The use of marijuana is more dangerous to a teenager's developing brain than drinking alcohol, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Montreal tracked around 3,800 adolescent over four years, starting from the age of 13, to study their habits (such as drinking alcohol and cannabis consumption). The aim of the study is to figure how these habits are affecting the teenagers' cognitive abilities and performances at school.
The findings were published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Effects Of Marijuana To Teens' Cognitive Abilities
Bad habits such as drinking alcohol and taking drugs have been proven to be detrimental to a growing teenager's brain. However, researchers found that the bad side effects of marijuana use are long-term and lasting.
A total of 3,826 seventh-grade students from 31 schools across Canada provided their alcohol and drug habits once every year. They were also asked to take computer-based cognitive skills tests for the study.
Out of those surveyed, 75 percent admitted that they drink alcohol at least occasionally. Meanwhile, about 28 percent said they have used some form of cannabis.
During the study, students who used cannabis encountered issues with memory, reasoning, and the ability to control their behavior. More concerning is the discovery that effects of cannabis use in adolescence last up to adulthood.
"Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviors, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions," explained Jean-François G. Morin, a PhD student at Université de Montréal.
While the study was not able to detect links between alcohol consumption and poor cognitive skills in teens, the researchers warned that there are no neurotoxic effects from drinking.
Cannabis use is rapidly becoming legal across the world, which means access to the recreational drug will become even easier. Researchers, however, advise that teenagers wait a few more years before they start using the substance.
They also said that their findings highlight just how important anti-drug programs are to teenagers.