Schizophrenia and Marijuana

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An increasing number of scientific studies conducted in recent years have found a significant relationship between marijuana use and schizophrenia, with the use of marijuana found to about double an individual's risk of developing the illness. But does marijuana use actually cause schizophrenia? Scientific studies have yet to establish a causal relationship, leaving this a question open for debate.

What do we know?

Studies have found connections between THC (marijuana's primary psychoactive ingredient) and brain abnormalities that lead to symptoms seen in schizophrenia, suggesting that marijuana use could possibly trigger or exacerbate the illness. Other studies have consistently found that young people who regularly use marijuana increase their risk of developing schizophrenia and experience an earlier onset of the illness than they general population.

What do we think?

Many experts believe that marijuana use has the potential to trigger schizophrenia in people who already have a genetic vulnerability to the disease. There is not a lot of evidence to suggest that people with no predisposition to schizophrenia will develop the illness due to cannabis use (although it should be pointed out that it isn't always possible for people who are vulnerable to schizophrenia to be aware of that fact).

The Bottom Line

Marijuana is the most widely used drug among schizophrenics, but it isn't clear whether people begin using marijuana as a way to cope with schizophrenia symptoms, or develop schizophrenia symptoms as a result of marijuana use. The only thing that can be said for sure is that some relationship exists. So if you're looking to decrease your chances of developing schizophrenia, avoiding marijuana couldn't hurt.

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