Leroy N. Soetoro
2018-10-07 23:39:26 UTC
Study: Pot worse for teens' brains than alcohol
Author: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
Published: 8:11 PM EDT October 5, 2018
Updated: 1:32 PM EDT October 6, 2018
Marijuana use may pose a greater risk to the developing brains of
teenagers than alcohol consumption, according to a new study this week.
The analysis, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry,
found that cannabis had greater short and long-term consequences than
alcohol on four key components of teens' memory. The finding greatly
"We initially suspected alcohol would have a bigger effect," Patricia
Conrod, lead author and professor of psychiatry at the University of
Montreal told USA TODAY.
Researchers looked at four cognitive functions: Problem solving, long-term
memory, short-term memory manipulation and the ability to stop a habitual
behavior when needed. Marijuana had "significant" negative effects on all
four, while the study could not tie alcohol to negative effects, Conrod
However, alcohol's effects may be greater as teens drink more later in
life, Conrod said.
Authors examined nearly 4,000 students in the Montreal region over four
years, starting when the average participant was about 13 years old.
The students took yearly memory tests and self-reported their alcohol and
marijuana use. Those reports were kept confidential "unless such
information indicated imminent risk of harm," authors wrote.
By the fourth year, three-quarters of the students had consumed alcohol at
least occasionally, while only about 30 percent of participants had used
marijuana. But the study observed more daily marijuana users than alcohol
users, Conrod said.
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The study found some of marijuana's negative effects were short-term,
while others were lasting.
A particularly troubling finding: Young cannabis users may cause long-term
damage to a brain function associated with substance abuse.
When studying response inhibition that's an individual's ability to
change their actions to help meet a goal researchers found that teens
using marijuana caused long-term damage to their brains.
Conrod said that finding may help explain a previously "perplexing"
phenomenon: Young cannabis users have been shown to be at a greater risk
for addiction later in life.
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