Research conducted and published in the Journal Cerebral Cortex[i] revealed that exposure to cannabis (marijuana) during the adolescent years contributed to significant schizophrenic-like changes in the brain.
The results from these findings could be particularly troublesome, since according to the National Institute Of Drug Abuse[ii], as much as 15% of kids in the 8th grade have tried cannabis before, with about 1% using it on a daily basis.
Marijuana is normally sought after for its effects of relaxation and euphoria, but can also induce feelings of anxiety, fear or paranoia when taken in high doses, or from the use of new strains with high THC levels.
In adolescents, it can also lead to cognitive impairment, resulting in long term negative changes to the brain which is still in its developmental phase.
Relationship To Psychosis And Schizophrenia
Acute over dosage of cannabis causes symptoms of short term psychoses; which can include loss of spatial awareness and hallucinations. However, more serious long term schizophrenic disorders have also been the result, ultimately affecting that teenager’s quality of life going forward.
Researchers from the Western University in Ontario Canada were able to reveal the long term implications of marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain, following exposure of adolescent rodents to the effects of THC (tetrahydro-cannabinol), the constituent in cannabis that is responsible for its psychoactive effects.
The team investigated the areas of the brain commonly affected by schizophrenia, and its associated symptoms of anxiety, disorganization and public interaction.
The results demonstrated changes that were nearly identical to the disorder schizophrenia; changes such as social withdrawal, anxiety and diminished dopamine levels, all characteristic of schizophrenic disease. These changes also persisted long after the use of cannabis was discontinued, well into adulthood.
It was also noted that no changes were seen in adult rodents, who had already experienced full development of the brain.