You may remember The Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s flagship public service announcement, “This is Your Brain on Drugs,” depicting an egg in a frying pan during the ‘80s. But it should have been called, “This is Your Brain on Alcohol” instead.
A new study published in Volume 112, Issue 12 of Addiction confirms that “alcohol use severity is associated with widespread lower gray matter volume and white matter integrity in adults, and with lower gray matter volume in adolescents,” while the negative effects of cannabis were significantly lower.
Researchers in interviews were very careful not to fully endorse cannabis consumption, but admitted that alcohol consumption is much more damaging to the brain. The research indicated that, “while marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol,” researcher Kent Hutchison told the University of Colorado Boulder’s Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine.
Brain scans of 853 people aged between 18 and 55, and 439 young adults aged between 14 and 18 were observed. Alcohol consumption was associated with both the loss of volume and integrity of gray matter in the brain. The chronic use of alcohol linked to negative consequences to the brain structure.
The often ridiculous anti-cannabis ads of the 80s and ‘90s targeted cannabis consumption quite often. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration continues to claim that cannabis’ healing effects are not proven.
Scientific studies continue to release positive and negative information about the effects of cannabis on the brain. “When you look at these studies going back years, you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum or the whatever,” Hutchison said. “The point is that there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.”