A new study indicates that adolescent boys who use marijuana on a weekly basis may be at heightened risk for subclinical symptoms of psychosis. Alarmingly, these symptoms appear to persist, even after a year of abstinence from the drug.
According to a recent article published on ScienceDaily, researchers at the University of Texas say that the age at which adolescents using marijuana can alter the typical course of brain development, compromising brain structures that are responsible for higher order thinking.
Rick Nauert reports on PsychCentral about a study by investigators from Northwestern University concerning the adverse impact of teens’ daily marijuana smoking on the shape and function of the hippocampus, a brain structure that plays a key role in the preservation of long-term memories.
“Our study provides definitive evidence that in heavy cannabis users, there is a detectable deficit of striatal dopamine release using an amphetamine challenge,” said Dr Weinstein. “Within the striatum, the subdivisions seem to have a different pattern, in contrast to reports of other substance abuse. And our exploratory analysis suggests that the deficits we are seeing in dopamine release in the striatum have a functional significance — that lower dopamine release is associated with lower working memory and learning performance.”
In this interview, Dr. Daniel Siegel seeks to correct the traditional view of adolescence as a period of immaturity that is driven by raging hormones. He believes that the impulsivity of adolescence is more accurately explained by the fact that this time in life is a period of brain remodeling that includes profound changes in the dopamine system.
Sex, Drugs and Rejection-Sensitivity: How a Co-Existing Disorder Can Complicate Recovery from Addiction
From Science Daily: “Rejected by a person you like? Just “shake it off” and move on, as music star Taylor Swift says. But while that might work for many people, it may not be so easy for those with untreated depression, a new brain study finds. The pain of social rejection lasts longer for them — and their brain cells release less of a natural pain and stress-reducing chemical called natural opioids.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that, “Researchers led by Catherine Fortier at Harvard Medical School found that chronic alcohol misuse damaged white matter in areas of the brain that are important for self-control and recovery from alcoholism. The findings appeared in the December 2014 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.