations or contact with other people.
Marijuana is an addictive drug, no one can deny that at this point. Marijuana-induced brain damage makes her anxious and even terrified of living without smoking a leek.
As with any other drug, the person who savors it starts to climb on it and smoke more and more often. He develops a tolerance (marijuana doesn’t affect him as much as it used to), so he starts smoking more and more. Until your life revolves around smoking leeks and you become increasingly locked into environments that promote your consumption (groups of friends who also smoke leeks, or online communities that encourage you to continue consume, making you think that marijuana is harmless and does not cause problems).
How to Quit Marijuana
If you’ve tried quitting leeks and haven’t been successful, you need professional help.
My name is Luis Miguel Real, and I am a psychologist specializing in addictions. Over the years I have helped many people quit smoking. If you need help, contact me ASAP and we’ll get to work.
- Crean, RD; Crane, North America; Mason, BJ (2011) An evidence-based review of the acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of Addiction Medicine 2011; 5:1-8.
- Mena, I.; Dorr, A.; et al. (2013) Effects of Marijuana use in schoolchildren on brain function demonstrated by neuropsychological testing and neuro-SPECT imaging. Salud Ment vol.36 no.5 Mexico sep./oct. 2013.
- Dellazizzo L. et al. (2022) Evidence for acute and residual neurocognitive effects of cannabis use in adolescents and adults: a systematic meta-review of meta-analysis. Addiction. January 2022.
- Megan A. Moreno et al. (2022). A content analysis of cannabis business adherence to marketing requirements in four states. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Studies 2022.
- Zalesky et al. (2012) Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fiber connectivity. BRAIN, Journal of Neurology, 135; 2245–2255.