Is There A Connection Between Schizophrenia And Marijuana?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is listed in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is a chronic condition that is characterized by episodes in which the individual is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that schizophrenia is “a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” The distorted thinking patterns that present with schizophrenia can lead to disabling symptoms, as they can interfere with an individual’s ability to function in his or her daily life. The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, but most commonly involve disorganized speech, visual and/ or auditory hallucinations, delusions, certain antisocial behavior patterns (e.g., involuntary movements, poor hygiene practices, catatonia, etc.), and an impaired ability to function appropriately. Schizophrenia is said to affect less than one percent of the American population. There is no known cure for schizophrenia, but long-term treatment can help an individual learn to effectively manage and prevent the worsening of his or her symptoms.
Marijuana, also known as weed, is a mind-altering drug that is made from dried out leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant. The specific chemical in the cannabis plant that elicits the mind-altering effects when ingested is called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). There are several methods of ingestion such as smoked via hand rolled cigarettes, also known as joints, packed into pipes, and/ or smoked out of water pipes (bongs), inhaled, or vaped via a vaporizer (using marijuana extract), baked into food (edibles) or steeped into a tea to drink. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified marijuana as a Schedule I Substance, which are defined as “drugs, substances, or chemicals…with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in ten marijuana users over the age of eighteen will become addicted, and one in six marijuana users under age eighteen will develop an addiction.
There is a scientifically unsubstantiated notion that smoking marijuana can cause schizophrenia. According to leading experts, it is highly unlikely for marijuana to trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in healthy teenagers that are not at risk for developing the disorder. Research findings have illuminated a clear correlation between marijuana and schizophrenia: “individuals with a stronger genetic predisposition to schizophrenia are more likely to start using marijuana, use it more regularly, and consume more of it over their lifetime.” It is, however, important to bear in mind that abusing drugs and/ or alcohol of any kind has been known to awaken dormant mental health ailments in individuals.
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