Heavy marijuana use linked to Schizophrenia
Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
A new study has found that teens who smoked marijuana regularly for three years have abnormal changes in the brain structure and poor working memory.
The study conducted by the researchers from the Northwestern University in the US found that the damage continued even after ceasing smoking. The study also found a link between marijuana-related brain abnormalities and the mental disorder schizophrenia.
The findings are based on 97 teens, aged between 16 and 17, including both non-smokers (44) and youngsters with a history of cannabis use disorder (10), and peoplewith both cannabis disorder and schizophrenia (15) and the last group with people who have schizophrenia but without the history of smoking marijuana (28).
“We see that adolescents are at a very vulnerable stage of neuro-development,” said Matthew Smith, who led the research team at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “And if you throw stuff into the brain that’s not supposed to be there, there are long-term implications for their development.”
Three brain parts - the striatum, thalamus and global pallidus of the participants were studied under MRI. The adolescents with heavy usage of marijuana were found to have abnormal changes in the brain parts.
The study also found heavy users performed badly in memory tests compared to others in the group (non users and non-schizophrenic).
According to a recent report by Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, marijuana usage fell to 9.5 percent in 2012 from 12 percent in 2002.
While the study is a breakthrough study in understanding the long term effects of marijuana usage, researchers are still not clear about the cause and effect of the problem.