Jul 14, 2017 12:05 PM

Alcohol Changes Your Brain Structure, While Cannabis Does Not

Alcohol and cannabis are often associated with adverse effects on the human brain. However, a recent study reveals that marijuana does not cause any harm to the brain structure. In contrast, the chronic use of alcohol has an adverse impact on gray matter volume and white matter integrity.

A study conducted by American researchers became available online before its publication in the journal Addiction. According to the data, cannabis consumption has no links with brain changes, unlike alcohol use, which negatively affects the brain structure.

Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Colorado Boulder investigated the impact of alcohol and marijuana use on structural neuroimaging in teenagers and adults. During the study, the scientists analyzed the brain activity of 853 adults and 439 teenagers who consumed either marijuana or alcohol in the past 30-day period.

Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol Consumption on Teenagers: What Is the Lesser Evil?
Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol Consumption on Teenagers: What Is the Lesser Evil?
Many things that are okay for adults may turn out damaging for the developing bodies of teenagers. It is known that binge drinking is harmful to adolescents. But what has a worse effect on them—alcohol or cannabis consumption?

The main goal of the study was to reveal any association between alcohol or marijuana use and changes in gray matter volume or white matter integrity. The findings showed a negative correlation between alcohol use and brain structure, while no connection with the use of marijuana was found.

According to the study, the chronic use of alcohol reduces the gray matter volume in adults and teenagers, as well as lowers white matter integrity in adult samples. In contrast, the researchers observed no changes in the brain structure of marijuana users.

The results of the research are similar to those shown in previous studies on the matter. The scientists believe that the popular assumption that marijuana negatively affects the human brain was based on the fact that the investigated cannabis users also consumed alcohol.

Combination of Alcohol and Marijuana Leads to Lower Grades
Combination of Alcohol and Marijuana Leads to Lower Grades
Scientists have spent a lot of time studying all possible effects of alcohol and marijuana on teens and children. The recent research showed that the combination of these two substances could lead to a decline in college performance and grades in students.

A 2015 study that analyzed the brain morphometric measures in daily cannabis users found no association between marijuana use and long-term negative changes in the brain morphology. At the same time, the use of alcohol was found to have a negative influence on cognition and brain.

In addition, earlier this year, the British Medical Journal published a study that showed that even moderate use of alcohol resulted in adverse effects on the brain, such as hippocampal atrophy.

Medical Uses of Marijuana: Why Is Cannabis Better Than Alcohol?
Medical Uses of Marijuana: Why Is Cannabis Better Than Alcohol?
While it seems that marijuana use and drinking alcohol have nothing in common, some people continue comparing these two things over and over again.

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