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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Marijuana

11/15/2004

Question:

What is the long term effects of weed use?

Answer:

Marijuana is an addicting substance both mentally and physically.  It dissolves in the fat cells in the brain which surround each neuron as insulation.  If someone uses heavily, it can take up to one year to see how they will function as a new baseline.  It affects memory and the ability to process and learn new information because it works in the part of the brain where memory and learning are accomplished and controlled.  This is called the hippocampus.  It can also cause the Amotivational syndrome in which people don't really connect well to their external environment and develop an attitude of Who cares.  It causes depression which can be severe, especially if mixed with sedatives like alcohol.  It leads to disorders of perception so that people think they are doing great at activities requiring skill and perception; however, they are really not doing the task well at hand.  It can cause physical disorders with most parts of the body.  For more info on these many long term effects, please go to http://www.nida.nih.gov/ and click on drug facts.

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Response by:

Edna M Jones, MD, MRO Edna M Jones, MD, MRO
Emeritus Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University