Cannabis and Psychosis
In recent years, many states have passed laws that have legalized medical marijuana. Some, most notably Colorado, now allow legal recreational use of the drug. The federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule I drug. This category also includes such dangerous drugs as heroin and LSD. A growing number of people look at marijuana as relatively harmless, and recreational use is growing. However, this assessment of marijuana as safe might not be the case. There is quite a bit of recent research that shows a link between smoking cannabis and psychosis.
There may be a genetic component that ties marijuana use with psychotic breaks. These psychotic episodes are frequently linked to the illness known as schizophrenia. Research has shown that those who smoke daily and test positive for one variant of the ATK1 gene have a risk of psychosis that’s seven times greater than that of the general population.
Another study showed a different link that ties excessive marijuana use and psychosis together. It noted that adults who smoked excessively as teens and had a specific variant of the COMT gene were likely to have more severe cases of schizophrenia. The disease also progressed further in this segment of the population than it did in those who did not have the necessary variant of the COMT gene.
The level of THC in a dose of marijuana also appears to have an impact on the incidence of psychosis among users. Over the last decade, the percentage of THC in each marijuana joint has gone up in several markets. In 2008, the average potency was 8.9%. By 2017, the average potency was 17.1%, nearly double what it was just a decade earlier.
A study of Paris, London, and Amsterdam, cities that are known for having very accessible and very potent cannabis, showed that the incidence of psychosis was much higher in these cities than it was in cities in which marijuana is less potent. Other European cities have marijuana with lower concentrations of THC, and they also have lower rates of psychotic illness. This shows another possible correlation between cannabis and psychosis.
Frequency of Use Matters
Recent studies have shown that frequent use of marijuana can harm a user’s mental health. Daily use can be especially problematic when compared to occasional recreational use. People who smoke marijuana daily are three times as likely to have psychotic breaks with reality than those who don’t use the drug.
Another significant correlation between the use of marijuana and the incidence of psychosis is tied to the age at which a person starts using the drug. Some studies have shown that the use of marijuana in adolescence can contribute to psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia. It’s believed that cannabis use can impact brain development at this crucial time of life.
However, it’s important to remember that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation. There is also evidence that young people who are already liable to develop schizophrenia are more likely to smoke marijuana. Perhaps these youths use marijuana in an attempt to medicate themselves. Regardless, excessive use of marijuana before reaching adulthood can be an indicator of future psychotic illness.
Cannabis and Psychosis: How to Get Help
A quality drug rehab center can provide holistic care for those struggling with addiction to marijuana or other substances. Drug rehabilitation involves more than just a quick round of detox. A rehab center can also provide mental health services, individual counseling, and group therapy. True rehabilitation is a group effort that involves care for the entire person, mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you or a loved one needs help with mental illness that could be tied to long-term marijuana use, now is an excellent time to check with a drug rehabilitation center. Give us a call today. We want to help you overcome your addictions so that you can live your best life.
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin
- Foundation for a Drug-Free World: https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/lsd.html
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/marijuana.html
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/there-link-between-marijuana-use-psychiatric-disorders#akt1
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml
- npr: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/19/704948217/daily-marijuana-use-and-highly-potent-weed-linked-to-psychosis
- the fix: https://www.thefix.com/connection-between-heavy-marijuana-use-psychosis-explored
- Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/article/marijuana-and-psychosis/
- Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Learning Network: https://www.psychcongress.com/article/schizophrenia-risk-may-predict-cannabis-use