Pot And Psychosis Go Hand-In-Hand In Teenagers

    December 26, 2012

It’s believed that psychosis is oftentimes a side effect of marijuana use. It’s considered especially prevalent in teenagers who use the drug. A recent study, however, has found that some teenagers use the drug to treat preexisting mental health conditions that fall under the psychosis moniker.

Reuters reports that a new Dutch study looked to map the relationship between pot use and psychosis in teenagers. The study’s lead author, Merel Griffith-Lendering, equated the question to asking which came first – the chicken or the egg? In other words, do teenagers developer psychosis from smoking pot or do teenagers smoke pot to treat psychosis? The interesting find is that both were happening at the same time.

The study surveyed over 2,000 Dutch teenagers who were aged 14, 16 and 19. The teenagers were questioned about their pot use, and then took a psychosis vulnerability test. The results found that those who smoked pot at age 16 developed psychotic tendencies by age 19. The reverse held true as those who exhibited psychotic tendencies at age 16 had started smoking pot by age 19. As is the case in most studies like this, correlation does not imply causation. The study’s authors say that genetics may play a role in the use of pot in teenagers.

So, what do the researchers have to say about their findings? Most agree that marijuana use is not harmless, especially in the developing brains of teenagers. Griffith-Lendering says that prevention programs should take this new found information into account when approaching marijuana use in teenagers. There are better ways to treat psychosis than drugs, and those who are already smoking pot should be made aware that they are at risk of developing psychotic tendencies, such as hallucinations and schizophrenia later in life.