2018 study says the link between heavy cannabis use and psychosis is beyond dispute. So, what does this mean and who does it affect?
Psychosis and its effectsPsychosis is a mental disorder where someone cannot tell the difference between reality and what’s in their head. They believe in and see things that are not real and are obviously confused in their thinking. Symptoms can include:
- delusional thinking
- difficulty expressing emotions
- hearing voices that are not there
- feeling paranoid
- disorganised speech and thinking
- loss of motivation
- lack of interest in talking
- loss of the ability to take the initiative
- loss of focus
- drug dependency.
Effects of psychosisPsychosis can be part of or associated with other mental disorders such as:
- Bipolar disorder. The psychosis related to bipolar disorder is more about mood rather than thought disturbances.
- Depression with psychosis. This refers to someone with severe depression who also displays psychotic symptoms. But they do not have the mania of bipolar.
- Post traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder occurs after a traumatic event. People can experience hallucinations or flashbacks for up to a month.
- Delusional disorder. Delusional disorder is when someone has strong beliefs in something that is not real or true.
- Drug-induced psychosis. LSD, alcohol and cocaine can cause symptoms of drug-induced psychosis to emerge.
- Brief psychotic disorder. Brief psychotic disorder lasts for less than a month. It is usually triggered by a major traumatic or stressful event.
- Schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective refers to having the symptoms of a mood disorder and schizophrenia. These symptoms can occur simultaneously or alternate between each other.
- Schizophreniform disorder. This refers to someone with psychotic symptoms for less than 6 months.
- Organic psychosis. Organic psychosis can be the result of a head injury or illness.
Who does it affect?There appears to be genetic links. This means some people are more susceptible to psychosis when they use cannabis. There is still little understanding of how this works. People who tend to be paranoid normally can be at higher risk. As too are people who have survived childhood trauma. Teenagers who start using cannabis and come from a background of cannabis use are also at high risk of developing psychosis. The type of cannabis people use can also affect the likelihood of psychosis. The higher the THC content, the higher the risk in regular users. There are different cannabis strains that have different levels of THC. One of the most well-known is skunk. For years it has been popular because of the high it gives when used. But, this carries a higher risk of people becoming paranoid and anxious and developing or having a psychotic episode.
Cannabis is also good for mental healthCannabis is an enigma. On the one hand it contains THC, which has a causal link to psychosis. On the other it also contains cannabidoil (CBD). And this can be like an inbuilt antidote to the effects of the THC. This could be because CBD partially blocks the receptor THC binds to. CBD also has the ability to stop a chemical in the brain called anandamide. This is also found in chocolate and makes you feel happiness. Using CBD in isolation shows it does not cause psychotic effects or make the user high. A recent study showed CBD has antipsychotic properties and can help treat schizophrenia. But another study using CBD to treat schizophrenia showed it did not help at all. This means there needs further research into the area for definitive answers.
Legalising cannabisMost of the studies look at the use of illicit cannabis when analysing a causal link to psychosis. There is no way to control the THC levels in this type of cannabis. No one knows where it comes from. Some could contain contaminants like heavy metals, chemical residues and other toxins. These could also cause people to develop psychosis as well using marijuana. There is no quality assurance for illicit marijuana.
Risks of cannabis induced psychosisIn the future, cannabis quality will standardise with formulas for medicinal use. This will reduce the risk of psychosis. Currently the high use of illicit cannabis increases the risk of psychotic episodes. It depends on the type of marijuana you use on whether you are at risk of developing cannabis induced psychosis. When using CBD products, there is little or no risk of a psychic episode. THC is chemical linked to the risk of increased psychosis.
Mr. BC Seeds
Mr. BC Seeds is an over educated old school hippy who has been involved in the cannabis industry since the 1970's. He is one of the most experienced marijuana breeders in Canada if not the entire world. He was the first to use the most advanced breeding techniques in 2008 to create 42 of the world's strongest cannabis strains. He has been writing in-depth articles about cannabis in Canada for decades and looks forward to continue bringing you cutting edge cannabis strains for the decades to come. Mr. BC Seeds uses a "pen name" because he still travels the world collecting cannabis strains and continues researching cannabis in laboratories of non-legalized countries.