New research from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Qc. suggests that the effect of daily cannabis use on the teenage brain is worse than previously thought. Moreover, the long-term effects appear irreversible.
Marijuana, the most used illicit drug, has long been considered a ‘soft’ drug—minimally damaging in comparison to most other, ‘hard’, drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Marijuana’s addictive properties have also been long argued.
However, according to researchers at the McGill University Health Centre, daily cannabis use leads to depression and anxiety, as it impacts both serotonin and norepinephrine—the chemical compounds that help control mood and anxiety in the brain.
Researchers observed 18 teenage rats as they were exposed to cannabis. The rats showed decreased levels of serotonin, affecting mood, and higher levels of norepinephrine, making them more susceptible to long-term stress (anxiety).
Permanent changes in these parts of the brain, say researchers, are linked to several different mental illnesses.
Even if the cannabis exposure was stopped, the study continues, at the end of the teenage years, the changes were still detectable in the rats in adulthood. T
he study’s lead researcher says that the study shows that the effects of cannabis use in teenagers is far more devastating, than in adults. Cannabis, it seems, interferes with the development of the serotonin and norepinephrine systems.
Next, researchers say they will observe young marijuana smokers.
Findings were published in The Neurobiology of Disease.
Source: Canadian Press