Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cannabis and Schizophrenia - link or cause?

The prohibition establishment keeps promoting studies which claim cannabis causes psychosis in a small minority of people, and credulous media faithfully regurgitate them, usually with sensational headlines.

Given the dominant media mindset on drugs, which almost never questions prohibition, such reports automatically skew opinion in favour of prohibition.

But the link between cannabis and psychosis or schizophrenia is not simple.

The knotty question is thoroughly explored in Time magazine, a journal that, unlike many media outlets, fact-checks its content.

The piece by Maia Szalavitz brings up the biggest confounder for the alarmists: that schizophrenia has not increased over the decades during which cannabis use expanded many many times over since the 1960s.
But the piece also shows how studies with apparently clear results are not necessarily so clear. Many control factors have to be brought to bear. For instance, more males smoke cannabis than females, and more males, whether or not they smoke it, get the disease and get it earlier than women.

So whether or not there is a causal link, cannabis smokers are more likely to suffer the disease for demographic reasons.

Other studies show that those who smoke cannabis and also have schizophrenia and several times more likely to have a family history of the disease.

But these tricky nuances are usually ignored by journalists and presenters who seem to think they have a moral duty to demonise drugs.

Nor do they usually question whether prohibition prevents any of the problem cases. Indeed, regulated supply could make it more difficult for young people to obtain drugs.

So when you next hear an alarmist story about drugs and psychosis, email or phone the presenter and link them to this.

You might also link them to this professional article about alcohol psychosis, which has case studies of people hallucinating an attack by ants and rabbits running across their hospital room. Ask the journalist why the media never runs stories about alcohol-induced psychosis? Bias perhaps?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about tobacco and schizophrenia? Cannabis makes sense because of the connection between an overdose on cannabish that can result in paranoia and possibly trigger psychotic episodes. But TOBACCO--now that is the schizophrenic's dreamsmoke and does not cause paranoia and in fact self-medicates for such things.

I just completed On Gratitude which is the adventures of a schizophrenic in recovery from nicotine. This related topic you might enjoy deals with the emotional effects and works with beliefs about nicotine in the 4th year of recovery. Delightful. To find out more visit my website at From there on pages 1 and 2 you will get a little slideshow, the release announcement for the book and some other interesting things to see. True story. Heal Responsibly, Jean Manthei, MA, LPC, CACIII