"This is your brain on drugs": Casual marijuana use linked to brain changes

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April 18, 2014
Fried egg

In an old advertisement, a person held up an egg and said “This is your brain,” then cracked the egg in a hot frying pan and said, “This is your brain on drugs.” Several studies have shown that repeated marijuana use can do what this ad illustrated – alter your brain. But this week, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that even casual marijuana use can make structural changes to the brain.

To test the impact of recreational marijuana use on the brain, researchers took MRIs of 18-25-year-olds who reported smoking marijuana only casually and compared them with MRIs of 18-25-year-olds who never smoked marijuana. They found that the marijuana smokers had significant changes in their brain shape and density and urged for further study to determine the long-term neurological effects of casual drug use.

This study also has implications for children and teens who think occasional marijuana use is safe as long as it doesn’t become a habit. It’s clear from NPCH research that adults in the country are very concerned about drug abuse among children and teens in their communities. Drug abuse ranked second in the latest NPCH Report on the top 10 children’s health problems in the eyes of adults across the U.S. Read the full report: Top child health concerns: Obesity, drug abuse and smoking.

Top 10 U.S. Children's Health Concerns
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Is marijuana use a problem for children and teens in your community? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.

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