Can cannabis use lead to psychosis?
The release of cannabis for non-medical use is currently demanded across parties. But how dangerous is the cannabis drug really? Is it true that delusions or even mental illnesses can result from prolonged use? We have summarized the 5 most important questions on this topic.
Is there a form of schizophrenia that is particularly common with cannabis?
Cannabis use can trigger drug-induced psychosis in some people. The connections between drug use and illness are well documented today. According to the vulnerability-stress model, substance-induced psychosis can lead to psychosis in a small number of susceptible people even with low consumption. The disease can be reversible or it can last forever. The proportion of those at risk who are particularly susceptible is given as 1.2 percent. So every hundredth person who smokes cannabis can get sick. Young people who are in the adolescence phase are particularly at risk. It is also enough to be just an “occasional consumer”. (Archives of General Psychiatry (2008; 65: 772-784)
Do you always get psychotherapy in addition to drug treatment?
Treatment is carried out on an outpatient basis or in a hospital in crisis situations. In the treatment concept, medication and therapy are always linked. The main goal of therapy is to consistently avoid drugs. This is the only way to achieve recovery. With cannabis psychosis, patients have the greatest chance of being completely cured if they refrain from consuming it. For many, however, life without care will no longer be possible. They then live in special therapeutic residential groups, for example. Social pedagogues, educators and therapists accompany and support those affected in everyday life.
What drugs are available? Do you become dependent on them?
Drug treatment is the same as for regular psychosis. Medications such as neuroleptics are administered to reduce psychotic symptoms such as delusions. Sedatives can relieve anxiety and sleep disorders. Addiction can develop in the latter, so according to doctors, these should only be taken temporarily and only if necessary. The drugs are generally well tolerated.
What is the factor behind the development of schizophrenia? A social factor?
Some of the consumers are very susceptible to drug-induced psychosis. With the “Vulnerability Stress Model”, doctors assume that everyone has different inputs to get psychiatric or mental illnesses. In the model, individual vulnerability is described with a barrel that can be overflowed at different speeds. The water with which the barrel is filled should represent professional and private stress as well as social stress. Everyone has different capacities and is therefore able to handle different loads. If the barrel has a higher bottom, this indicates a higher ability of a person not to fall ill. Unfortunately, you do not know what your own condition is. Therefore, many doctors are against cannabis release. Children and young people in particular are at risk.
Does cannabis trigger schizophrenia in a few people or do they consume it for self-therapy of their schizophrenia? So what's first there?
There is a presumption that mentally ill people use cannabis as self-medication and the proportion of those who are ill is therefore relatively high. However, the vulnerability-stress model has generally become established and is supported by numerous studies. Accordingly, drugs such as cannabis but also alcohol or cocaine can be very clearly described as triggers. (sb)
Dear readers, We have received a large number of critical emails about the current cannabis article and would therefore like to briefly explain our position at this point: We support the legalization of cannabis for a variety of reasons, but known risks should not simply be ignored - especially if these are scientifically proven. Consumption at a young age is also to be assessed differently from that of adults. Therefore, legalization must go hand in hand with significantly higher investments in prevention and education, a clear age limit must be set and the levy must be organized properly. Additional studies on the risks of consumption are also required, which may have to be financed by the state.