Can Using Marijuana Trigger Psychotic Illnesses Like Schizophrenia
Probably, yes. Psychotic illnesses are mental illnesses that have symptoms of hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. These symptoms together are called psychosis. Schizophrenia is the best known psychotic illness. Some other psychotic illnesses are schizoaffective disorder and depression with psychotic symptoms. A large number of scientific studies agree that people who use cannabis before the age of 25 get illnesses like schizophrenia younger than they would have otherwise. They also agree that the more cannabis a person uses, the younger they will be when they start to be ill.
Whats The Best Advice
Although the exact nature of the marijuana-schizophrenia link is still murky, doctors know enough to offer some guidelines:
- Itâs wise for teens to avoid marijuana or delay using it until they are adults.
- If you have schizophrenia, donât use marijuana.
- If you have a family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic illness, avoid marijuana.
- If you are a caregiver for someone who has schizophrenia and uses marijuana, encourage them to quit.
Who Are Your Parents
Inheriting a genetic predisposition to psychosis makes one vulnerable to the consequences of marijuana. Unfortunately, there are no genetic tests currently available to inform someone with certainty that they are at risk of developing psychosis. Our only option is to consider your siblings: Do any of them seem psychotic to you? If so, then you should seriously reconsider using marijuana.
Despite reports from several high-profile observational studies of a dose-dependent association between cannabis use and risk of psychosis, a causal link between cannabis use and psychotic disorders remains controversial. Why? Observational results are frequently hindered by the possibility that another risk factor associated with cannabis use might be more closely associated with developing psychosis. Alternatively, people who are affected by the early symptoms of schizophrenia might be turning to marijuana to self-medicate themselves. Marijuana use by these nascent psychiatric patients might be reducing some of their symptoms long before they become part of their diagnosis.
The connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is also muddied by the fact that cannabis use is strongly associated with tobacco consumption. Conversely, tobacco use is strongly correlated with marijuana. Indeed, tobacco may act synergistically with marijuana to create addiction. Making matters worse, tobacco use may increase the risk of becoming schizophrenic .
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An Increase In Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling mental disorder. Its symptoms may include delusions, thought disorder and hallucinations. Worldwide, schizophrenia affects 20 million people. No cure exists, so doctors try to manage the symptoms with medications and therapy.
While one study has suggested that schizophrenia is increasing in Denmark, in other countries the picture is uncertain, said Hjorthøj. In the US, the National Institute of Mental Health said its hard to obtain accurate estimates of the prevalence of schizophrenia because diagnosis is complex and it overlaps with other disorders.
Many textbooks in psychiatry state that the incidence of schizophrenia is constant over time and independent of geographical location, Hjorthøj said.
And this has often been used as an argument against the hypothesis that cannabis could cause schizophrenia, he added. However, it turns out that there is very little research that would support this notion.
The new study was based on data from Denmarks national health registry and included all people in Denmark born before December 31, 2000, who were 16 years or older at some point from January 1, 1972, to December 31, 2016.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cannabis
Cannabis-induced psychosis looks a lot like schizophrenia, and mimics other psychiatric disorders. If the symptoms fade away relatively quickly they are called acute symptoms, such as when a person can sleep it off, and wake up feeling relatively normal. THC has a sticky characteristic, in that it takes a long time for the body to flush out the metabolites. If the person abstains, likely the symptoms will continue to abate, and will not return. However, if the person continues to use cannabis with high concentrations of THC, it is possible that the cumulative effects may cause another psychotic episode to occur. If the symptoms are persistent, even after abstaining, then treatment is indicated. Physicians may not always identify these symptoms as drug-induced psychosis and too often, misdiagnosis can lead to the wrong treatment approach.
Some of the most common symptoms that occur during cannabis-induced psychosis include:
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Cannabis Probably Does Cause Schizophrenia
Guest post by Erik Messamore, MD, Johnnys Ambassadors Scientific Advisory Board member
PSYCHOSIS IS ONE OF THE OLDEST AND BEST-DOCUMENTED RISKS OF CANNABIS USE.
Associations between cannabis use and psychosis appeared in the medical literature soon after cannabis was introduced into Western medical practice in the 1850s. Physicians of the 19thcentury accurately identified marijuanas therapeutic value. Medical textbooks and journals of that era described benefits in the treatment of pain, epilepsy, the sundowning phenomenon in dementia, muscle spasticity, menstrual pain, and other types of pain. So, our 19th-century predecessors accurately recognized the benefits that are being claimed in the 21st century. They also accurately described the risk of psychosis. Yet many today are unaware that cannabis poses any such risk.
No less than ten different peer-reviewed studies have shown strong correlation between the degree of cannabis exposure in earlier-life and the risk of schizophrenia in later-life. The risk of schizophrenia among regular cannabis users rises by an average of 300%. Some have reported a nearly 700% increased risk. This figure from Arianna Marconi and collaborators, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, sums up the status of the findings as of 2016.
BUT DOES IT PROVE CAUSATION?
THE CENTRAL FEATURE OF PSYCHOSIS OR SCHIZOPHRENIA
Schizophrenia And Weed Treatment Doesnt Seem To Work
Most research on marijuana and schizophrenia concludes that using the drug is not beneficial. Talk to your doctor about other treatment methods to manage your condition. These may include prescription medications as well as therapy. You should not self-medicate. A doctor should direct your treatment plan.
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Can Marijuna Treat Schizophrenia
While the cannabinoid THC can cause psychosis, another cannabinoid called cannabidiol may help fight it. Some researchers are studying it as a potential treatment option for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses that can cause psychosis, such as bipolar disorder.
However, people with schizophrenia should talk to their doctors before trying CBD for self-medication.
The United States Food and Drug Administration doesnt regulate products that contain CBD. That means CBD products may contain THC or other compounds that have negative effects on people with schizophrenia, including worsened symptoms and marijuana addiction.
If you have schizophrenia, you can lead a fulfilling life using other treatment methods, such as therapy, psychiatry, exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and strong support systems.
If you or someone you love struggles with marijuana abuse or another form of drug abuse, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn about our substance abuse and addiction treatment programs.
©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
What Is The Difference Between Psychosis And Schizophrenia
Psychosis and schizophrenia arent the same illness.
Psychosis is the name given to symptoms or experiences, which include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations make someone experience things differently to other people. This might be seeing things or hearing voices. Delusions are when people have unusual beliefs that other people dont have.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how someone thinks or feels. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions. But often it will have other symptoms like feeling flat or emotionless, or withdrawing from other people.
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Can Cannabis Use Cause Psychosis
Yes, but so can overuse of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, stimulants and hallucinogens. Psychosis is a symptom: a temporary disorientation that resembles a waking dream, with odd, imagined sights and sounds, often accompanied by paranoia or an ominous sensation. The vast majority of people who have this kind of psychotic experience do not go on to develop a persistent condition such as schizophrenia, which is characterized by episodes of psychosis that recur for years, as well as cognitive problems and social withdrawal.
The Bigger Picture: Marijuana Affects Regions Implicated In Schizophrenia
Although the marijuana only has a subtle affect on a majority of individual brain regions, the affect as a whole is significant. It completely disrupts brain wave activity across the prefrontal cortex and hippocampal regions. These are some of the most important regions in regards to memory and making decisions. Coincidentally, both of these regions are implicated in schizophrenia.
When THC is given to healthy volunteer test subjects, it has been shown to induce psychotic symptoms, similar to those who have schizophrenia.
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The Effects Of Cannabis Use On The Incidence Of Psychosis
Given this evidence, has the incidence of schizophrenia, particularly early-onset acute cases, changed during the 1970s and 1980s, when there have been very substantial increases in cannabis use among young adults in Australia and North America? A study modelling trends in the incidence of psychoses in Australia did not find clear evidence of any increase in incidence following steep increases in cannabis use during the 1980s 24. A more recent modelling study in the UK 25 suggested that it may be too early to detect any effect of cannabis use on the incidence of psychoses, because rates of cannabis use only increased during the 1990s in that country. A recent British 26) and a Swiss study 27 reported suggestive evidence of an increased incidence of psychoses among males in recent birth cohorts with the highest rates of cannabis use in adolescence. This work needs to be replicated in future research.
Can You Use Cannabis To Alleviate Schizophrenia Symptoms
Data from a indicates that people living with psychotic disorders may be more likely than others to turn to cannabis use.
Researchers speculate that living with a psychotic disorder could make the effects of cannabis more pleasurable.
So while you might think you feel better when youre using a cannabis product, this doesnt necessarily mean this substance is treating your schizophrenia or any other psychotic disorder.
A 2021 systematic review trials found no changes in schizophrenia symptoms and cognition for people using smoked or oral THC. The same review also found CBD results to be inconclusive.
Can Heavy Use Cause Schizophrenia Or Other Syndromes
That is the big question, and so far the evidence is not strong enough to answer one way or the other. Even top scientists who specialize in marijuana research are divided, drawing opposite conclusions from the same data.
Ive been doing this research for 25 years, and its polarizing even among academics, said Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center. This is what the marijuana field is like.
The debate centers on the distinction between correlation and causation. People with psychotic problems often use cannabis regularly this is a solid correlation, backed by numerous studies. But it is unclear which came first, the cannabis habit or the psychoses. Children who later develop schizophrenia often seem to retreat into their own world, stalked periodically by bizarre fears and fantasies well outside the range of usual childhood imagination, and well before they are exposed to cannabis. Those who go on to become regular marijuana users often use other substances as well, including alcohol and cigarettes, making it more difficult for researchers to untangle causation.
Yet nicotine attracts nowhere near the concern that cannabis does, in part because the two drugs are so different in their everyday effects: mildly stimulated versus stoned. Indeed, some scientists have studied nicotine as a partial treatment for schizophrenia, to blunt the disorders effects on thinking and memory.
Cannabis And Psychosis Have Long Been Linked Even If The Connection Is Not Understood A New Study Sheds Some Light On The Issue
One of cannabis most concerning connections is the one it has with psychosis. While not wholly understood, this link is significant, with several studies indicating that people who smoke large amounts of weed on a daily basis are five times more likely to develop psychosis than others, depending on the age in which marijuana is first consumed and the individuals genetic vulnerabilities. Now, new study provides some much-needed information and context on the topic.
Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the study looked into the connection between schizophrenia and cannabis and tried to provide answers to a question that has long been unanswered does cannabis use cause schizophrenia, or do people who suffer from schizophrenia are more likely to seek out the drug?
The study looked into young subjects, all within the ages of 13-16, who filled out annual self-reports of past-year cannabis use and psychotic symptoms. The findings spotted clear links between frequent cannabis use and more psychotic symptoms. Subjects who reported cannabis use in the previous year were more likely to experience psychotic symptoms a year afterward, indicating some form of causation.
The majority of people can use cannabis safely. Still, we shouldnt turn a blind eye to those who are exposed to greater risks.
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Schizophrenia Linked To Marijuana Use Disorder Is On The Rise Study Finds
The proportion of schizophrenia cases linked with problematic use of marijuana has increased over the past 25 years, according to a new study from Denmark.
In 1995, 2% of schizophrenia diagnoses in the country were associated with cannabis use disorder. In 2000, it increased to around 4%. Since 2010, that figure increased to 8%, the study found.
I think it is highly important to use both our study and other studies to highlight and emphasize that cannabis use is not harmless, said Carsten Hjorthøj, an associate professor at the Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health and an author of the study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, via email.
There is, unfortunately, evidence to suggest that cannabis is increasingly seen as a somewhat harmless substance. This is unfortunate, since we see links with schizophrenia, poorer cognitive function, substance use disorders, etc, Hjorthøj wrote.
Previous research has suggested that the risk of schizophrenia is heightened for people who use cannabis, and the association is particularly driven by heavy use of the drug. Manyresearchers hypothesize that cannabis use may be a component cause, which interacts with other risk factors, to cause the condition.
What Is Thc Induced
THC-induced psychosis is a set of symptoms that can occur after ingesting typically high levels of THC. Its a break with reality and is often accompanied with audio and/or visual hallucinations, paranoia, suspicion, and delusional thought. It is not at all uncommon for cannabis-induced psychosis to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, as the symptoms are similar. A 5-year follow-up review of patients who totally abstained after a first episode of cannabis-induced psychosis were found to never again relapse.10
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Can Cannabis Be Therapeutic For Schizophrenia
Not all cannabis products involve THC.
Cannabidiol is another compound found in the cannabis plant that may have some therapeutic effects on schizophrenia. Unlike THC, CBD doesnt typically have psychoactive properties.
CBD may counteract the effects of THC, and some suggests it may help to alleviate psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia as effectively as certain prescription medications and with fewer side effects.
Other 2017 research , however, notes that CBD may increase experiences of hallucinations and negative symptoms in some people, even though it may improve other features of psychosis.
While many ongoing studies are still investigating the uses of cannabis products, like CBD in therapeutic approaches to schizophrenia, these products are not yet considered mainstream.
Ways Others Have Found Useful To Help Them Quit
Find other things that give you what the drug used to provide. For example, if you use cannabis when bored or lonely, plan other activities to deal with boredom or loneliness.
Plan ahead of time what to say to turn down cannabis if it is offered to you.
Avoid situations or activities where you know you will feel tempted to use.
Spend time with friends who dont use cannabis or other street drugs.
Visit with friends who do use cannabis in places where it will not be possible to use it.
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Losing Touch With Reality
One of the signs that someone may be experiencing psychosis of any kind is when they seem to be losing touch with reality, meaning they cannot differentiate between what is real and what is not. Psychiatry might call this depersonalization or derealization or dissociation and similar tags. The person may start to forget things or have difficulty interacting with others or with their environment. They are out of touch with themself, their body, and their location in the real world.
Emotion Mood And Behavioral Changes
A persons behavior and speech may change, and they might speak in a dull monotone or lack facial expressions.
Their movements might suddenly become agitated or childlike. Alternatively, a person may become catatonic and have a very limited response to their surroundings.
Other common changes include social withdrawal and difficulty making decisions or carrying out everyday tasks.
- support with education and employment
The treatment for psychosis or schizophrenia may include psychotherapy and medications, such as antipsychotic drugs.
People may also require therapies that help reduce cannabis use. These may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy : CBT is a type of psychotherapy that gives people strategies to identify and change negative patterns of thought and behavior.
- Contingency management: This approach involves frequent monitoring of the behavior that a person is working to change and provides incentives or rewards for positive changes.
- Motivational enhancement therapy: This therapy aims to motivate the person to use their internal resources to engage in treatment and create positive changes.
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