In response to Jason’s post here about drug use frying your brain, I have written this response. In general, the notion that the use of illegal drugs will fry your brain or make you permafried even after you quit is nonsense. In general, once you quit you go back to the intelligence and sanity level you were at before you started. Few people get permanently lowered intelligence or permanent mental illness from former drug use.
Most illegal drugs do not cause any permanent damage to your brain that would affect you permanently after you quit.
In all of my years using drugs, I have met 10,000’s of drug users and I never met one person who had used so much drugs that they were “fried” in the sense that they were permanently stupid or crazy after they quit using.
There may be some consequences far down the road – say, with Parkinson’s.
Jason’s article discusses an increased risk of Parkinson’s in former cocaine users. But it’s not really due to brain damages so much as changes in a certain receptor that make someone more vulnerable to a toxin. That’s not the same thing as having a fried brain.
I knew a heavy cocaine user who appeared to have neurological problems from the drug. But I am not sure if it persisted after he quit, if he ever did quit. But he’s the only person I’ve ever met like that, and even he wasn’t fried at all. He was still very intelligent and completely sane. However, he did appear to have some sort of brain damage. Whether it was permanent or not is not known.
I have known people who took LSD up to 700 times, and I know a number who took LSD 300 times. LSD doesn’t damage your brain anyway. It can cause some changes in the visual system due to permanent changes in serotonin receptors, but that just causes some perceptual problems, and this is mostly in people who have taken it 50+ times. It doesn’t change effect you in any way that changes the way you think or feel, in other words, it doesn’t make you stupid or nuts.
There are some very heavy former LSD users who seem to have permanent hallucinations, but those people took a lot of acid over a short period of time – like way, way too much acid. It’s not known what’s going on with them, but I suppose they are permafried in a sense.
LSD is a dangerous drug.
I know many people who have been smoking pot for 10, 20, or even 30 years, and there’s nothing wrong with any of them. You wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with them if you met them. They’re not damaged at all.
The pot lowering IQ discussed in Jason’s piece is only for use before you are 18. If you start using at age 18 or after, there’s no effect on IQ. People under 18 need to be very careful about pot because it can indeed lower their IQ’s a bit.
Pot doesn’t give you schizophrenia, period. The most it can do is trigger it if you are already vulnerable, but even then, most of those people would have gotten it anyway. But it can definitely bring it on sooner than it would have otherwise.
The rate of schizophrenia has been flat for 60 years, all through the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s, and all sorts of drug use rates for different drugs skyrocketed at various times in that period. In other words, neither cannabis nor any other drug is going to give you schizophrenia with one exception discussed below.
MDMA is a very dangerous drug and it can definitely cause physical damage to your brain. It permanently lowers scores on a few aspects of intelligence tests such as vocabulary, but you mostly can’t notice any changes and there do not appear to be any changes in mental stability. In general, it doesn’t make you stupid or nuts.
However, there are some people called e-tards out there who took a lot of MDMA very frequently over relatively short of periods of time, and these people appear to be permafried. Mostly they seem a bit stupid.
However, I have heard that even these effects of MDMA go away after ~7-8 years if you stay away from the drug.
Speed is another matter but even that tends to clear up after you quit. There are some very heavy methamphetamine users, especially people who shot the drug, who have developed an illness that looks a lot like or possibly is paranoid schizophrenia.
There are some recorded cases out of Japan, and a friend told me about another case here in California. This is not a common outcome and even with all the heavy meth abuse that is going on nowadays, you don’t hear much about people being permafried in the sense that they become permanently mentally ill with paranoid schizophrenia.
Heavy Polydrug and Alcohol Abuse for Decades (30 years)
I have heard of one person who used huge amounts of drugs and drank very heavily over many years, starting as an adolescent. They are now off of everything, and they have a rather poor short-term memory and forget stuff a lot, but other than that, they are still extremely intelligent.
They are also a bit suspicious and paranoid, but not at the level of a paranoid psychosis. I suppose this man is permafried in a sense, but if you met him, you would not appear stupid or crazy.
Bottom line is a lot of that stuff can mess you up pretty bad while you are on it so you seem stupid, crazy, or even brain damaged. But most if not all of that tends to clear up when you quit. Permafried people who are permanently stupid or nuts from heavy drug use must be awfully rare because I haven’t met one in my entire life. The fried brains and permafried nonsense is mostly mythology.