Everyone forgets things. Where are your keys, the name of a former teacher, an appointment, it is just a fact of life. But when does it become an issue and does marijuana play a part?
Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection, or medication side effects. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and cognition improves. Other times, the problem is a brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which cannot be reversed.
As we age, it’s normal to forget things once in a while, but memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like driving, using the phone, and finding your way home. Forgetfulness can arise from stress, depression, lack of sleep or thyroid problems. Other causes include side effects from certain medicines, an unhealthy diet or not having enough fluids in your body (dehydration). Taking care of these underlying causes may help resolve your memory problems.
It is clear alcohol causes memory issues, but what about marijuana? The imagine of a regular user of cannabis is laid back, forgetful and chill….is it a stereotype or is there fact behind the image?
There’s no question marijuana can produce short-term problems with thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor function (physical actions that require conscious thought, such as driving a car or playing a musical instrument). This is because marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, THC, causes its effect by attaching to receptors in brain regions that are vital for memory formation, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. THC is what gets you “high”.
Memory impairment from marijuana use occurs because THC alters how the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation, processes information. Chronic THC exposure may hasten age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. Most research has been animal focused and more needs to be done for researchers and scientists to have a clear picture.
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Long-term cannabis consumer may develop brain fog, lowered motivation, difficulty with learning, attention span difficulties. Symptoms are typically reversible, though using products with higher THC content may increase risk of developing cognitive symptoms.
Alcohol primarily disrupts the ability to form new long–term memories; it causes less disruption of recall of previously established long–term memories or of the ability to keep new information active in short–term memory for a few seconds or more. Alcohol can also cause a blackout resulting in a temporary lost of memory.
There is an alcohol-related ‘dementia‘ (ARBD). If a person has alcohol-related dementia they will struggle with day-to-day tasks due to brain damage caused by heavy, regular over many years.
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Research indicates brain receptors called cannabinoid 1 receptors begin returning to normal after 2 days without cannabis, and regain normal functioning within 4 weeks of stopping the drug.
If you have something major you need to engage 100% on, slow up on consuming so you can be at the top of your game.