ALARMING: US Teens Cannabis Usage Tied to 11-Fold Increase in Psychosis Risk 

US Teens Cannabis Usage Tied to 11-Fold Increase in Psychosis Risk. Credit | SciTechDaily
US Teens Cannabis Usage Tied to 11-Fold Increase in Psychosis Risk. Credit | SciTechDaily

Recent Research Findings 

Researchers from the University of Toronto outlined this after they published a new study on Wednesday, which stated that any teenager who had used cannabis in the last year bears the highest risk of developing psychotic disorders. 

The findings would show that it is individuals who use cannabis are bound to be affected by psychotic disorders, meaning that they are 11fold more vulnerable. 

Adverse childhood experiences such as emergency room visits and hospitalizations highlighted that psychotic disorders of teenagers were 27 times higher than expected. 

Dr. Leslie Hulvershorn, a child psychiatrist and chair of the psychiatry department at Indiana University who was not involved with the study, said, “When I see youths with psychotic symptoms, they’re almost always using lots of cannabis,” as NBC News reported. 

She added, “It would be unusual to see someone present with psychotic symptoms to a hospital and not have smoked cannabis.” 

Cannabis and Psychotic Disorder Risk 

Extensive research linked cannabis use to a rising risk of psychotic disorders, especially among adolescents. High-potency marijuana is particularly associated with mental disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. 

US Teens Cannabis Usage Tied to 11-Fold Increase in Psychosis Risk. Credit | Reuters
US Teens Cannabis Usage Tied to 11-Fold Increase in Psychosis Risk. Credit | Reuters

Andre McDonald, the study lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, stated, “I think that there’s enough evidence out there for us to give recommendations that teens probably shouldn’t be using cannabis,” as NBC News reported. 

“If we can somehow ask teens to delay their use until their brain has developed a little further, I think that would be good for public health,” McDonald added. 

Study Findings and Public Health Implications 

McDonald emphasized that the effects of cannabis use are concerning, especially in relation to schizophrenia and psychotic disorders on the user. 

Like many other studies focused on marijuana and psychotic disorders, this new article cannot conclusively stand for marijuana as the actual root cause of psychotic disorders. 

Garn, as we stated earlier, there could be some form of logical reason as to why the group of teenage individuals at a higher risk of developing psychotic disorders are the same group that would use cannabis, and this is unable to be explained by the degree of association as observed by Hulvershorn. 

“The magnitude of the effect here is just hard to believe that it’s not related to cannabis,” stated Hulvershorn. 

As per the research results, it was found that there is no link between cannabis usage and psychotic disorders among those from age 20 to 33. 

Dr. Kevin Gray, a professor of psychiatry and director of addiction sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina who was not involved with the study, said, “There’s something about that stage of brain development that we haven’t yet fully characterized — where there’s a window of time where cannabis use may increase the risk of psychosis,” as NBC News reported. 

“This study really puts a fine point on delaying cannabis use until your 20s may mitigate one of the most potentially serious risks,” he added. 

Survey results by experts 

The authors utilized annual data from the Canadian Community Health Survey but only employed the data from the questionnaires completed between 2009 and 2012. 

Subjects also had probes up to nine years subsequent to the first examination to establish if they had visited doctors or emergency facilities or if they had been admitted. 

From this patient population, it emerged that 6 of the five adolescent psychotic disorder patients who were admitted/had visited the emergency room had prior cannabis use. 

Gray said, “We see this replicated over and over again that there’s this developmental window of adolescence that’s very high-risk,” as NBC News reported.