Study Finds Alcohol Damages Teenage Brain; Marijuana Has No Effect
By David BE
(HealingTalks) The questions surrounding the legalization and criminalization of various mind-altering substances have been debated for decades now, setting in motion a battle which essentially started with the prohibition era. Today, even though there are more and more countries leaning towards the decriminalization, and perhaps even the legalization of marijuana (such as Portugal and the Netherlands), it still remains an illegal substance in most parts of the world. However, many oppose this situation, claiming it is illogical to outlaw a substance such as marijuana when the affects of alcohol are allegedly much worse.
Well, it seems as if those lobbying for marijuana legalization have received a bit more fodder for their cannons as a newly conducted study which sought to explore marijuana and alcohol brain damage has yielded some very interesting results.
Marijuana, Alcohol, and the Teenage Brain
The study was conducted by researchers from both the University of California as well as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It was centered around 92 participants aged between sixteen and twenty. The study took place over a period of eighteen months during the course of which half of the participants who had already achieved a history of alcohol and marijuana usage were allowed to keep on living the same way, while the other half were asked to either abstain or drink on rare occasions only. Toxicology tests were submitted at regular intervals to ensure the participants acted as instructed.
In order to determine whether or not the teenagers suffered any kind brain-altering effect from the substances, the researchers took scans of their brains before and after the eighteen-month period. None of the teenagers were asked to go through any cognitive tests of any sort.
To paraphrase the results obtained from the study, it was observed that the teenagers who had consumed a minimum of ten alcoholic drinks per week had lost a small amount of their white brain matter. Over time, this can lead to some nefarious consequences, including impairment in cognitive abilities, memory and the ability to make decisions while thinking ahead. However, when examining the teenagers who had only smoked marijuana for the duration of the study, it was found that there had been absolutely no brain matter reduction of any kind.
These results imply two things. First of all, it demonstrates how alcohol can be dangerous for the human body, mainly the liver. The study also demonstrated how a prolonged consumption can impair one’s mental capabilities. While drinking once in a while is acceptable and actually recommended, overindulging can lead to brain damage. Second of all, these results also demonstrate quite clearly that, contrary to popular belief, marijuana doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects as far as the degeneration of grey matter goes.
Naturally, there are always a few “ifs” and “buts” to these studies, but the results obtained in this study are quite important as they give a reason to continue exploring the effects of marijuana on the human body in greater depth. Within a few years, it is very possible that researchers will give definitive answers as to how various substances–mainly marijuana and alcohol–affect the human body and what this means for their legal status.
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