High Use of Cannabis in Young People Linked With Schizophrenia

Heavy Cannabis Use (Photo: Getty Images)

Young men with cannabis use disorder face an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, as highlighted by a recent study conducted by researchers at the Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health.

Published in Psychological Medicine, the study utilized extensive health records spanning five decades and encompassing over 6 million individuals in Denmark to assess the proportion of schizophrenia cases attributable to cannabis use disorder on a population level.

The research revealed a robust correlation between cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia across both genders, with a notably stronger association observed among young men.

Through statistical models, the study estimated that up to 30% of schizophrenia cases among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented had cannabis use disorder been avoided.

Cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia are significant mental health challenges, though both are treatable conditions that can profoundly affect individuals’ lives.

Cannabis Use in Young People(Photo: Shutterstock)

Cannabis use disorder denotes the inability to cease cannabis use despite its detrimental impacts. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is a severe mental illness influencing thought processes, emotions, and behavior.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., emphasized the urgency of addressing the intertwined issues of substance use disorders and mental illnesses.

As access to potent cannabis products expands, Volkow stressed the critical need to broaden initiatives for prevention, screening, and treatment aimed at individuals susceptible to mental health disorders linked with cannabis use.

The study underscored the need for enhanced understanding and targeted interventions regarding cannabis use disorder’s role as a modifiable risk factor for schizophrenia, particularly among young men.

It also highlighted the escalating significance of this relationship over recent decades, possibly influenced by increased cannabis potency and diagnosed cannabis use disorder prevalence.

Further research is advocated to look for gender-specific differences in cannabis consumption patterns and their implications for psychosis risk.

Such insights can inform public health strategies, cannabis policy frameworks, and initiatives designed to mitigate the impact of cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia on public health.

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Categorized as Health

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