13 December 2016

Health Risks Associated with Cannabis Addiction

There are thousands upon thousands of people throughout the UK who abuse cannabis regularly; some to the point where they develop a cannabis addiction. A lot of controversy surrounds the use of cannabis; some experts believe that there are no known health risks while others insist that there are. Either way, cannabis is still an illegal Class B drug that could land you with a criminal record if found in your possession. Many people will choose to ignore this and continue to abuse the drug regardless, with no thought on how this could potentially affect their health in later life. Recent studies carried out in France found that regular cannabis abuse could cause damage to eyesight; it is something that scientists plan to study further.

Small but Substantial Interruption

The research found that continued abuse of cannabis can trigger an abnormality in the retina and thus cause damage to eyesight. Scientists compared the responsiveness of the retinal cells of 28 cannabis users, most of whom were thought to have a cannabis addiction, and 24 people who did not use cannabis. It was found that there was a small but substantial interruption in the time taken for the signals to be processed by the retina of the cannabis users in comparison to those who did not smoke the drug.

Neurotoxic Effects of Cannabis

The researchers, who were managed by Dr Vincent Laprevote of the Pole Hospitalo-Universitaire de Psychiatrie du Grand Nancy, wrote in the JAMA Ophthalmology, “This finding provides evidence for a delay of approximately ten milliseconds in the transmission of action potentials evoked by the retinal ganglion cells. As this signal is transmitted along the visual pathway to the visual cortex, this anomaly might account for altered vision in regular cannabis users. Our findings may be important from a public health perspective since they could highlight the neurotoxic effects of cannabis use on the central nervous system as a result of how it affects retinal processing.”

Potential Consequences

In a statement that was distributed by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study was defined as both ‘small’ and ‘preliminary’. However, the researchers explained, “Independent of debates about its legalisation, it is necessary to gain more knowledge about the different effects of cannabis so that the public can be informed.  Future studies may shed light on the potential consequences of these retinal dysfunctions for visual cortical processing and whether these dysfunctions are permanent or disappear after cannabis withdrawal.”

Important and Neglected Issue

Dr Christopher Lyons of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Dr Anthony Robson of Moorfields Eye Hospital, London wrote an article about the research. In this piece, they said that it dealt with an “important and neglected issue, namely the possible toxic effects of cannabis, with all its implications for the many users of this ubiquitous drug.” They then went on to write, “Addressing this issue through the visual system, as the authors have done, is an elegant concept. Any deleterious effect on the visual system would also have implications for driving, work and other activities and thus warrants further study.

“Electrophysiology can provide reliable and reproducible measurements of retinal and visual pathway function and is useful in the investigation and localisation of dysfunction, including that caused by toxicity. However, the conclusion that cannabis causes retinal ganglion cell dysfunction cannot be made with any degree of certainty based on the evidence provided in the current study. This question should be re-examined with some urgency, using a degree of scientific rigour, which may be challenging in jurisdictions where cannabis consumption is illegal.”

Beating a Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis addiction is a very real illness for some people because it causes negative consequences in their lives as well as the lives of those closest to them. If you are worried that you or a loved one might have a cannabis addiction, contact us here at UKAT. We have many treatments available at our clinics for those trying to overcome cannabis addiction. We will ensure that, should you chose one of our facilities, you have the best possible care while with us. Our clinic is designed so that it is comfortable and relaxing, helping to calm any nerves an individual may have about finally beating their addiction.

One of our specialities is helping individuals overcome addiction to cannabis, and there is nothing more we would rather see than for the affected person to fully beat his or her addiction and move on to live a healthier and happier life. If you have any queries or require any information, do not hesitate to contact us; we will be more than happy to discuss anything with you.
Source: Regular cannabis use could damage eyesight, study suggests (The Independent)

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