Across the globe, various studies have been conducted to examine and determine Cannabis impact on cognitive function. The majority of these studies highlight that Cannabis use has increased consequences on those that begin experimenting with the recreational drug at a younger age. But why?
In order to gain an understanding of why this may be, it is important to comprehend what cognitive function is, how it develops and Cannabis’ impact on cognitive function.
Cannabis Use in the UK
While cannabis laws in the UK communicate that it is illegal to grow, be in passion of, distribute and use cannabis, an increasing number of young adults are reported to use the drug each year in England and Wales. In fact, research has determined that those between the ages of 15 and 24 are more suspect to Cannabis use and addiction than any other age group.
With this in mind, it may come as no surprise that last year the NHS reported that it is those under the age of 19 who are more likely to be admitted to A&E for mental or behavioural disorders linked to Cannabis use, addiction or withdrawal.
There are a number of reasons that Cannabis use could be on the rise. However, it is believed that misinformation surrounding the drug alongside an increase in medical Cannabis and products featuring Cannabis oils are the primary drivers. Exposure from the media is also thought to have contributed to a growth in the number of young people using and becoming addicted to the drug.
While Cannabis is widely known for its ability to help people relax, decompress and escape from the stress of everyday life, it is often consumed with little or no consideration given to the long-term effects that can impact cognitive function.
What is Cognitive Function?
Cognitive function, or cognitive skills as they are otherwise known, are processes that happen within the brain that enable human beings to learn, think, remember, solve problems and make decisions every single day. From the moment we are born, our cognitive function and development begins. This development continues into early adulthood, typically fully developing as we turn 18.
As we age, we become suspect to natural cognitive impairment. This is recognised when individuals have trouble remembering, concentrating or making decisions that may be simple for those with a high cognitive function. This impairment is more noticeable in those that suffer from memory loss disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
While ageing naturally induces cognitive impairment, the use of recreational drugs such as Cannabis can cause an early onset in reduced cognitive capabilities.
Short and Long-Term effects of Cannabis Consumption on Cognitive Function
The length of time that an individual has been consuming Cannabis has an inevitable impact on cognitive function. The age that an individual began using Cannabis and the severity of the addiction will also determine the overall effect.
Unfortunately, the lasting impact of Cannabis addiction goes beyond what many comprehend. Cannabis addictions are often interpreted to be similar to that of other substance addictions, such as alcohol addiction, with individuals led to believe that solely seeking addiction support will abolish any consequences on physical and mental health. While obtaining help from a rehabilitation centre can help to overcome addictions, some cognitive functions such as memory loss cannot be reclaimed.
Many Cannabis addicts notice the short-term effects that the drug has on them, but they fail to consider the long-term consequences. These short-term effects can include, but are not limited to the following;
- An increase in anxiety
- Experiencing short-term memory loss
- Feeling confused
- Feeling paranoid that someone is watching them or following them
- Experiencing a lack of motivation to do everyday tasks such as going to work or getting out of bed
- Sustained attention span
Many of the above short-term effects impact cognitive function shortly after Cannabis has been administered, but bypass within 72 hours.
Due to the direct impact Cannabis use has on cognitive function, long-term effects are undoubtedly more severe and have been continuously found to have more profound ramifications on those who consume Cannabis from a young age.
For example, research confirms that the risk of developing psychotic conditions are higher if used regularly from the age of 15. Cannabis studies further conducted by professionals in the United States have also suggested that the younger the user, the more likely it is that their emotional and psychosocial development will be affected. This is because Cannabis can interfere with the growth and formation of the brain. In turn, this obstructs learning, thinking, remembering and crucial problem-solving capabilities that would otherwise support individuals throughout their life.
Cannabis studies have also uncovered that young adults are more suspect to verbal memory issues and will struggle to remember things that they have either read or heard in years to come. While a sustained attention span is considered to be somewhat normal in the short-term, a lack of attention and ability to focus in the long-term could indicate that Cannabis has had a lasting impact on cognitive function.
Cannabis’ impact on cognitive function
Cannabis use has a variety of short and long-term impacts on all users, all of which are somewhat devastating for young adults as they progress through life.
As a result, it is imperative to seek help if you believe you are battling a Cannabis addiction. We can provide you with the rehabilitation support you need by referring you to a drug rehabilitation centre in the UK. Not only will this provide you with around the clock support, but it will ensure that you have a personalised treatment programme in place.
If you believe that a family member, friend or colleague has a Cannabis addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We can support you and your loved one through rehab and therapy.
Call us on 0800 470 0382 today to discuss your needs with our team of professionals and discover what we can do to support you.