Memory loss in marijuana users: The mitochondria connection

Memory loss in marijuana users: The mitochondria connection

The most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, marijuana had 22.2 million users in the past month, as observed by the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, in 2016, 9.4 percent and 5.4 percent of class eight graders reported marijuana use in the past year and the past month (current use), respectively. Among 10th graders, the prevalence of marijuana use was found to be 23.9 percent in the past year and 14.0 percent in the past month. Grade 12 students reported the highest prevalence (35.6 percent) of marijuana use during the year surveyed, 6.0 percent accepted to have used the drug daily or near daily.

With a high population of people, especially students and the youth, using marijuana for recreational purposes, there has been a significant rise in the emergencies associated with the cannabis. According to 2011 estimates of the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a system for monitoring the health impact of drugs, the United States witnessed nearly 456,000 drug-related emergency department visits with marijuana use mentioned in the medical record.

Link between cannabis and impaired memory

Human body has natural cannabinoids that act as neurotransmitters sending signals between nerve cells (neurons) and the central nervous system (CNS) including regions associated with pleasure, memory, thinking, coordination, concentration, movement and time perception. Marijuana contains many cannabinoids similar to natural cannabinoids including 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which bind to the natural cannabinoid receptors on neurons in these brain areas and activate them. This disrupts various mental and physical functions corresponding to the brain areas they affect. For example, THC present in marijuana alters the functioning of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, responsible to form new memories and regulate focus, which may impair thinking and interfere with a user’s ability to learn and execute difficult tasks.

Researchers have for long been talking about an association between marijuana use and memory loss. Now, a new study digs deeper into the causal activity of marijuana in impairing memory in marijuana uses. The team of researchers at the University of Bordeaux in France has revealed that the ability of cannabinoids present in the drug to activate receptors in the mitochondria of the brain’s memory center is likely to cause amnesia, a condition characterized by loss of memories including facts, information and experiences. Mitochondria, commonly called as the “powerhouses” of cells, are responsible to convert sugar, fat, and proteins into energy that is utilized by cells to maintain body function.

The researchers have further explored the role of CB1, a cannabinoid receptor located in the mitochondria of nerve cells. They found that the memory loss induced by cannabinoids was directly linked to the activation of CB1 receptors in the mitochondria, which in turn cuts off the cannabinoid signaling network within mitochondria. As a result, it causes detrimental changes in mitochondrial activity and affects cellular respiration, impairing the conversion of nutrients into energy. Dr. Giovanni Marsicano, who led the study, is hopeful that it would lead to development of new safer and effective therapies targeting cannabinoid receptors and minimizing the side effects related to memory loss.

Dealing with marijuana addiction

Marijuana use is addictive and causes lifetime dependence. In 2015, the United States had 4 million people who were dependent on marijuana. A person experiences its effects almost immediately after smoking as THC and other chemicals enter into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. The euphoria and relaxation is accompanied by impaired decision-making, increased appetite, loss of concentration, hallucinations and delusions.

For someone who is making efforts to quit marijuana addiction, detox is the first step. It is important to remove the toxins stored in the body and prepare it for the recovery phase. However, many people experience withdrawal symptoms during detox. Some of the common symptoms may include irritability, decreased appetite, restlessness, craving, sleep difficulties, and/or different forms of physical discomfort. It is advisable to seek treatment under the supervision of an experienced physician at a center equipped to handle relapses.

The California Detox Helpline can help you find evidence-based detox and rehab centers in California that offer holistic programs for sustained recovery. You may chat online or call our 24/7 helpline 855-780-2495 to get details about the best addiction treatment centers in California.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *