People with mental illness 7 times more likely to use marijuana

People with mental illness are far more likely —nearly seven times more likely — to use marijuana than people living without mental illness, according to Canadian researchers.

A study published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry analyzed more than 43,000 people, finding that more than 4 percent of the mentally ill use pot weekly. This is compared to 0.6 percent of healthy individuals that don't.

Pot can worsen symptoms, doctors say

Dr. Jodie Escobedo, chief of addiction medicine at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, says that marijuana can be dangerous for patients with mental health problems.

"When it comes to patients who have mental illness and are using marijuana or any other mind-altering substance," said Escobedo, "a lot of times people will be under the impression that it will somehow be helpful or treat their symptoms, which is actually completely inaccurate."

Using drugs like marijuana, she notes, can set in motion a vicious cycle, one that can impede long-term recovery. The Canadian study found that pot use was particularly high among the bipolar population and those with personality disorders.

Making treatment difficult

Escobedo says that the longer a mentally ill person uses drugs, the longer of a period they need to remain sober in order to have effective treatment outcomes. Not only that, but making a proper diagnosis can become problematic.

"There is a lot of data that shows that you really can't make a good diagnosis with regard with mental illness until someone stops using."

Source: SCPR

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