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Marijuana and Mental Illness: Is There a Connection?

January 11th, 2016

With more states, countries, and government entities giving the go ahead for medical or even recreational marijuana use many questions have been raised about this drug that need to be answered. There is a well known and identified link between substance abuse and mental illness. Statistics show that people who have risk factors for schizophrenia and other psychotic forms of mental illness may be adversely affected by marijuana use, and this drug can even contribute to the development of psychosis in individuals who are already prone to certain types of mental disorders including schizophrenia. Mental health experts warn that marijuana use can mask or even aggravate the symptoms of mental illness and make an accurate diagnosis much harder to make. Using marijuana can cause depression, anxiety, and many other mental disorders to become worse over time and interfere with treatment.

There have been no studies to show that marijuana itself is responsible for the initial development of mental illness, but many studies have shown that this drug can have a negative impact on those who are already at risk or predisposed towards schizophrenia and other serious forms of mental illness. Individuals who have certain mental health disorders or who have close family members with serious mental illness are at a much higher risk of developing psychosis and other very serious symptoms when marijuana is used because of how the brain functions with these mental disorders. Using the drug can make it difficult or even impossible for treatment professionals to determine which symptoms are drug related and which ones are a result of the mental illness.

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