February 26, 2020

420 - Psychosis and Marijuana
It’s not sensible to wait for absolute proof that (marijuana) cannabis is a component cause of psychosis. There’s already ample evidence to warrant public education around the risks of heavy use of cannabis, particularly the high-potency varieties. For many reasons, we should have public warnings.”

~Sir Robin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research, King’s College, London

According to drug experts around the world, chronic marijuana use carries a risk of mental illness that is serious enough to warrant public health campaigns.

The scientific community in the US, Australia, and Europe have warned that regular cannabis use can increase the likelihood of psychosis in individuals who already have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Psychosis is a severe mental disorder with a long list of symptoms, including:
  • Confusion/Concentration Problems
  • Severe Depression
  • Sleep Abnormalities
  • Heightened Anxiety
  • Extreme Paranoia
  • Social Withdrawal, often to the point of near-isolation
  • Loss of Reality/Delusions
  • Visual, Auditory, and Tactile Hallucinations
  • Incoherent speech
  • Suicidal Ideation

Compared to non-users, people who use marijuana have an elevated risk of psychosis that is 40% higher, according to a study by researchers at King’s College in London. Tellingly, frequent cannabis users’ likelihood of exhibiting psychotic symptoms is up to 200% greater than that of nonusers, suggesting that the risk increases with longer exposure.

Sir Murray, one of the study’s authors, says,

This paper suggests that we could prevent almost one-quarter of cases of psychosis if no one smoked high-potency cannabis.”

The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is associated with psychotic illness, and today’s marijuana strains contain MUCH MORE THC than in the past.

40 years ago, the average marijuana strain found in the United States contained less than 1% THC. In the mid-1990s, the percentage of THC had quadrupled to approximately 4%.  Now, the 13% is typical, and some strains reach 37% potency.

Worse, cannabis concentrates such as oil or wax are realizing skyrocketing popularity for use in electronic vaporizers – and 27% of US high school students who have used vaporizers or e-cigarettes admit to vaporizing marijuana. Some cannabis concentrates contain 99% THC.

In the United Kingdom, the use of high-potency “skunk” cannabis increased dramatically 1999-2008 – jumping from 15% to 81%, with an average potency reaching 15% THC. Two generations, the average strain of cannabis in the Netherlands contained 3% THC, but today, it commonly reaches 20%.

Sir Murray says, “There is no doubt that high-potency cannabis, such as skunk, causes more problems than traditional cannabis, or hash. This is the case for dependence, but especially for psychosis.”

Despite its increasingly-legal status, marijuana is an addictive drug, especially when used by teenagers and young adults. Because their brains are still developing, the effects of marijuana are magnified significantly.

If your child is using marijuana or any other intoxicating substance, the best thing you can do for their health and for their future is to get them into specialized treatment that meets their unique needs as teenagers. Treatment that is designed for adults may not give them all the help they need.

Teensavers Treatment Centers has been providing drug rehab services in Orange County, California, for over 35 years. With a variety of treatment options—detoxification, residential, and outpatient—Teensavers can provide the optimum level of care for teens struggling with addictive or emotional disorders.

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