It is known that cannabis use affects memory negatively and causes forgetfulness and even dementia in time. Many studies confirm this. But how does this activity show up?
Cannabis contains a substance called THC. When this substance is taken, it affects some parts of the brain. It is stated that THC affects especially the region called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region responsible for memory in our brain. There is a structure called mitochondria in our cells. Mitochondria convert foods such as sugar and fat into energy, and our cells can perform their necessary functions such as memory.
Research has shown that cannabis use affects CB1 receptors involved in mitochondria and changes its function. The signal system in the mitochondria is disrupted. On the other hand, cannabis has been shown to cause some kind of breathing in the nerve cell, which adversely affects the energy conversion from food. In short, cannabis use leads to memory degradation as it disrupts energy production lines within the mitochondria.
Do Cannabis Users Become Mentally Ill?
Claims such as my son began to hear voices that do not exist, suspect everyone, began not to come out of his room, thinks that the hidden forces are following him, says that a camera was placed in the house or aliens placed a chip in his brain are mostly because of the use of cannabis in many cases.
A study published in the world’s most prestigious science journal Lancet reported that the risk of schizophrenia in individuals who smoke cannabis can increase to 40%. In another study conducted in the United States, cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia at least 7 times. Cannabis, which was underestimated by the public, was included in non-criminal substances in 2004 for a period of use and possession in countries such as the UK and the Netherlands. However, within five years of this law, there was an explosion of schizophrenia. The above results were reached in the researches made on this. Thereupon, legal arrangements were made in these countries and possession of cannabis was also included in the crime.
Substances such as cannabis lead to excessive consumption and depletion of important chemicals in the human brain and consequently cause mental disorders. Depression, panic, fear, anxiety, paranoia, obsession disorders are some of them. However, the more important disorder is schizophrenia. Cannabis comes to mind in recent cases of sudden developing schizophrenia. Cannabis-related schizophrenia has become one of the most serious mental health problems of our time.
A medical doctor in the United States says: “A young girl tried to kill her and thought that her mother would harm her was brought to me with a picture of aggression. After my interviews, I found out that the young girl had taken marijuana for a while and that her perception had deteriorated and she developed paranoia. He quit marijuana through a good treatment protocol and relieved his complaints.”
“Another counselor, even though he was the child of a conservative and religious family, began to claim that one day he was a prophet and was appointed by God. The teenager’s family said that he had recently started using cannabis and that such thoughts had developed. The young person who was taken to the treatment program had not smoked marijuana for a while and her thoughts decreased. However, the symptoms of schizophrenia recurred in the young person who started to re-use cannabis. This time he had received serious hospital treatment and managed to quit after a good therapy program. No more schizophrenia attacks were observed after quitting cannabis.”
“If the disorder is in its early stages, as soon as the cannabis is discontinued, the picture regresses and the symptoms disappear. However, if marijuana is continued, the danger of schizophrenia being permanent appears. Being permanent means that a person has to use medicine for life.”
Cannabis: Does It Really kill Intelligence?
A survey showed that young people using cannabis are at risk of a permanent decline in their intelligence. Cannabis use also brings many health and mental illnesses. According to the study conducted by US and British researchers and involving high school students, young people who started using cannabis during school years had lower IQ scores. People who started using cannabis at an early age also had higher rates of attention deficit and memory loss.
Research conducted by King’s College in London and Duke University of the United States has revealed many important results. Perhaps the most important of these is that those who start using cannabis at an early age and leave this habit in adulthood cannot regain their mental capacity. The study was conducted on a thousand people born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972-73 and whose medical records were recorded during their lifetime. Participants included 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38-year-olds who reported cannabis use. They were subjected to IQ testing at the age of 13 and 38 years. In addition, family members and friends were interviewed to assess their mental health.
One in 20 respondents stated that cannabis use started before the age of 18, and one in 10 stated that they started using cannabis in their early 20s or mid-20s. Professor Terrie Moffitt of King’s College Institute of Psychiatry said that “cannabis addicts had an eight-point drop in IQs by the age of 38 compared to the age of 13”. In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addicts were defined as people who used drugs for at least three days, at least four days a week, between the ages of 18-38.
Moffitt said, “People who started using cannabis at a young age have had a decrease in their intelligence during their adulthood. The same is not true for people who are addicted to adulthood. For example, those who start using cannabis at a young age and who continue to use it for four years have an average of eight points decrease in IQ.” “However, it has not been seen that cannabis users are fully acquiring the mental abilities they lost at later ages”, she said and also highlighted that “Eight points do not seem to matter, but it is wrong to think that way.”
People whose IQ declined by eight points because of cannabis use, if they are considered to have average intelligence in the society they live in, are in the 50 percent of the intelligence ranking. But the eight-point drop makes them more foolish than 71 percent of society. Moffitt states: “IQ level is very important for a person to be successful in the university period. Moreover, it is also important in lifelong success, good income, performance in their work and it helps to prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Stating that the level of intelligence is also related to an early death, the British researcher said: “People who lose eight IQ points will be more disadvantaged against their peers over their lifespan, and there will be a 10 percent decline in their perceptual abilities”. She also added: “There is somehow a repair in the brains of ones who started to use cannabis in their adulthood, but it is much lower in younger brains”. In short, young minds are more sensitive to the effects of the drug and fail to repair themselves. According to a study by the University of Michigan in the United States, more and more young Americans are smoking cannabis instead of smoking cigarettes. But it is a big mistake to think that smoking is more harmful. “Young people start using marijuana, thinking that smoking is more harmful, and they’re making a big mistake,” Moffitt said.
Cannabis, Early Dementia, and Schizophrenia
Cannabis use can lead to schizophrenia. A schizophrenic person’s mind is “severed.” This rupture is not a split into two, but a rupture from the real world. One often has difficulty distinguishing reality from his inner world and reality from the outside world. He perceives the sounds that resonate inside his head as if they were the real sounds of the outside world. He thinks that he is facing a conspiracy involving his neighbors or film actors are talking to him, and he thinks that the secret forces, which he assumes sending scrambled messages, are under the control of some extraterrestrial beings.
However, these are some of the symptoms; even these symptoms can be considered as efficient because they are added to normal physical activity. But there are also more devastating symptoms that completely separate the patient from the outside world. Emotionally withdrawn schizophrenic patients are indifferent to everything and have severed their bonds with others. Mental disorders, attention and concentration difficulties should be added. The first crisis, which usually occurs between the ages of 15 and 25, will be followed by other crises that are repeated at intervals. The film depicting the life of the famous mathematician John Nash is a good example of this.
However, the disease can occur in different ways from person to person; symptoms, recurrence frequency, duration and severity of crises vary from patient to patient. This diversity suggests that not a single disease, but a similar set of diseases can occur. In severe cases, symptoms prevent patients from acting independently. In the more fortunate ones, after the first crisis, the problems are reduced and a more “normal” life can be sustained. Between these two extremes, cases resembling manic depression can be witnessed. However, in any case, schizophrenia is not seen as “early dementia” as it used to be, thanks to medications and closer monitoring of patients.
Regular cannabis use and psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia) are associated with the general population, and heavy cannabis users are over-represented among new cases of schizophrenia. These findings and rising rates of cannabis use among young people in many developed countries have prompted debates about whether cannabis use may be a contributory cause of psychosis, that is, it may precipitate schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. This hypothesis assumes that cannabis use is one factor among many others (including genetic predisposition and other unknown causes) that together cause schizophrenia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424288/ )
The Factors Lead to Schizophrenia Along with Cannabis Use
There are many factors that lead to schizophrenia, and they can reverse the development of the brain like pieces of a puzzle. However, none of these causes schizophrenia alone. The most well-known of these factors are:
Heredity: The predisposition to this disease is caused by a number of genes; each of these genes makes a person more vulnerable to disease. If your twin has schizophrenia, the maximum genetic risk rate for your disease is 50-60 percent, if your brother is sick this value is added by 10 percent and it is 46 percent for parents with schizophrenia.
Negative factors that are exposed during pregnancy: In the second or third trimester of pregnancy, substances such as hunger, stress, environmental pollution, and infections may adversely affect the development of the brain, but this is still not a fate.
Stress: Factors such as isolation (hence the risk of migrants being 5 times more likely to be schizophrenic) and cannabis play an important role in the development of symptoms of the disease.
The chemistry of the brain: Many neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit nerve impulses, play a role in the development of schizophrenia in the brain, but it is difficult to determine why schizophrenia can be caused by abnormalities in many parts of the brain. Since normal behavior requires the mobilization of all regions of the brain, schizophrenic behaviors may be caused by a disturbance of communication between neurons in different regions.
Attention tests (strategy switching capacity, distinguishing noise sounds, tracking a moving target with the eyes, etc.) determine the risk. Although these “signs of sensitivity” are found in nine out of ten people, there is only one risk increase. When these factors such as genetic inheritance, behavior, and attention disorders are added to the risk, the course and status of the disease can be said to be very serious. In this case, only 20 percent of people at risk will be diagnosed with schizophrenia in the coming years. One or two years before the first serious crisis, it is necessary to pay attention to behavioral disorders; they are often confused with puberty depression.
Other hallucinations, often less pronounced, or changes resembling madness can lead to long-term cognitive impairment. However, not all adolescents who think that they receive personal messages from songs or who think they can convey their thoughts to them are not all schizophrenic; but be careful if there is a tendency to commit suicide or cannabis use.
The family physician is the first person to notice changes in young patients. Diagnosis is more difficult for internists. Schizophrenics need to be treated before the first crises, without being late. Without biological tests or MRI, information about a person’s sleep patterns, cognitive behavior, and especially close dialogue with the patient and close follow-up can determine whether the severity of the symptoms is suicidal or not.
After the revolution in neuroleptic drugs, new drugs were developed. Their better tolerability compared to others had a positive effect on the treatment of the patients. Now, the side effects of drugs that occur between crisis breaks (Parkinson-like disorders, diabetes, and obesity) need to be resolved. New drugs are still in the trial phase. Experts say there is an important link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Using cannabis 5 to 10 times at the age of 18 increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in the next 5 to 10 years. As the frequency of cannabis use increases, so does the risk. Of course, cannabis alone is not a risk factor but it can trigger dementia and schizophrenia when combined with a number of factors.