Pot And Psychosis: Study Finds Link Can Go Both Ways In Teens

Pot and psychosis can go both ways in teenagers, a new study has found. According to a study at Leiden University in the Netherlands, using pot may cause psychotic symptoms, but psychosis in teens can also be linked to later pot use.

In an email to Reuters Health, lead author of the study Merel Griffith-Lendering wrote:

“We have focused mainly on temporal order; is it the chicken or the egg? As the study shows, [the link between pot and psychosis] is a bidirectional relationship.”

Although different research recently concluded that psychosis is an effect of smoking pot, some scientists questioned whether people were also using pot to ease psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Dr. Gregory Seeger, medical director for addiction services at Rochester General Hospital in New York, told Reuters Health:

“What is interesting in this study is that both processes are going on at the same time.”

Seeger said that researchers were especially intrigued by the effect tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active property in pot, would have on the developing brain of a teenager. He added that those with more cases of schizophrenia and psychosis in their family history were more sensitive to the toxic effects of THC.

The Leiden University study was attempting to discover whether pot or psychosis came first. A total of 2,120 Dutch teenagers were surveyed for the study and asked questions about their pot use when aged 14, 16, and 19 years old. The same teens also underwent psychosis vulnerability tests that analyzed their ability to concentrate, their feelings of loneliness, and whether they hallucinate.

Using this data, Griffith-Lendering and her team found that 940 teens, or around 44 percent, reported smoking pot and that there was a bidirectional link between using pot and psychosis.

However, the study could not prove beyond doubt that one is caused by the other. Griffith-Lendering believes that genetics may also play a role in forming the link:

“We can say for some people that cannabis comes first and psychosis comes second, but for some people they have some (undiagnosed) psychosis (and) perhaps cannabis makes them feel better.”

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