Cannabis ruined my young brain

Postby LondonScouse » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:12 am

Hi guys, I have smoked cannabis everyday since the age of 16. I am nearly 23 now, and I would like to see if my brain is able to recover from the damage.

The main issues I have are a lack of emotion (inability to laugh/cry), an inability to form a social/emotional connection with a fellow human being , which perpetuates my minor social anxiety, and a persistent depression (feeling flat and apathetic).

Initially I thought I was becoming schizophrenic, as the above symptoms are typical of the so called negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia, however these symptoms haven't got worse over time, and I have thankfully remained very much in touch with reality.

Anyways, I actually did quit for 5 months, from July 17th 2015 - January 8th 2016. I can definitely say there were small improvements, but nothing major. The first 3 months, there was barely any improvements and I can remember thinking that if I was the same after many years I would commit suicide, however by the 4-5th month, I started to enjoy playing video games again among other stuff.
Unfortunately, I started smoking again (January 8th). Even though I started smoking daily till quite recent, I noticed the persistent positive effects of my previous abstinence (these positives slowly diminished over time).
I kept smoking because I felt like I did more work while i was high. (I've been a university student for the last 3 years, and I just recently graduated with a first-class honours in biomedical science while smoking weed everyday)

I'm ready to stop smoking weed to allow my brain a chance to go back to normal, however I am very sceptical at this point in time. I have spent SO much time reading other people's stories, and when I do find a person in a similar situation (young daily smoker & same symptoms), I haven't come across a happy ending. I think this may be due to the fact that cannabis is essentially neuron-toxic to the adolescent brain in comparison to an adult brain. Thinking about the damage I have caused myself makes me somewhat suicidal.

The single aspect that binds everybody on this forum is recovery, however I do think that cannabis smokers can be classified into two categories; those who started at a young age, and those who started smoking daily when they were adults. I feel that the brain of an adult is much more equipped for recovery than that of a adolescent individual. Also, we have to consider the fact that the weed of the last decade or so is much more potent compared to the weed of a couple of decades ago, which is quite benign in comparison.

Even though I do believe I have acquired permanent damage/alterations, I also realise that the brain is quite amazing and resilient. Our brains are plastic, and we can essentially mould our brains in accordance to our daily activities. Therefore, even if there is a degree of permanent damage, our brain's are capable of compensating for this damage, and I do think we can live a somewhat normal life, given enough time to change. I'm talking about years of abstinence.
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#1

Postby lmcbride » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:09 pm

You've got the wrong outlook bud. Your brain can get definitely get back to how it was before you started smoking, it just takes time.

I smoked from 15-25, daily for probably half of those years. I'm almost 13 months weed free now and feel great. Neuroplasticity is an amazing thing that our minds are capable of.

Good luck!
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#2

Postby LondonScouse » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:25 pm

You are right, neuroplasticity is amazing...I realise that, but still, after reading scientific literature produced in recent years, I can't help but remain sceptical.

I've found people who exhibit the exact same symptoms as me, none of them have ever stated they recovered properly. In fact some would continue to post, and even 1-2 years later, they would state there have been minimal improvements. Maybe it is due to the lifestyle, but a lot of these guys state they exercise a lot, meditate ect...

On the other hand, there was 1 person I spoke to, and he said it took him over 5 years to go back to 'normal'.

Everyone is different i guess.

I read a lot of your posts. You state there was a drastic improvement around the 6 month mark ect. I'm happy for you :) I think you are basically recovered ! I quit for 5 months once, but if i had to quantify the recovery, I would say 20 to 30% MAX i recovered in 5 months.

I'm ready for the long, hard journey ahead of me. I even quit smoking ciggs as well.
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#3

Postby Julia Stretton » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:27 pm

lmcbride wrote:You've got the wrong outlook bud. Your brain can get definitely get back to how it was before you started smoking, it just takes time.

I smoked from 15-25, daily for probably half of those years. I'm almost 13 months weed free now and feel great. Neuroplasticity is an amazing thing that our minds are capable of.

Good luck!


I can only second that. I'm 43 and smoked for 27 years, quit tobacco 3 months ago, and weed-free for ten weeks. One thing that I can say for sure is that my life is better than it had been for a very long time. The success of your recovery will depend to a large extent on your attitude and your belief in yourself, and at your age you have got a lot to look forward to.
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#4

Postby lmcbride » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:54 pm

I was definitely still struggling at 5 months, but month 6 really gave me some hope.

I have no doubt I'm still recovering, but I've recovered enough to the point where I'm happy again that's for sure!
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#5

Postby LondonScouse » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:34 pm

I'll give an example of somebody with similar brain physiology to me; viewtopic.php?t=95028

I can find many more examples of young adults with the SAME symptoms, even years after abstinence.

I appreciate the positivity you guys portray. Imcbride, you give me some hope, so thank you.

Julia, can you see a difference between the weed of today, and the weed you used to smoke 27 years ago? That is a big factor in why young people like myself are probably damaged for good. Congratulations on 3 months without tobacco, that is certainly a big achievement.
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#6

Postby Julia Stretton » Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:23 am

It is common knowledge that weed is nowadays far stronger than it used to be. In the 90s, we were actually hardly ever able to get weed (at least where I lived), and we smoked solid most of the time. In the mid 90s I moved from the small town where I had grown up to Frankfurt, and I was able to get some very oily gear that we called 'nougat'. Before that we mostly had standard slate / soap bar (or 'Green Turk', as we called it in Germany), with the occasional Red Leb, Black Afghan, French Paper etc. Sometimes what was available was very much sub-standard, and who knows what horrific chemicals we eposed our brains to! Over the past ten years I've smoked mostly super high grade weed, which just seems to be getting stronger all the time - Psychosis, Double Chronic, Diesel, AK-47, Blue Cheese & Chiesel, Kosher Kush, C99 ... Until the new millennium, there was also plenty of heavy drinking involved (which is far more likely to kill brain cells than cannabis ever will), ounces of speed, barbiturates, and vast amounts of little pills - generally marketed as 'ecstasy', although I believe that they rarely contained pure MDMA, but mostly a colourful cocktail of chemicals. I also dabbled in sniffing glue for some time, and I spent several months binging on smack. A lot of those, I would never do again. The only drug that I wouldn't knock is acid, even though it is something that has sent plenty of people around the bend, even in small amounts - but despite having taken ridiculous quantities over a period of 25 years, it's something that I've only ever had positive experiences with.

If you think that you have caused yourself irreparable damage, and that the chemicals that you have subjected yourself to in the past alter your ability to program your own mind in any kind of way, you are very much mistaken - and I'm not talking about the kind of New Age BS such as positive thinking / positive affirmation, which in my opinion only creates a kind of psychotic state when the imagined self becomes more and more distant from the real self, and people are unable to differentiate between the two (R.D. Laing sheds a great deal of light on that kind of state of mind). We need to be aware of the parts of our life that we are unhappy with, without deliberately suppressing unpleasant emotions, otherwise we are never able to change. But at the same time, it is important to count our blessings, and to be aware of the things that make us happy, and the possibilities that we have to change our lives. Equally, the inability to adapt to a society which is in itself not exactly sane, doesn't neccessarily make a person mentally ill.

As a neuroscientist, you might be interested in reading some of John C. Lilly's work, if you haven't already done so. There are many others who have explored and written about different brain models - none which contradict each other, but which only provide different kinds of maps through which we can understand consciousness - on the molecular level, psychologically, and in more abstract terminology. I think you've made a great choice deciding to study brain chemistry - if I was younger, it would be a subject that I'd dedicate more time to myself, but I wasted a lot of my youth just wandering around aimlessly (or glued to the sofa), and after dabbling in a large range of interests without ever being able to settle for anything specific, I've finally made art into my main passion (and I am currently designing several websites in order to be able to invest in the necessary tools).

On a chemical level - have you tried taking lecithin? I'm sure that you must be aware of phospholipids, and their effect on the brain function. It is something that I can highly recommend.
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#7

Postby LondonScouse » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:41 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply Julia. I have read everything you wrote and appreciate your points of view.

I will certainly take a look into publications of John C. Lilly. And yes, the brain is fascinating, but at the same time the complexity can be quite daunting. There is so much we have yet to fully understand.

My major intake of lecithin is from the scrambled eggs i eat for breakfast. I can't say for sure whether there is a definite positive impact from lecithin, but it is extremely good for the human brain.

To anyone else reading this post. There are some things that can facilitate brain recovery apart from exercise. Some of the most important substances are vitamins B, magnesium and zinc. There are others as well, but it can be dependant on the individual. Vit B, magnesium, zinc and fish oil would generally help everyone though.
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#8

Postby Julia Stretton » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:22 am

Yes, I stir some calcium, magnesium & zinc powder into my smoothie every day. And B-vitamins are important co-factors that are needed for absorbing a number of different nutrients - particularly pantothenic acid is important for absorbing lecithin, from what I can understand. Although I have heard that the high heat generated by frying eggs destroys the healthy phospholipids, and that it is best to boil or poach them - but the chemistry behind it is probably something you know more about ... is that something you can verify?

In general, I prefer plant-based products (although I'm not a vegan), so for example instead of taking fish oil supplements, I get an omega oil blend made from flax, hemp etc., and I buy large packs of granules made from soya lecithin (Solgar is my preferred brand). I do stir two large spoonfuls into my drink in the morning, and ideally I want to do the same in the evening (like a friend of mine does who is possibly the most intelligent person I have ever come across, and possibly the most health-conscious, too) - I'd have to swallow loads of pills to get the same amount into my body! :)
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#9

Postby LondonScouse » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:36 pm

Chemistry isn't my strong point :P but what you wrote makes sense.

Also I would like to add that flax oil has limited use in humans and other mammals...as we are inefficient in converting ALA into DHA and EPA

If you feel it works for you, than fine. However you could also look at replacing that with a proper Vegan Omega-3 supplement: veganhealth.o...omega3#veganDHA
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#10

Postby LondonScouse » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:37 pm

It doesn't let me post links on this site, however if you copy and paste that last bit, you should be able to find the website i wanted to show
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#11

Postby limoentje » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:55 pm

I have the same feelings as the OP, have the feeling that weed use from 16-20 damaged my brain for good. I smoked almost daily until 3 weeks ago (now 25).

This doesn't help:

"The researchers analyzed frequency of cannabis use from ages 14 to 19 to determine the relationship between use during adolescence and psychosocial outcomes. In an unexpected finding, boys who started occasionally using cannabis around 15 or 16 years old and had a dramatic increase in use by the time they were 19 had the greatest dysfunction in brain reward circuitry, the highest rates of depression and the lowest educational achievements.

"We expected to see that the young men who had a high, consistent level of marijuana use would have differences in brain function. However, it turned out that those who had an increasing pattern of use over their teens had the biggest differences," Forbes added."
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#12

Postby limoentje » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:52 pm

I have seen so many research about this issue, many see a link between early onset cannabis use and mental disorders such as depression later in life. How strong is this link? I also fear that I messed up my brain for good (started smoking mostly at 16, increased around 17). At 16 not every day but multiple times a week, and at those ages no big amounts, many days with just a few drags (high potency cannabis though).
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#13

Postby LonelySmoker » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:26 pm

LondonScouse,

I know exactly how you feel. If you read my posts from the past you will see that I went through the same thing as you.

I was started smoking at 16 and quit at 28. When I was deep into my addiction I felt emotionless. There were times that I wanted to cry but I literally couldn't. I was awkward in social situations and suffered from so many of the same things you do.

Let me tell you I AM FULLY CURED. And so will you be if you quit. You have to give it time. Honestly I think it took me about 1.5 years before I started to feel fully normal again.

So please do yourself a favour and quit and never look back!

Best wishes
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#14

Postby Prayingforpeace » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:33 pm

Hi lonely smoker,

I began smoking at 15 and quit at 27, I'm around 6 months clean now and struggling massively, I have 2 beautiful amazing daughters and a wonderful partner, I can 100% relate to wanting to cry but can't.. It's bloody strange and horrible at the same time right?! For the past 5 months I have tried so hard to "feel". It cuts me up that I have to fake emotions in front of family, squeezing a fake laugh or smile and pretending to care about things I did whilst smoking. I basically feel as if I'm dragging around a version of myself that just isn't me. Proud of you for quitting and even more happy you've came out on the sunny side, it gives me hope, I thought quitting would do the same for me but it's as if I have completely lost my identity.. I'm not looking to smoke again just wish I could start to feel again. Sorry for rambling on lol! Just curious if you can relate to any of this and also how you felt at 6 months?. Appreciate it a lot if you would reply when you have chance. If not thanks for the hope anywAy. Thanks again.

Luke.
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