Marijuana is good for the brain, alcohol is not.

Marijuana on the brain
The brain on marijuana

If you are a chronic user of alcohol, you might want to stop immediately and turn to alcohol instead. A recent study has proven that alcohol destroys the brain but marijuana does not.

Researchers found that alcohol use is linked to decreases in the brain’s gray matter, which consists of brain cell bodies and synapses. This decrease of brain matter occurs in both teens and adults. In adults, alcohol use was also linked to declines in the integrity of the brain’s white matter, which is made primarily of the long nerve fibers that zip messages through the nervous system. Marijuana use, on the other hand, was not associated with either gray or white matter declines.

“The difference between the alcohol and the cannabis is pretty dramatic,” said lead study author Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder.

the study fits in with a body of work that has found great results regarding marijuana and the brain. Some research, for example, hints that at least some cannabinoids, the compounds in cannabis, may be protective for the neural system, Hutchison said.

The new study had the advantage of a large sample size. The researchers looked at brain scans from about 850 substance-using adults ages 18 to 55 and about substance-using 440 teens ages 14 to 19, all of whom reported varying levels of alcohol and cannabis use. Alcohol was more common than pot as a substance of choice, with 487 adults (57 percent) and 113 teens (26 percent) reporting that they’d used only alcohol in the past six months, and 5 adults (0.6 percent) and 35 teens (8 percent) saying they’d used only cannabis in the past six months. Others used both.

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