TEEN SOUL POWER
Marijuana and Mental Illness:
Research has long implicated cannabis as an exacerbating factor in mental illness where mental illness and/or personality problems are preexisting or concurrent conditions. Recent research has largely supported these earlier findings, but also implicates a greater role of marijuana with anxiety disorders, mood disorders and depression.
Troisi found that the severity of depression, anxiety and alexithymic symptoms (cognitive-emotional deficits) increased progressively with the degree of involvement with cannabis, and chronic use of cannabis was associated with a high prevalence of co-morbid psychiatric disorders.
Williams demonstrated that cannabis use predicted an increased risk of developing clinical psychosis, and cannabis users showed higher scores on schizotypy, borderline and psychoticism scales than non-users; that the risk of developing schizophrenia among heavy users was six times greater than among non-users; that for highly introspective individuals, marijuana use was associated with self-reports of poorer adult mental health; that greater dependence on alcohol and marijuana was found to be one determining factor predicting worse outcomes for youth in areas of criminality, conduct disorder, depression, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; and that cannabis dependence related significantly to suicide attempts and self-injury histories of youth. Other studies, including one by Juarez, implicated marijuana use in depression; panic reactions and suicide; and anti-social personality characteristics.
The American Psychiatric Association demonstrates the seriousness of marijuana effects beyond simple cannabis intoxication. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes Cannabis Intoxication Delirium, Cannabis Induced Psychotic Disorder with Delusions, Cannabis Induced Psychotic Disorder with Hallucinations, Cannabis Induced Anxiety Disorder, and Cannabis Related
Disorders not Otherwise Specified.
The Cannabis related mental disorders are quite serious, and many people find themselves as chronic clients in mental health programs or as mentally ill chemical abusers simply because of the effects of marijuana.
Early use of marijuana has been shown to double the risk of someone developing schizophrenia and other psychoses - including mania and bipolar disorder - and mood disorders. Also, it can worsen psychotic symptoms for those already ill, and trigger relapse. Also troubling, are effects of cannabis on acute or chronic impairment of attention, memory and psychomotor performance. It has been proven that these effects can contribute to reduced functioning and quality of life, as well as accidents and injuries.
The effects of smoking marijuana typically cause decreased activity in the posterior temporal lobes bilaterally. The damage can be mild or severe, depending on how long a person used, how much use occurred, what other substances were used and how vulnerable a particular brain is. “High Resolution Brain SPECT Imaging - Marijuana Smokers with AD/HD”, Daniel Amen, M.D., Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Volume 30, No. 2
● In Ireland, the number of children treated for mental disorders caused by smoking cannabis has quadrupled since the government downgraded the legal status of the drug, according to an article in the Sunday Times. Addaction, an Irish drug treatment program, told the Times that “three months after police stopped arresting anyone found in possession of small amounts of the drug, the overall number of users treated for such conditions rose 42%.”
● Regular marijuana use increases the risk of developing serious mental illness. As reported in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report (2005), the younger a person is when they begin to use marijuana, the more likely they are to develop serious mental illness in their lifetime. The report shows that more than 2,250,000 adults aged 18-to-25, who reported lifetime marijuana use, developed serious mental illness: 10.5% (almost 240,000) started using marijuana at age 18 or older; fully twice as many, 21% (more than 450,000) started before the age of 12. This report clearly indicates a correlation between marijuana use and the development of serious mental illness with the risk being higher the younger the onset of use.
●Marijuana Linked to I.Q. Decline: Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, compared the IQ scores of 74 participants who took IQ tests between the ages of 9-and-12 and then again between the ages of 17-and-20. Participants were tested for drug use throughout the study period. The researchers found that participants who smoked five-or-more marijuana cigarettes a week had a decline in their IQ scores compared to the test results taken in their preteen years. However, the IQ of those who smoked heavily and quit was not affected. The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
● Adolescents and young adults who are heavy users of marijuana are more likely than non-users to have disrupted brain development: “Diffusion Abnormalities in Adolescents and Young Adults with a History of Heavy Cannabis Use”, Ashtari, M., Cervellione, K., Cottone, J., Ardekani, B.A., Kumra, S., Journal of Psychiatric Research, January 2009.
● In February, 2010, researchers at Queensland Brain Institute and School of Population Health reported results of a study which began in the early 1980s. In the study, a group of 3800 children born in a Brisbane, Australia hospital were followed for almost 30 years. Results of this study offered some of the most credible and convincing evidence to date. Those who began marijuana use at an early age were THREE times more likely to suffer from some form of psychotic disorders by the time they reach the age of 21, including hallucinations, psychosis, delusions, and schizophrenia.
● Research suggests that delta-9-THC, the principal active ingredient in marijuana, can cause transient schizophrenia-like symptoms, such as suspiciousness, delusions, and impairments in memory and attention. The study, led by D. Cyril D'Souza, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, set out to explore a long-known association between cannabis and psychosis, Neuropsychopharmacology, June 2004.
Normal Brain vs. 2 Year Marijuana User Brain
Here we see a scan of a healthy brain of a non-marijuana user, taken from a SPECT scanner, which shows brain activity by detecting blood flow. The largely smooth surface shows that blood flow to this brain is good. Compare this with the pits and disruptions seen in the other image, where there is poor or no blood flow in the brain. This can have a dramatic effect on behavior, depending on which area of the brain is affected. Often these behavioral changes will be blamed on a psychological problem, when, in fact, there is a genuine biological basis for them – a basis caused by substance abuse.
This should only come as a shock to those who do not believe cannabis damages the brain. Cannabis squeezes down blood flow, leading to brain cell damage and death. Dr Amen’s research has found that it particularly affects the temporal lobes - the greatly enlarged black spots on either side of the middle of the picture. This area is responsible for memory. Dr. Amen suggests that this is the reason for the poor memory and lack of motivation that chronic users often report. This patient was a 16-year old boy who had used marijuana every day for two years. The scan came as a great shock to him.
(Source: “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”, Daniel G. Amen, M.D., professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Director of the Amen Clinics.)
Did you ever hear someone say pot is harmless and you can't get addicted to it? I believed that lie for many years.
After 35 years of using I tried to stop and realized that I was powerless over this drug. YES, it is a drug, not a harmless plant or natural herb that hurts no one.
I am one year a very grateful recovering addict. It took 3 months for my system to clear of this drug. I realize now how much damage to body, mind and relationships that it has caused. Like many, in the beginning, I only used socially with friends. It lowered my moral compass to where I experimented with many other hard drugs and alcohol. I was a functioning addict, always gainfully employed.
How could I be an addict? Not me! But I was. My addiction then caused me to then isolate where no one was allowed. I no longer believed in God. I had no friends, could not go more than a few hours without using. I almost lost my husband because the relationship with my drug always came first. Many years later of just existing, I am now living. I have a relationship with my Higher Power. I am thankful for this and try to take nothing for granted now.
My best day stoned is nothing compared to my worst day sober. I try not to regret the time wasted in addiction and I hope my story can prevent someone from believing the lies that this drug lulls you into.
My message is that marijuana is not a harmless or soft drug. It is a very subtle drug that wreaks the same havoc as other so called hard drugs. It took me 35 years to realize this.
Please don’t walk down this road… I promise it leads to nowhere.