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Marijuana-Induced Psychosis Is Increasing

Specialists in Washington and London Explain Links to Pot and Psychosis

More doctors and other specialists are going public to speak about the dangers of psychosis related to marijuana. An article published in My Northwest recently needs to be taken seriously.     Paul Hunziker, a licensed chemical dependency specialist in Renton, Washington explained that researchers have known for years marijuana can lead to everything from paranoia to depression, but the problem is expanding significantly.    Duane Stone, a mental health specialist in Seattle, said: “I get lots of first break kind where this person doesn’t have an experience with mental illness, they don’t have a diagnosis, they’re 30 or 40-years-old. And the only thing they’ve been doing has been smoking marijuana for the last year or two.” He goes onto say, “It’s a daily kind of thing.”

In Olympia, Washington, Providence St. Peter Hospital attributes this increase in psychosis to the practice of “dabbing.”  “That sudden blast of cannabis can trigger extreme paranoia, hallucinations or delusions — often a few days or even weeks after consumption,” according to those seeking medical treatment, reports TJ LaRoque. In Washington, marijuana was legalized in December, 2012, and marijuana stores opened in July, 2014.

Medications Don’t Work Well for Psychosis with Cannabis Users

Marijuana users need to know that if they end up in psychiatric hospitals, their chances of recovery are less than those who don’t use marijuana. First of all the marijuana users are more likely to have a relapse after the first episode of psychosis. Furthermore, anti-psychotic medications are less likely to be effective for the cannabis users.  A new study out of Great Britain highlights these difficulties.

Psychosis plus pot is a bad mix.  Rashmi Patel, lead researcher from the Department of Psychosis Studies at King’s College, London said: “We’re not entirely sure why that is, but it’s possible for whatever reason cannabis use makes it less likely that anti-psychotic treatment will work as well in people with psychotic disorders.”  (It should be noted that antipsychotics are known to be ineffective in most cases of drug-induced psychosis including LSD, PCP, meth, etc.)

This finding is important since the marijuana industry wants to use marijuana to treat psychiatric problems.   Marijuana makes the course of psychiatric illness worse. The finding is relevant since there has been an increased number of hospital admissions for psychosis and other mental health admissions in localities that have legalized marijuana.

Providence St. Peter Hospital reports there are one or two new psychosis emergency admissions each day. The standard treatment for marijuana induced psychosis is the anti-psychotic medication risperdone.  Anti-psychotics are like band-aids; for long-term results,  substance abuse or addiction treatment may be necessary.  Unfortunately our current health care system treats acute symptoms rather than root causes.  Unless the patients are rigid about staying off of marijuana, the problem may return.  We hope this new information can bring about better treatment for marijuana-related mental health problems. 

States considering medical marijuana or any form of legalization need to know about the increase of mental health care needs and be ready to pay for it. A psychosis from marijuana is not necessary a death sentence, as Vice recently reported the story of Devan Fuentes, who had a marvelous recovery.
The observations of doctors in the state of Washington are substantiated by numerous studies.

Read Updates on the Marijuana-Psychosis Link

Marijuana is Linked to Psychosis and Schizophrenia.

Here’s other websites on the marijuana – psychosis connection.