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Is There a Link Between Marijuana Use and Psychosis in Young Adults:

"For years, various studies suggest that use of cannabis is associated with symptoms of psychosis. However in a recent study, after adjusting for confounding factors, researchers have found no significant increase in the odds of developing psychotic symptoms among individuals using only marijuana."

Marijuana has recently become a frequent topic of debates as a growing number of States are beginning to legalize its recreational use. In the US, marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug particularly among young adults. Notably, there is now a shift on how people view the harmful effects of the notorious drug. A lot of claims about marijuana's medicinal properties abound in the social media. On the other hand, researchers still remain drawn towards studying the effects on mental health of marijuana specifically among the developing minds of adolescents and the younger population.

Various studies previously suggested that the use of cannabis is associated with the symptoms of psychosis – both positive and negative – which includes the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Lack of Emotion
  • Inability to experience pleasure

The same studies have also linked marijuana use to the development of psychotic disorders later in life. What these vast studies neglect, however, is the fact that a huge portion – about 29% - of cannabis users also indulge in other forbidden substances. Those studies which evaluated poly-substance abuse are remarkably showing decreased correlation of cannabis use and psychotic disorders development among the users who are only using marijuana.

In a more recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine used data gathered by the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort or PNC. The team examined the data to determine relationship between the marijuana use, both alone and with other illicit substances, and psychotic disorders. The PNC comprised of 9,498 youths aged eight and 21 years old from the Philadelphia area. Patients aged 14 were excluded from the study, another five weren't included because of missing data and 32 who were found to be endorsing fake drugs were also excluded. Hence, the total resulting population was consisting of 4,171 patients with a mean age of 16.9 years.

The respondent's marijuana use was categorized as frequent, occasional or nonuser using self-assessment. And, using computerized screening tools psychotic symptoms and diagnosis, intellectual function, family history of substance abuse and trauma exposure were assessed.

Researchers have found no significant increase in the odds of psychotic symptoms development among individuals who were only using marijuana after eliminating other factors. They found out though, that when cannabis is combined with tobacco or other illegal substance use, it results to a significant increase in the risk of psychotic symptoms development. Furthermore, marijuana combined with other illegal drugs resulted in notably higher odds of developing positive symptoms while those who frequently use cannabis also had the odds of developing negative symptoms. None of the group had shown increased odds of developing hallucinations or delusions.

It is important to note though that the study has few limitations including:

  • The brevity or conciseness of the patient assessments.
  • The age of the PNC contingent.
  • Patients were relatively young that psychotic disorders may have not manifested yet.
  • Researchers haven't taken into account the possibility that some respondents could have been acutely intoxicated during the assessments.

Generally, there is a lack in studies examining the effects of marijuana use in the overall US population. Thus, more studies are needed to determine its effects on the developing minds. The researchers are hoping that the results of this research will urge a deeper investigation concerning drug use and its relationship with psychotic disorders development. the difficult memory of the disease. Hospitals, doctors, and some families are too close to euthanasia to suggest termination from suffering more from the disease.

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