Substance Abuse
Substance Abuse: Marijuana

Teenagers and Young Adults Who Give Up Marijuana See Improved Cognition

“We were pleasantly surprised to see that at least some of the deficits that we think may be caused by cannabis appear to be reversible, and at least some of them are quickly reversible, which is good news.”

~ Dr. Randi Schuster, Ph.D., Director of Neuropsychology, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

A brand-new study has determined that young people who stop using marijuana realize major cognitive benefits almost immediately, particularly to verbal memory and learning. This is encouraging news, because it promotes a measurable benefit of giving up drugs.

Marijuana and Mental Health

“For an adolescent sitting in their history class learning new facts for the first time, we’re suspecting that active cannabis users might have a difficult time putting that new information into their long-term memory.”

~ Dr. Randi Schuster, Ph.D.

Despite the widespread perception that marijuana is harmless, medical science has proven otherwise.

Marijuana use is especially dangerous for teenagers and young adults because as Dr. Schuster explains, “The adolescent brain is undergoing significant neurodevelopment well into the 20s, and the regions that are last to develop are those regions that are most populated by cannabis receptors and are also very critical to cognitive functioning.

In other words, when young people use marijuana, they are overly at-risk of harm. In fact, another brand-new study found that pot is more dangerous to teenage/adult brains than alcohol.

Some of the mental health conditions that are caused or worsened by chronic marijuana use include:

  • Alterations in Brain Function
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Decreased Brain Volume
  • Loss of IQ
  • Memory Impairment
  • Psychotic Symptoms
  • Schizophrenia

The Benefits of Giving Up Marijuana

From this study, there is a positive news.

When a teenager or young adult stops smoking marijuana, the improvements to cognition rapidly become apparent.  For example, much of the verbal memory improvements happens within the first week. This is measured in the ability of participants to learn and retrieve new information.

Of possible concern, participants’ attention did not improve, even after abstaining from marijuana use for four weeks.  However, the other improvements happened so quickly, researchers are not particularly discouraged. Dr. Krista Lisdahl, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Psychology with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, who was not involved in the study, says, “I remain optimistic that we can show recovery of function with sustained abstinence.”

What Does this Information Mean to You?

There are two major things to keep in mind.


underage marijuana use IS a very big deal. The negative impact on the still-underdeveloped young brain are pronounced. Some effects may be long-term or even permanent.


there are ALWAYS benefits to recovery.

If you or someone you care about are dependent on marijuana, contact Chapman House Treatment Centers TODAY to get the support and help you need. As the leading drug rehab program in Orange County, California, Chapman House gives you the tools to craft a safe and successful return to sobriety.


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