“We never knew. We thought marijuana wasn’t even addictive and that it was less harmful than alcohol. Why did nobody tell us?”
This typically tragic message from parents is increasing; they’re desperate to learn more about the strong association between adolescent marijuana use and psychosis.
More research, this time from Northwestern University, reinforces the strong association between marijuana use and psychosis. So, we’ve decided to revisit this issue with this guide to reputable research conducted around the world — and writing we’ve compiled here on drthurstone.com.
Now, in light of our President’s uneducated statement, giving a false sense of security has been closely followed by a myriad of professionals speaking with dissenting voices, here’s one more.
First, here’s a refresher on psychosis after researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland showed how marijuana use during adolescence causes specific changes in regions of the brain associated with psychosis and the psychotic disorder schizophrenia.
“Psychosis is a medical term that describes auditory and visual hallucinations. Simply put, people who are psychotic are delusional. They may see or hear things that aren’t real. Their minds often play terrible tricks on them that surface as extreme paranoia and anxiety. There are different psychotic disorders, but people tend to be most familiar with schizophrenia — which is one of the most emotionally difficult diagnoses for me to deliver to young people and their families.
“The first study revealing the link between adolescent marijuana use and the development of psychosis in early adulthood was released in Sweden in 1988. Since then, six other large studies have been conducted. Like that first Swedish investigation, they have shown a two-to-four-fold increase in the development of psychosis in young adults who used marijuana during adolescence. These studies have controlled for more than 60 variables, including gender, family history of psychosis, pre-existence of psychosis and the use of other substances along with marijuana. All of these studies have reinforced the relationship between adolescent marijuana use and the development of psychosis.”
Northwestern researchers’ findings were published in December 2013 in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Their report is titled, “Cannabis-Related Working Memory Deficits and Associated Subcortical Morphological Differences in Healthy Individuals and Schizophrenia Subjects.” Its authors are Matthew J. Smith, Derin J. Cobia, Lei Wang, Kathryn I. Alpert, Will J. Cronenwett, Morris B. Goldman, Daniel Mamah, Deanna M. Barch, Hans C. Breiter and John G. Csernansky.
While this study did not examine the onset of psychosis, it did show adolescent marijuana use was associated with structural changes in the brain consistent with the structures observed in people who suffer from schizophrenia, which includes psychosis. Read more ___