Marijuana Affects Your Verbal Memory

We did not expect to find such a consistent association with verbal memory for chronic exposure to marijuana.” ~ Dr. Reto Auer, University of Lausanne

If you often struggle to find the right words to express yourself, marijuana just might be to blame.

According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, people who smoke pot regularly as teenagers and young adults are able to recall fewer words in middle age. In fact, for every five years of marijuana use, verbal ability is reduced even further.

A Study 25 Years in the Making

At the beginning of the study, 84% of participants self-reported marijuana use, but at the follow-up 25 years later, only 12% did. At that follow-up each participant took standard cognitive tests measuring three things:

  • Verbal memory
  • Processing speed
  • Higher-level skills that involve different parts of the brain

Not surprisingly, the longer participants used marijuana, the worse they did on all three tests. But when all other factors that might account for low scores were considered, only the association between impaired verbal recall and long-term marijuana use remained.

Researchers were able to quantify the impairment – for every 5 years of marijuana use, the person was able to recall 1 less word from a list of 15.

The significance of these findings was not lost on the researchers. Dr. Auer says, “Recreational marijuana users use it to get high. But this transient effect might have long-term consequences on the way the brain processes information, and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons.

The Evidence Mounts

This information only further highlights the negative impact that chronic marijuana use has on the brain. For example, other research has found that long-term use is associated with deficits or declines in:

  • Visual memory
  • Executive function
  • Short and long-term memory
  • Problem solving ability
  • I.Q,
  • The ability to recover from other addictions

The Good News

As concerning as this information is, there is also encouraging news. Wayne Hall, a professor at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University explains, saying, “People who used occasionally in their 20s and discontinue, as most cannabis users do, are at low risk of developing any cognitive impairment.

In other words, if you smoke marijuana, one of the best things you can do for your future health is to quit, and the sooner the better. But if you find it too hard to stop on your own, then maybe you need specialized professional help.

If you are unsure if you or a loved one might have a problem with marijuana dependence, this brief self-assessment can help you find out.

In California, your first and best resource is Lasting Recovery, one of the top outpatient rehab programs for marijuana addiction in San Diego. By using a treatment approach that is both evidence-based and wellness-focused, Lasting Recovery gives you the tools you need to build a new, sober life.

Best of all, our new statewide telemedicine program lets you receive the services you need from the privacy and safety of your own home, via a secure Internet connection.

For more information or for a confidential needs assessment, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.

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