A fascinating new study shows that cannabis offers some neuroprotection to young people who engaged in binge drinking episodes. The binge drinkers were young – aged 16-19. This is an age at which the effects of drugs on the brain may be particularly bad, since the brain is continuing to develop.
What was shocking was that binge drinking in adolescents caused the type and degree of damage that it did. Binge drinking caused actual losses of white matter in the brain, similar to the damage seen with drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.
Briefly, white matter is the axons that connect brain cells to each other. Grey matter consists of the connections and also the cells themselves. So heavy drinking in adolescence causes actual damage to the connections between brain cells. That’s pretty serious stuff. It’s not known if the damage repairs later, or at all. However, connections between cells can grow back.
If the damage does not repair, then a Hell of a lot of adults are walking around with significant brain damage from binge drinking in adolescence. If this is the case, then clearly the brain can handle this sort of damage, since most such folks, assuming they are damaged in this way, are able to function well both cognitively and psychologically.
The study was fascinating because if the adolescents used cannabis in addition to binge drinking, the damage was notably less than if they binge drank alone. Therefore, cannabis use was somewhat neuroprotective to the brain in terms of the damage caused by binge drinking.
This does not mean that cannabis use is good for your brain, or that it does not damage the brain. But no study of cannabis use has ever found anything as dramatic as extensive white matter losses in the brain (that’s a pretty serious type of damage). So, if anything, binge drinking in adolescence (which many adolescents do) is remarkably worse for your brain than using cannabis in adolescence, which is an amazing thing to say right there.
But that’s not exactly what the anti-drug moralfags and fuckwits tell us, is it? In their view, binge drinking is a necessary evil, while cannabis use, especially in adolescence, is a moral and public health catastrophe. God, what a load of shit that is.