Could marijuana be linked to psychotic symptoms in teens? Show Notes

Wednesday, January 02, 2013 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Could marijuana be linked to psychotic symptoms in teens?   Or are psychotic teens more likely to use marijuana?

According to a story on Reuters Health, new research from the Netherlands has looked at the relationship between pot and psychosis.  

Earlier studies found links between marijuana use and psychosis, but scientists questioned whether pot use increased the risk of mental illness, or whether people were using pot to ease their psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.

Dr. Gregory Seeger, medical director for addiction services at Rochester General Hospital in upstate New York, says "What is interesting in this study is that both processes are going on at the same time.”

Dr. Seeger says researchers have been especially concerned about what (THC), the active property in marijuana, could do to a teenager's growing brain.

He points out that adolescence is a vulnerable period of time for brain development, and that individuals with a family history of schizophrenia and psychosis seem to be more sensitive to the toxic effects of THC.

In the Dutch study, the researchers found a “bidirectional link” between pot use and psychosis.

For example, using pot at 16 years old was linked to psychotic symptoms three years later, and psychotic symptoms at age 16 were linked to pot use at age 19.

The new study doesn’t prove that one causes the other, but Dr. Seeger believes there needs to be more public awareness of the connection.

He says: "I think the marijuana is not a harmless substance. Especially for teenagers, there should be more of a public health message out there that marijuana has a public health risk.”

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.

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