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A Bi-directional Link to Psychosis Found in Teens Who Smoke Pot

Do you know someone who spokes pot and you’re convinced that it’s causing them to lose their mind? Well, there might be some evidence to support that assumption. We know that marijuana definitely impacts the brain and when an adolescent smokes marijuana they may be at a higher risk for impaired learning, memory and motivation. (Read: Your Brain on Drugs – Marijuana)

Reuters Health is reporting that new research done on 2,120 Dutch teenage marijuana smokers prove that there is a bi-lateral link between smoking weed and psychosis.

What exactly does “bi-lateral link” mean?

A bi-lateral link essentially means that one variable (the smoking of weed) or another (psychosis) is the main cause of the psychosis. So either these teenagers are smoking weed and developing psychosis or they already exhibit symptoms of psychosis and are smoking to cope with it.

Sounds about right either way.

Dr. Gregory Seeger, medical director for addiction services at Rochester General Hospital told Reuters Health that researchers have been especially concerned about what tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active property in pot, could do to a teenager’s growing brain.

“That’s a very vulnerable period of time for brain development,” and individuals with a family history of schizophrenia and psychosis seem to be more sensitive to the toxic effects of THC, he said.

A 2010 study of 3,800 Australian teenagers found that those who used marijuana were twice as likely to develop psychosis compared to teens who never smoked pot.

But that study also found that those who suffered from hallucinations and delusions when they were younger were also more likely to use pot early on.

So that takes us back to the bi-lateral correlation of which came first. There’s never exact data when it comes to something like this. In a perfect world, teenagers would seek help for their symptoms of psychosis before they attempted using marijuana. And vice versa, in seeking help after they started having psychosis after smoking marijuana. All that in the name of perfect data but we know that’s highly unlikely.

So which came first: pot or psychosis?

Griffith-Lendering and her colleagues used information on 2,120 Dutch teenagers, who were surveyed about their pot use (and took psychosis vulnerability tests) when they were about 14, 16 and 19 years old.

Overall, the researchers found that about 44 percent of the teenagers reported smoking pot, and there was a bidirectional link between pot use and psychosis.

For example, using pot at 16 years old was linked to psychotic symptoms three years later, and psychotic symptoms at age 16 were linked to pot use at age 19.

This was true even when the researchers accounted for mental illness in the kids’ families, alcohol use and tobacco use.

Also, the new study cannot prove one causes the other. Genetics may also explain the link between pot use and psychosis, said Griffith-Lendering.

“We can say for some people that cannabis comes first and psychosis comes second, but for some people they have some (undiagnosed) psychosis (and) perhaps cannabis makes them feel better,” said Dr. Marta Di Forti, of King’s College, London, who was not involved with the new research.

Di Forti, who has studied the link between pot and psychosis, told Reuters Health she considers pot a risk factor for psychosis – not a cause.

“Given the severity and impact of psychotic disorders, prevention programs should take this information into consideration,” she said.

I agree. This is very important research and prevention and treatment programs should be readily available for all persons in need. If your loved one is in need of alcohol or marijuana addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.


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