The Connection Between Cannabis Use Disorder And Genetic Predisposition to Schizophrenia 

The number of Americans who believe that regular marijuana use can be harmful has been steadily decreasing in recent decades and 22 US states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the recreational use of cannabis products. Self-reported use in the US increased from 9.9 percent in 2007 to 15.3 percent in 2017 with the most increase in cannabis use among high school students although they are not legally permitted to use marijuana.

“Excessive cannabis use is known to associate with psychotic-like experiences, schizophrenia symptoms, cognitive impairment, and emotional distress,” reported Sanchari Sinha Dutta, Ph.D., in April on News Medical. “Studies have shown that the administration of psychoactive constituents of cannabis can induce acute psychotic-like experiences, including unusual thoughts, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and in some rare cases, auditory and visual hallucinations.”

A new study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin shows that genetic risk factors for schizophrenia can increase the possibility of experiencing cannabis-related psychotic symptoms in regular marijuana users. “Among individuals who regularly use cannabis, genetic liability for schizophrenia—even in those without clinical features—may increase the likelihood of reporting unusual experiences related to cannabis use,” the authors wrote. “Cannabis use disorder (CUD) was prevalent in this analytic sample (70 percent), with 40 percent classified as mild, 25 percent as moderate, and 35 percent as severe. Polygenic risk for schizophrenia was positively associated with cannabis-related paranoia, feeling depressed or anhedonia, social withdrawal, and cognitive difficulties, even when controlling for duration of daily cannabis use, CUD, and age at first cannabis use.”

The average age of first-time marijuana use was sixteen years. About three-quarters of the enrolled participants reported using other illicit drugs.

“The study reveals that regular cannabis users with higher pre-existing genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia are at higher risk of experiencing cannabis-related psychotic experiences, including hallucination, paranoia, depression, cognitive difficulties, and social withdrawal,” Dr. Dutta wrote in the News Medical article. “Moreover, excessive and early-onset cannabis users are more likely to report unusual cannabis-related experiences. As mentioned by the scientists, the study involved ascertained individuals with a high prevalence of cannabis use disorder and use of other illicit drugs.”

Cannabis use and schizophrenia seem to have a close relationship, wrote Patel, Khan, et al. in their 2020 study on the association between schizophrenia and cannabis use. “Schizophrenia and psychosis walk hand in hand alongside with cannabis use,” they wrote. “When a healthy person uses cannabis, he experiences relaxation, euphoria, and a decrease in anxiety and boredom. However, they might also have some undesirable effects like paranoia, grandiosity, agitation, hallucination, cognitive impairment, disorganized thinking and behavior, and depersonalization. People predisposed to the development of psychotic illness are more vulnerable to the psychotomimetic effects of cannabis, more specifically, THC” (the primary psychoactive component of cannabis).

The research suggests that it is a bad idea to try alleviating schizophrenia symptoms with cannabis products. Patel, Khan, et al suggest that “chronic cannabis use in schizophrenic patients has a detrimental effect on brain morphology.”

Mental health conditions and substance use disorders such as CUD are frequently co-occurring because many people with addiction are primarily misusing addictive substances to self-medicate emotional pain caused by serious mental health disorders. Colorado Recovery understands the importance of coordinated and integrative treatment care and provides substance use services to all clients who require them as part of a specialized dual diagnosis track.

At Colorado Recovery, mental health treatment is focused on stabilizing illness, minimizing symptoms, improving functioning, and enhancing each patient’s social inclusion, quality of life, and sense of meaning in life.

If you have questions about our recovery model or our services to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar mental illnesses, call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the US since 1949. Every year during the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Together, we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the US affected by mental illness. 

During Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI joins the mental health community to reaffirm our commitment to building our understanding of mental illness, increasing access to treatment, and ensuring those who are struggling know they are not alone. This year, NAMI is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month with the “More Than Enough” campaign!

It’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and remember the inherent value we each hold — no matter our diagnosis, appearance, socioeconomic status, background, or ability. We want every person out there to know that if all you did was wake up today, that’s more than enough. No matter what, you are inherently worthy of more than enough life, love, and healing. Showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.

You’re invited to share on social media why you are more than enough by using the hashtag #MoreThanEnough. Update your Facebook profile with the NAMI #MoreThanEnough frame and encourage others to do the same! Together, we can create more than enough meaningful change in mental health!

With NAMIWalks, you can help knock down walls and topple obstacles. Our rallying call, “Mental Health for All,” is closer than ever before. No one is alone because everyone is encouraged. There is a spirit of inclusion at NAMIWalks that makes the event feel special. So many stories are shared and traditions started. Participants are united by the knowledge that they are making a difference by coming together for mental health.

Millions Are Affected by Mental Illness

22.8 percent of US adults experienced mental illness in 2021 (57.8 million people). This represents one in five adults. More than five percent experienced serious mental illness in 2021 (14.1 million people). That’s one in 20 adults.

Only around 47 percent of adults in the United States with a mental illness receive treatment in a given year, according to NAMI, and even about a third of people with a serious mental illness remain without treatment in any given year.


Empowerment Not Stigma!

Recovery from serious mental illness requires that people with such a condition retain a sense of empowerment—a belief in their ability to take charge of their lives and manage the complex challenges of their illness.

Empowerment is essential if people with a mental illness are to overcome the many prejudices that too many Americans still carry with them: the stereotype that makes them believe a person with a mental illness is incapable, unpredictable, even violent, and worthless. 

The late Colorado Recovery founder Richard Warner dedicated most of his life to fighting the stigmatization of people with mental illness. Colorado Recovery has been utilizing the Warner method to empower adults with mental illness for many years now. Our program approaches mental healthcare based on a path of self-reliance through developed practiced skills. Recognizing the importance of empowerment for recovery, our non-institutionalized philosophy offers comprehensive levels of care supported by an expert medical and clinical team, engaging patients in increasing community participation. 

Our treatment facility provides the services needed to address schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illnesses. Call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.