How Does Marijuana Affect The Teen Brain Long-Term?

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From a shorter attention span to lower grades, smoking marijuana can affect the teenage brain in a variety of ways. While those are more immediate side effects, a new study reveals long-term damage of this drug. According to research, heavy marijuana use as a teen can potentially lead to long-term memory loss.

The study, conducted by researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was published in a journal called Hippocampus. According to the Tech Times,

Researchers have found that teens who smoked marijuana daily for several years have an abnormally shaped hippocampus and do poorly on tasks involving long-term memory.

There were nearly 100 participants in the study, who began smoking cannabis at age 16 or 17. During the three years of the study, they smoked everyday. After, they completed a series of long-term memory tests that assessed how they could recall memories. The young adults who had smoked daily scored 18 percent worse on those tests, compared to their peers who hadn’t.

Study author Matthew Smith explains,

The generalization we can make is that the greater the differences in the hippocampus shape associated with cannabis, the poorer the participants performed on the memory assessment.

Because the sample size was so small, more research needs to be done, but it does suggest that marijuana can negatively impact the developing brain. Have an honest conversation with your teens about the side effects of smoking weed. If you don’t know where to start, check out this informative infographic from the National Institute on Drug Abuse!

To learn more about teen health and well-being, check out Choices magazinepublished by Scholastic.