Medscape: Teen Marijuana Use Linked to Earlier Psychosis Onset

marijuana and schizophreniaMedscape reports that an analysis of 247 hospitalized patients who had experienced first episode psychosis (FEP ) indicates that “Heavy marijuana use between the ages of 15 to 17 years, a period of potentially critical brain development, could result in an earlier age of onset of psychosis in those destined to develop the disorder.”  The participants in this study tended to be  single, male, and African-American. The Medscape article quotes investigator Dr. Michael Compton as saying that researchers asked every subject  about marijuana use “in a very detailed way,” that covered the  initiation of marijuana use and followed it up to the age of prodromal, psychosis, and first hospitalization, They found that: “The mean age of psychosis onset was 21.07 years in those with cannabis use from ages 15 to 17 years, compared with 23.86 years in those with no cannabis use during that age period.

Dr. Compton also observed that delaying the onset of psychosis is important because later onset is associated with reduced severity of symptoms and less functional disability. He explained further that, “If you begin hearing voices in your fourth year of college as opposed to in the tenth grade, you will have accomplished a whole lot more; for example, you would have already graduated from high school, which in and of itself is associated with better physical health, better mental health, and better social outcomes, over the course of the lifespan.”

Though this study does not establish causality there is great concern among both clinicians and researchers about the rise in cannabis consumption around the globe (a 10 % increase between 1990 and 2006).  Medscape reporters interviewed Jerome Taylor, MD, a resident in psychiatry at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who moderated an  American Psychiatric Association session on marijuana use and psychosis this year about this study.  Dr. Taylor remarked that,  “I hope that clinicians will use this data to help patients recognize the risks associated with using marijuana. Explaining the link between marijuana and psychotic disorders is especially important for patients with a family history of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Read the Medscape Report here:

Teen Marijuana Use Linked to Earlier Psychosis Onset.

2 replies

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