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Medicine Science

Daily Pot Use Tied To Age of First Psychotic Episode 382

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters reports, 'In a study of adults who experienced psychosis for the first time, having smoked marijuana daily was linked to an earlier age of onset of the disorder.' ..."This is not a study about the association between cannabis and psychosis, but about the association between specific patterns of cannabis use ... and an earlier onset of psychotic disorders,' Dr. Marta Di Forti, who led the research at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, said in an email. Among more than 400 people in South London admitted to hospitals with a diagnosed psychotic episode, the study team found the heaviest smokers of high-potency cannabis averaged about six years younger than patients who had not been smoking pot. Psychosis is a general term for a loss of reality, and is associated with several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. ... "The thorny question is whether they might otherwise have developed the disease or would have not had mental illness. It's a distinction we haven't figured out yet," Compton said. ... It is still unclear whether there are safe levels of use for cannabis, she added. '"
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Daily Pot Use Tied To Age of First Psychotic Episode

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  • by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @03:33PM (#45927453)

    From TFA: []

    The researchers surveyed 410 patients between the ages of 18 and 65, two thirds of them male, all of whom had a psychotic episode and were admitted to in-patient psychiatric units.

    I'm not a statisticianololgist, but passing out surveys to psychotic people in a mental hospital doesn't seem to me to be the best way to gather accurate data for a study.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @03:41PM (#45927501)

    And this is because this research doesn't answer the following question:

    Can we be sure that even though psychosis manifested itself earlier in the subject population, it (psychosis), still maifested itself later in this particular group?

    In otherwords, can we be sure that pot use in this specific group didn't delay psychosis even though on average, psychosis came earlier as compared to the other group?

    I know of folks who use pot daily. They are now in their late 90s. One could argue that pot is responsible for their delayed psychosis if at all, no?

  • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @03:56PM (#45927633)

    But, is it the THC, or the lack of social support and constant surreptitious activity required to obtain and use pot that leads to earlier onset?

    Put another way, would the same thing have been found in a study of alcohol use during prohibition? Or, will the same study replicated today in Colorado, have different findings?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:07PM (#45927693)

    I used to smoke pot a lot in my mid teens (in the 80's). One time I had a very scary panic attack while in school after smoking some at the bus stop. I didn't know it was a panic attack at the time because I never had one and did not know what the hell was going on. I was able to play it off as I was just sick but it scared the shit out of me and they sent me home. Where I lived people were more accepting of pot use so the school nurse probably suspected drugs but just let it ride. My mom knew I smoked pot and I talked to her about it and she explained what she thought had happened. None of the others that smoked that same pot that morning had any problems so I know it was not spiked with something else. I smoked pot for about the six months but I did not like to if there was a chance I'd be by myself since I associated the panic attack with the pot. I made my friends were going to be staying around or we were doing something in a group. About 6 months later I eventually just quit doing it and haven't touched it or anything except alcohol since. I don't think it was the pot that caused my "problem", probably just made a problem I had worse. At the time, my dad had just died from cancer, it was close to Christmas, I had basically stopped going to school, my mom was in total shambles from my dads death, my paretns business was about to fold without my dad being around, there was a lot going on I was probably under a lot of stress. I went almost 25 years until I had my next panic attack. Turns out my mom and sister both have them. My mom worse. A lot of people have various levels of panic attacks, I did not know that until I started poking around and lightly touching on the subject with some friends and trusted co-workers.

  • by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:16PM (#45927729)
    Let's be fair here. In the 1920s up through the 1950s/1960s, it was fairly common for a man to have a bitchy wife be committed to a mental hospital, and in the 1940s/1950s they were even labotomized for "anxiety and agitation".

    There may have, in fact, been lower rates of psychosis in the 1920s onwards until the 1960s/1970s, but given the diagnoses at the time, it'd hard to ever be sure or be able to draw a direct comparison.
  • by Curtman ( 556920 ) * on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:33PM (#45927831)
    It's been documented in may places.

    Decline in the Incidence of Schizophrenia in Finnish Cohorts Born From 1954 to 1965 []

    If there was a causal link between marijuana use and schizophrenia for example, there would be an increase that could be shown in historical data. The evidence instead suggests that maybe some people have been successful at self-medicating.
  • Yes and no... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:49PM (#45927965)

    While I am all for legalizing it, the article does have a point.

    I recall at least one British study looking at the link between cannabis and psychosis that found that strains with a high THC/other canabinoids ratio would cause tests subjects to score higher on at least one standard test questionnaire for psychosis, while subjects injected with a more 'natural' blend of THC and other canabinoids would tend to get a psychosis score not much different from them being sober.

    The conclusion as I recall was that there is some evidence that strains bred specifically for a high THC content could be more likely to cause psychotic event or temporary psychosis-like states.
    BBC did a documentary that filmed part of said study, here it is: []

  • by Curtman ( 556920 ) * on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:14PM (#45928103)
    If the incidence of schizophrenia decreases during the same period as marijuana usage increases, it becomes very difficult to show a causal link. That's the situation this discussion leads to. Incidence of schizophrenia should follow the increase in marijuana use when plotted against time, it doesnt. It's inverse.
  • Re:Reefer madness? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:48PM (#45928293)

    Speaking of side effects of the War on Drugs, there was an interesting story the other night on the news in Denver.

    A lot of pot shops are employing military grade security personnel to protect them these days. Granted, one of the most likely reasons is that this is a cash based business (the only non-cash transactions are based on creative use of ATMs), so there is motivation from others to rip them off on their way to deposit their monies. However, it is clear that the need for such specially trained security is due to the fact that pot was illegal for so long and run by the black market. Now you have those same thugs trying to rip off these businesses trying to get their hands on the product so they can take it back to the black market.

    Had there not been a War on Drugs in the first place, there really wouldn't be this need for such high security at these shops.

    Of course, on the other hand, it has helped to improve our local economy. I would say that I have approximately 20 friends that I see on a regular basis. Out of those 20, nearly half of them are employed directly by pot facilities, and several more are employed indirectly by businesses that have pot shops as clients.

    There are many effects the War on Drugs has had on our society, and most of those effects are not going to be known until the War on Drugs ceases to exist.

  • by Curtman ( 556920 ) * on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:01PM (#45928343)

    Is schizophrenia on the decline in Canada? []
    The preliminary comparison showed a 42% decrease in the number of first-admission schizophrenia cases over 20 years. In the main study, the annual inpatient prevalence rates decreased significantly (52%) from 1986 to 1996 with no corresponding change in outpatient rates, regardless of sex. Although total major affective disorders increased, this was due to an increase in major depression, not bipolar disorder.
    This is the first Canadian case-register study to support the widely reported falling rates of schizophrenia in other parts of the world over the last 40 years. Since this is a geographically limited prevalence study based on only 10 years of data, further research over longer periods of time in other regions of the country is required to support or refute these findings.

    Canadian teens lead developed world in cannabis use: Unicef report []
    This is the second time in a row that the WHO study has ranked Canadian teenagers as the highest cannabis users, though the percentage of teens itself has dropped. In 2002, the same survey showed that 37.5 per cent of 15-year-olds in Canada had used cannabis in the past year.


  • Re:This just in... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:20PM (#45928465) Homepage Journal

    I've seen no studies, but I know a lot of pot smokers and it's all over the board. Some smoke rarely, some grab the bong before they're out of bed. I'd say there are a lot of daily smokers, though, most working-class (construction, factory) folks I know are sober all day, come home, eat dinner, then smoke a few hitters and drink a few beers while watching the tube.

    As Oscar Wilde said, "Work is the curse of the drinking class."

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