Is It Okay to Smoke Pot After a Brain Injury?

Question: 

I had a brain injury more than two years ago. Among other symptoms, I lost my sense of smell. What I’m wondering — as un-PC as this is — is whether I can still get high if I smoke marijuana.

Answer: 

Some people lose some or all of their sense of smell after a traumatic brain injury. However, there is no relationship between losing your ability to smell and the effects that marijuana have on your brain. You should also be aware that marijuana can be especially harmful after a brain injury.

There are many reasons not to use alcohol or illicit drugs, including marijuana after a brain injury. If you use drugs or alcohol, you could:

  • Not recover as fully or as quickly
  • Have more problems with concentration, memory, or balance
  • Increase your risk of seizures
  • Increase your risk of having another brain injury.

So, the bottom line is that whether you can smell or not, you shouldn’t being using marijuana.

 

 

Posted on BrainLine November 15, 2010. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Comments (205)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

I had a severe diffuse Axonal traumatic brain injury in 1998. I was 8 years old. I just started smoking and it helps with all of my pain from my head injury.

I suffer from a Traumatic brain injury, was diagnosed back in 2013 and have a really difficult time thinking about it without crying. I was instantly put into a coma and and lied on a coma for 2 weeks. My current neurologist said I would not survive and told my Mom to prepare for me to die. The woman was driving 45 mph and hit me with no helmet. I have suffered from seizures since 2015. (I believe I have done permanent damage due to the stupid things I had done back then).
But when I smoke marijuanna I have seizures. Example: My last seizure was in August oddly at night, and it was almost directly after smoking. Was curious if there is any correlation, or if it mainly due to eating habits?

I had bleeding in the brain possible skull fracture thirteen stiches on my right forehead a gash. I think I feel forward and fell face-first on road. I keep feeling like I need nicotine but about a month later after brain injury, the doctors called it a sub- injury. It's along story. I'm so mad at who hit me head but when I have nicotine I'm easy going don't think of him. Could you tell me what you think

I got hit in the head in 2006 they said I had the second serious hemorrhage. About one to two months later I started smoking cigarettes for the first time. I got hit from behind with a blunt object and the person was never caught. I saw he was a black male. Anyway I quit smoking cigs on April 7, 2020, then started nicotine lozenges in around May. Now I quit lozenges Thursday. And been using a nicotine patch for the last two weeks. I pulled patch off at 3 am this morning and then woke up about 830@m. Been all day without nicotine is it possible because of my head injury when I quit nicotine I get so irritated with everything aggravated but when I have nicotinevim easygoing. I feel I need nicotine for a good relaxed mood. Ask any questions if you need to. I feel like I'm mad at people but nicotine cures my feelings. I wanna be easygoing without nicotine but I can hardly focus on my cable TV. Not much patience please help!! Thank you

Marijuana has made dealing w multiple this bearable

Hi,
10 weeks ago I had motorbike accident that resulted in subdural heamatoma and diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury. There is still some blood clot that doctors keep monitoring by regular scan.

I dont believe any of the statements of this doctor cause there is enough evidence and research on TBI and medicinal cannabinoids.

My question is has anyone smoked pot after 2 months of their injury and what was it like?
I would like to smoke but I'm a little bit nervous and would like to hear others' experiences..

Had a TBI experience the night of March 1, 2020, not sure why I fainted, but felt sick just before and when I fainted, fell free-fall, hitting the floor and the back of my head had a nice size goose-egg that I treated with ice-packs and sleep. Did not go to emergency as I felt OK, but dizzy. Well, it's been 7 months, and it has affected me with first the dizziness the first couple months, and now it's vertigo just about all day, when I get up from sitting, get out of bed, wearing and taking off my Rx glasses, walking, jogging - I experience some vertigo - some days are worse than others. I've noticed nutrition is key. I have been smoking Indica cannabis at night for the past 12 years for help with my basic ailments - PMDD, Fibromyalsia, and insomnia - it's the only thing that helped me get through the days. I do not smoke it any other time of day, just Indica at night - sometimes to help with appetite than for getting me to sleep right away. Since the TBI, I had to moderate the cannabis from smoking about .75g to .30-.50g and than as the days passed, increased it to almost where I was before, .75g. It's still too much and when that happens, I get the worse feeling in my head - it's like an overactive thing happening in my head where it almost feels as if I'm shaking inside my head. I am also going through peri-menopause, so all these symptoms are wrapped up into one right now making it difficult to decipher what is actually happening to me. Because nothing helps it go away, I just have to go straight to bed and I'm usually over it my morning and feel fine. So, I just have to be careful with how much cannabis I'm smoking at one time. If you have a TBI, I do know nutrition is key, so if you have not eaten well or not at all before smoking, you will find out how bad that can feel. However, if I eat nutritious food and than smoke a little, it usually does as it should and I get to have a restful sleep. Also, following the TBI, getting high is no longer enjoyable, as I cannot listen to headphones with music, watch TV or look at screens too long before I start feeling that awful and weird head experience, i.e. shaking inside my head that comes and goes. Be safe and do cannabis in moderation by testing how much will work for you. Now that I've read many of the TBI experiences here, I see this can last for months to years, so I'm hopeful I will heal soon, even if I use a little cannabis before bed.

Simple question...
Can I smoke hydro if I'm post brain surgery 20 years ago and take dilantin to avoid grand mal seizures ??

I smoke weed almost everyday even though the bleeding on my brain wasn’t as bad. I was in a car crash and put in a coma about a month ago. Ever since I got out I been smoking weed and I’ve had no effect to it.

Just wanted to share with you that I got hit by a truck 7 years ago I have traumatic brain injury I been in the coma for 2 weeks, connected to life support back then right after my accident, when I got out of the hospital I did drink a lot, I did smoke Marijuana a lot and back then it didn't feel like had any affect on me... now a days damn rights it has you will find that out later on in life it will come out... I am seeing extra help. And still smoke and drink sometimes its hard to find balance and say no.

I had a car accident and I didn’t have a seatbelt on. I had to put into an induced coma for almost a month. Literally almost died. Also I do have a traumatic brain injury as well. 2 in a half years later I smoked weed with my family I feel completely fine. No headaches nor eye strains. My brain is actually restoring. I feel clearer. I can only smoke Mon. Wed. and Friday’s; no weekends. There is no risk of an increased seizure and there is no risk having another TBI. The brain is complex I’m sure of it but I’m feeling absolutely amazing. Weed is good for the brain. That’s just my opinion.

POT MADE MY BRAIN INJURY ISSUES WORSE:

I'm a life-long pot user -- indeed, mariiuana helped me manage terrible colitis and bowel issues due to Crohn's disease.

However, I incurred mild brain damage due to West Nile encephalitis in 2011. During my recovery, every time I smoked, it would set me back several weeks. Over time, I recovered and nothing seemed different about smoking pot.

Two years later I noticed I was developing a tremor. I was also diagnosed with negative myoclonus, which is a "twitch" caused by a micro-siezure.

Several more years went by and the tremors and "twitches" continued to get worse. They would get so bad I could barely play the guitar. I was also having worsening memory issues -- I couldn't perform my songs without having the lyrics right in front of me. I had to concentrate whilst performing or I would forget which verses I had already sung. It was very stressful and embarrassing when I would screw up.

Then I developed a bad allergy to marijuana. It made my asthma go so crazy that I just had to give it up. I did NOT want to do this but I had no choice.

Gradually, in the months that followed, the tremor and seizures became unnoticeable. There are times if I overuse my hands that I'll feel it a bit, but it's NOTHING like it was before. I've returned to my usual level of (lame) guitar playing and I can keep track of where I am in songs I am singing.

It's just amazing how much better I am doing since I gave it up.

When I do occasionally use marijuana -- for acute Crohn's disease flareups (it's the only thing that helps) -- the tremor and twitch return.

So marijuana does NOT help all people that have brain damage! I wish it did, but I'm so much better off without it.

Ever since I had a sTBI 5 1/2 years ago, I get really paranoid and I hate when people tell me I have to find the right strain. I got a med card before the car accident so it was active for a few years after I tried different edibles, different strains, low THC, everything had the same negative effect of paranoia and my facet fracture pain would flare up which doesn't make sense but my brain was all sorts of messed up and I know it got completely rewired

Since I was 8 I’ve had a Cranial Fracture that thankfully I don’t have any symptoms for, that is until I smoked pot for the 1st time. I don’t know what pot does to the brain exactly, but my theory is that it may have an inflating/swelling effect on the brain. So...

Pot Caused me to “trip”. Super hard. My vision was impaired, my brain would black out every 3 sec. my brain would wake up to process my thoughts and then black out again. And the depressed area on my head “was on fire”(that’s what it felt like). I couldn’t speak right, and i mean i had major speech impediment. And I couldn’t retain any information.

These effects lasted about 3-5 days, with subtle long term symptoms of the same kind that lasted about a year.

I don’t recommend smoking pot w a brain injury. Regardless It’s not all that great anyways.

Does anyone know how to fix my skull though?

What is a facet fracture?

I’ve just recently suffered a TBI fractured skull and cheekbone. I had minor bleeding on my brain. Luckily I didn’t need surgery. Before my injury I was a daily user but I noticed after I smoked a few times I felt very strange and weed just makes me feel different haven’t been able to smoke which is probably for the best.

I had internal bleeding i cracked my skull from the inside from falling off a car . I had hit the concrete road . This was october 31 2019 right on Halloween day n till this day ive been trying to smoke pot but it makes me feel weird like its not my normal high like it use to be . Like i feel lost and i cant really concentrate im always serious . I was wondering what yall feel??

Same bro I got jumped 10 months ago I was 14 and hit in the head with a hammer leaving me with a broken cranium I was In coma for 2 days nearly died but i started smoking till this day I do but whenever I do I get really paranoid and I fell wired my heart starts to race and i get like wired twitches in my leg and body and I don’t feel like myself

I just get more high

A few months ago I suffered a hit to the head which resulted in my skull cracking inwards and cutting my brain. I had surgery and only now have I started to smoke bud again. I’ve found now if I’m smoking it outside of the house or if I’m with people I’m not close with then my paranoia is so out of control and I just stay in that fight or flight mode until I’ve had time to calm down away. The only way I can smoke it and have a good high again is if I’m alone or with very close friends.

How this was reviewed in 2018 and not removed is beyond me , completely the wrong message , especially given the large amount of evidence there is to debunk the main assertion of the article

I tried smoking pot after my TBI and it made all my symptoms much worse. HOWEVER, I used a homemade CBD tincture (no THC) and it was literally the only thing that would reduce the pain and symptoms I was feeling. Now that I'm 4 years away from my accidents, I smoke pot, but not too much, just a puff or two is all it takes, AND I still use my homemade CBD occasionally.

I was wondering when I could again. I had a tbi around 1 year ago and the doctors said no drinking for 2 years, so I assume smoking too. I’m afraid if I smoke right now my symptoms could get worse also

I have a TBI, I have seizures, and I feel "doped up" on all this medicine, I was 18 when I got hit by a drunk driver while I was in my car, when I smoke weed I just feel "sober", I dont get high, I get freedom from a brain injury, I take 2,200 milligrams of brain injury med a day, marijuana helps so much! Help please! I need freedom from this seizure disorder, and everything else.....make this legal for at least these reasons, please let me know if it's going to be legal in Georgia??? Help now, please, Skeet

I am not all too sure about this article and the proofs of this exact article. I think moderation is key to anything you do no matter what it is. I had a diffuse axonal brain injury grade 3 I fell from a bridge 25 feet. I was in a coma and had to relearn how to walk. I am 11 months almost since the fall. and I have broken the official 1-year rule however only 11 months and I use cannabis and I personally think it is helpful. Moderation is key.

I got a TBI like 8 months ago now I was snowboarding and hit a tree going 40mph without a helmet spent 2 weeks in a coma and 3 months in the hospital when I woke up shit sucked man and I can see why smoking everyday could mess with your recovery but honestly I’ve just been taking one hit off a joint if it’s goin around and I get really high then I take about a month break until I smoke again and I’ve been doin just fine

Did u suffer from light sensitivity? I am 11months into my tbi and im still light sensitive.

It has been over 23 years since my severe TBI and I still have some issues with photosensitivity. The brain is a VERY complex organ. Every person is different pre-injury, every injury is different, affecting different areas of the brain and life in general, thus every survivor is exponentially different.

I suffer light sensitivity too. It’s getting better. But now I find that I just Cary multiple shades of sunglasses and it helps a lot! I had a TBI six months ago. I hope it eases for you. It’s super frustrating.

Can you vape after tbi really need to know cause I'm tryna quit smoking

My question is can you smoke cigarettes after brain injury

I got a brain injury from a car accident. Lobectomy, all that s***!! Hydrocephalus, shunt, seizures all the time. 14 antiepileptic meds a day and seizey poos still happening. Added medical marijuana, going on 4 months Seizure free. It works!!

My boyfriend has TBI with memory loss, gets lost everywhere, among other things. He’s great when he’s not smoking, clear thinking and even wakes up and talks about things from days and weeks before on his own without prompting.
When he smokes, it’s hard to speak with him and he needs supervision, like complete fog, memory loss is exasperated, cannot even take the dog for a walk, and does not think smart whatsoever.

That’s what pot does to you. It’s a downer and makes you lazy but also helps with a lot of other things. It really depends on how much you smoke and what kind you smoke

I had a clot on the frontier of the Amygdala and left parietal lobe - never stopped smoking herb. I have been aware and always looking for answers. Before the stroke, I considered weed to be a PED? Could always go downhill on wheels or edge better stoned! Maybe it has led to some dumb decisions after? It is a benevolent drug. Other drugs make it hard to get it up. Have you ever heard of a violent crime involving only Mota? I believe that it stimulates creativity and focus? I am not a scientist; but only, a curious surviver. Sometimes my emotions are hyperactive. I don't think weed is the perp. Fight on brothers and sisters, we only get one turn.

I have a relative who has experienced a TBI Traumatic brain Injury. He really wants to smoke pot at night. He says it helps him sleep at night. I am concerned that this will slow and even halt his recovery from the TBI. He is 35 years old. I keep telling him how bad it is and he still says it helps him sleep at night. Very confused on what to do to help him properly.

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

My son has right frontal lobe damage and has trouble staying employed due to his impulsiveness. Does cannabis help those of you with right temporal lobe injuries control impulsiveness (speaking without thinking?) Acting without thinking? Thinking through the consequences of your actions before making the wrong decision?
Does it help to control anxiety and angry outbursts?

I have witnessed worsened impulsivity and disorganization in my relative with severe TBI. Very frustrating to witness. As a person without a brain injury, I remember smoking pot and then getting loads of ideas I could not organize well enough to do anything with them.

This article contradicts Everything that is now known about cannabis, , which is that it is actually very helpful in both preventing and treating brain injury. Who is this guy who wrote this article?

He's a PhD and has 3 different roles in Ohio Institutions including the Ohio State University, all dealing with brains. People want to say big pharma wants all the profits but I've seen people spend hundreds on weed here in CA. The weed industry puts out things that make them look good but they just need more true double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trials, and then have to repeat the study to prove the first study didn't happen by chance. Maybe because he's older he doesn't like weed for the connotations it is starting to get over. Maybe he really just doesn't want people to do what he's clinically seen. They say science is never final and we just don't have enough studies with brain injuries as described above.

I've seen the worst of this drug too!! Well said.

I recently had a brain aneurysm which the doctors called a subarachnoid hemorrhage stroke. Is it ok to try marijuana edibles?

If you're concerned about smoking, edibles cross the blood/brain barrier too and edibles make me and a few of my friends paranoid and lasts WAY too long if you do get paranoid from it.

I had the same thing ..all I wanna know is will I mess up if I smoke marijuana again? I've stop drinking, and stop smoking cigarettes. My stole was on August 19, I haven't did either since. My b'day is Wednesday the 6the and I wanna smoke.

For me TBI happened 7 months ago spent 17 days in two hospitals 3 days in a coma 7 in an ICU unit. I'm still recovering. I smoke cigarettes didn't while in there. I have smoked pot for a long time but since this injury I have only smoked very little but has help me to eat sleep and not be so irritated with myself or life as a whole..if you know your limits trying it may not be so horrible.....

I had the same thing, a TBI with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. I have smoking to alleviate the headaches.

Dear Dr. Corrigan,

I'm wondering if CBD oil ( without THC) will help a survivor of a TBI with frontal lobe damage. i have a son that acquired an alcohol problem many years after his TBI.

I would appreciate any information, links, contacts, etc. on TBI and CBD oil.

Thank you,
Christine

I’m not a professional by any means and this may not help. I developed alcoholic tendencies after traumatic brain injury and have been suffering since. Genetically I’m prone to alcoholism but I never had such intense cravings until after my head incident. Praise the Lord I did not die or become paraplegic after my accident. I have been smoking marijuana since my injury in 2008 and it has helped immensely. With legality of the product throughout the years I have been able to use pot to help with brain injury and quit alcohol. With love to TBI sufferers may you find peace -B

Hi B,
Thanks for your reply, it's much appreciated. I just posted again but it's not showing up yet. I have some questions about impulsiveness and employment when one has right frontal lobe damage. My son cannot stay employed due to impulsiveness with his words (out of turn and inappropriate comments.)Once said, he is well aware he should not have said whatever he said. Navigating social situations is super hard for him. Now he tends to prefer to be alone more than not. I would love your input if you have experienced this yourself.

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