Are you a cannabis smoker? Have you noticed yourself becoming more forgetful and struggling to remember certain things during your day-to-day life?
As it turns out you are not alone, and there could be a direct link between your cannabis consumption and your memory troubles.
Various studies have been conducted examining how cannabis affects memory, and findings suggest that habitual use can contribute to memory issues that impact your day-to-day functionality.
One studied suggested that habitual cannabis users demonstrated impairments in memory function compared to healthy individuals who did not smoke. In fact, the cannabis users showed decreases in volume in two parts of the brain in charge of working memory, learning and reward functions. Issues with these areas, known as the thalamus and striatum, would explain the memory problems reported by habitual smokers.
In another study, participants were followed over a 25 year period. Researchers found that over this period, those who continued smoking cannabis regularly demonstrated a markable decline in intelligence and memory ability over the period. This was not only compared to the control group who did not smoke, but also in comparison to themselves at a younger age. In fact, those who began smoking earlier saw the biggest declines.
All-in-all, cannabis usage can impact your ability to form short-term memories, specifically new memories whilst ‘high’. This impact is short-term, and cognitive ability should return to normal once you have stopped smoking. However, long-term, habitual cannabis usage can contribute to more serious and lasting changes to memory and cognitive functioning.
The seriousness of these changes will depend on various factors, including your individual genetic makeup, how much or how often you consume, and the concentration you are smoking. Strains of cannabis higher in THC have been shown to be more impactful to cognitive function. The higher the THC levels (many strains have increased as much as 12% in the last 30 years) the more impact smoking can have on the brain and memory functions.
CBD (cannabidiol, which increases natural cannabinoid levels in the brain) is found in most cannabis, and can in fact balance out the negative and damaging effects of THC. However, many strains have seen a reduction in CBD content, meaning the THC is free to wreak havoc in the hippocampus section of your brain, contributing to impaired memory function and cognitive ability.
The good news is that many believe that cannabis usage may only impact the formation of new memories, so it will not make you forget memories you already formed before smoking. Also, there is a suggestion that once you quit your cognitive ability should return to normal! So, if you are looking at how cannabis affects memory, now you have the low down of what is going down in your mind to contribute to that forgetfulness streak that has been bugging you at work or in your personal life. Don’t forget any important dates, and enjoy life to the fullest with plenty of memories to look back on in your old age. There is no better excuse to finally make the decision and quit smoking cannabis to help to improve your memory and leave you feeling more energised, alert and clear headed.