Does Smoking Pot Effect Your IQ?

Does smoking pot affect your IQ? Yes, if you start smoking under the age of 18. A study from New Zealand’s University of Otago of 1,000 people IQ tested and followed from 18 to 34 showed that people who smoked and became dependent by 18 had an average drop of 8 points.  Unfortunately, quitting didn’t remove the problem researchers reported.  (Modesto Bee, Tue. 28, 2012)

I’ve had many a teen in my addiction counseling office who said to me some version of:  “Pot’s not like alcohol or hard drugs, it doesn’t have the same bad effects.” It’s at that point I’d grab a copy of Daniel Amen’s Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and show them pictures of the “potted” brain. (View images at Amen’s website:  Pot is NOT a nothing drug. When smoking you may not jump off buildings or rip people’s heads off, but depending on whether it ups or mellows you – you will tend to zone out, eat everything, get lost in a video game, sit on the couch staring into space, or other such productive activities.  I know, pot affects people differently so if your experience is that it enhances reality, fine. But which reality is that?

At the age of 20 I smoked for a year and it was the most unproductive, wasted, sleepy year of my life. I was able to take care of my son, clean the house and nap a lot. I remember the realization that sluggishness was not how I wanted to live each day, quit and felt mentally clear. But it took awhile!

When I was a drug & alcohol family counselor at Starting Point in the 80s most patients that went through detox “cleared” in 2 or 3 days. Meaning they were visibily able to think and process better and were then admitted into the general population. There was a man in his 40s however, a Vietnam Vet, that had been smoking heavily for over 20 years. He hadn’t used any other drugs or alcohol, just pot. At the end of 30 days he was still not mentally clear. It was scary.

As with any of the self-medications we feel we need to get through the day, gently ask: What would life be like if I weren’t using this?  What might I emotionally not be wanting to feel?  If I wanted to quit, how could I do that? If you’re curious about quitting – take a break for a week and see how you feel.  And, there’s lots of online help available – just google “quit smoking pot tips” and see what comes up. Or check out Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom.

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