Marijuana Use Linked to Increased Risk of Psychosis

A number of newly published studies are finding that teenagers who smoke marijuana have an increased chance of developing schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis.

One study, which followed youths from adolescence to young adulthood, found that smoking marijuana doubled their chance of developing psychosis within the following decade. This raises the risk of developing psychosis to 1 in 5 for those with a close family member who suffers from a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia, and 14 in 1,000 for those without a family history of psychosis.

Another interesting study, published in February 2011, found that marijuana use is associated with an earlier onset of psychosis, by nearly 3 years.

Do these findings mean that youthful marijuana use causes schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders? Not necessarily. While there definitely appears to be a correlation, that doesn't mean smoking marijuana directly causes schizophrenia. Many scientists suggest that marijuana use might instead increase a person's vulnerability to psychosis, perhaps by interfering with a teenager's developing brain.

As we wait for scientists to pinpoint the precise relationship between marijuana use and schizophrenia, it's a good idea to be aware of the potential dangers. Everyone, especially those with a family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, should be cautious when it comes to the use of mind-altering drugs like marjiuana – twice the risk of developing psychosis is reason to think twice.

Read more: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/teens-who-smoke-pot-at-risk-for-later...

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