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Marijuana use linked to incessant subclinical psychotic signs in adolescents

Marijuana use linked to incessant subclinical psychotic signs in adolescents

10-03 | CDAH Team

Marijuana is the most popular amongst all the illicit drugs in the U.S. Despite a majority of the American population voicing their opinion in favor of marijuana legalization, law enforcement agencies and government medical advisory bodies are reluctant to allow decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level. Though medical marijuana is known to be an effective pain reliever for those afflicted with chronic pain or war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), its constant association with mental illnesses has raised doubts over its overall effectiveness. Scientists have not yet been able to clearly identify marijuana’s role in psychotic disorders or if the onset of psychotic experiences elicits use of the drug among people as means of self-medication.

Examining cannabis impact on teenagers during periods of abstinence

Abuse of marijuana among teenagers is common. So is the aggravated risk of them suffering from unrelenting subclinical and clinical psychotic symptoms after they are subjected to frequent marijuana use. A group of scientists conducted a study to understand if teenagers smoking marijuana regularly manifested a systematic heightening of the subclinical psychotic symptoms that continued even after exercising restraint for a prolonged period of time. The study titled, “Concurrent and Sustained Cumulative Effects of Adolescent Marijuana Use on Subclinical Psychotic Symptoms,” was published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry in May 2016. For their research the scientists observed 1009 male participants from Pittsburgh public schools, studying in classes I and VII. They collated data pertaining to regularity of marijuana use and investigated signs of subclinical psychotic disorder and other associated symptoms. They collected the data each year from the time they turned 13 years till they were 18 years old.

Effect of marijuana on adolescents’ psychological health tracked

The findings indicated that for every year of marijuana use, there was a rise in the level of consequent subclinical psychotic signs by 21 percent. An increase in paranoia and hallucinations was also observed. It was found that the impact of frequent marijuana use and the consequent signs of subclinical psychotic disorder continued despite teenagers having stopped smoking weed for a year. The authors observed, “For every additional year adolescents engage in regular marijuana use, their risk of exhibiting subclinical paranoia and hallucinations in future years increases in a linear manner, and the effect of cumulative use remains significant even during periods of abstinence lasting a year.”

The researchers added that the effects of marijuana use existed despite having controlled “all time-stable and several time-varying confounds,” while they found no evidence of reverse causation. Contrary to the popular belief of psychologically distressed people using marijuana for self-medication purposes, the scientists found no proof to corroborate this theory.

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The study has its own limitations since only boys were interviewed and observed. Detailed research is needed to tally the results with female respondents on a large scale irrespective of demographic characteristics.

The findings come at a point when more states are gearing up to allow legal marijuana use. While adolescents look at marijuana simply as “pot,” the study clearly reveals the relation between teenage weed use and consequent symptoms of psychosis, and emphasizes the necessity to abstain. The observations also stress the need for physicians to screen their mentally ill patients for unbridled marijuana use during their adolescent phase. More than the increasing prevalence of marijuana use disorders, the biggest hurdle Americans face is inaccessibility to available medical facilities for treatment purposes. The “War against Drugs” has gained strength owing to bipartisan laws being enacted to curb the rising drug epidemic. This makes it helpful for policy makers to implement necessary policies to disallow marijuana use by adolescents that in turn would help reduce the potential of teenagers developing constant subclinical psychotic symptoms.

If you or your loved one is addicted to drugs, you can contact the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline. Our representatives can help you find the best Drug Abuse Treatment Centers in Colorado. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 or chat online or to know about Drug Rehab Centers in Colorado.


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