Experts Warn High Potency Marijuana Strains Lead to Increase in Cannabis-Induced Psychosis


Cannabis-Induced Psychosis

Experts Warn High Potency Marijuana Strains Lead to Increase in Cannabis-Induced Psychosis

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Widespread marijuana legalization in the U.S. has fueled a misconception that cannabis products are largely harmless. Unfortunately, many teens and their families have discovered the connection between marijuana and psychosis – a potentially dangerous psychiatric condition that causes people to lose touch with reality.

What Is Cannabis-Induced Psychosis?

Lack of awareness about marijuana’s detrimental effects has proven to have severe consequences– especially among adolescent boys with a specific genetic vulnerability. This gene variant codes for an enzyme that affects dopamine signaling in the presence of drugs and other stimuli. Researchers discovered that the risk of psychosis among those with this hereditary susceptibility was seven times higher among daily marijuana users than people who rarely or never use cannabis.

Psychotic breaks can be terrifying because they cause confusing, disorienting, and irrational thoughts or feelings, including hallucinations and delusions. Consequently, the easy availability of marijuana and cannabis-infused products has led to a rise in related health risks and emergency department visits in recent years. Heavy marijuana use has been shown to result in an increased risk of psychosis and other mental illnesses in teens and young adults, who are more susceptible for a variety of reasons. Also, once an individual has a psychotic break for the first time, if they keep using marijuana, they are more likely to have a second episode and less likely to return to baseline. If a young person continues using marijuana despite experiencing these psychotic episodes, they run the risk of developing a chronic and persistent mental illness like schizophrenia.

The Dangers of High-THC Marijuana Strains

Levels of THC – the psychoactive component in the marijuana plant – have continued increasing over the decades since states began legalizing cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Additionally, an early lack of regulations created a loophole that allowed companies to manufacture edible products that look nearly identical to everyday treats like gummy bears and cookies. These sweets are familiar enough to seem innocuous, leading many people to underestimate their potency; however, some may have a THC concentration of up to 95%.

The edible and vaping products sold at most dispensaries and specialty shops are especially appealing to teenagers because of their colorful packaging and different flavors. The novelty of using a psychoactive drug can add to the allure, particularly among curious teens experimenting with marijuana from an early age. Using edibles and vaping THC also typically produces a more intense, extended high compared to smoking the plant form of marijuana.

How Cannabis Affects a Developing Brain

Cannabis acts upon the innate endocannabinoid system, changing users’ moods and motivations. Frequent marijuana use can also lead to sleep disruptions and impaired learning and coordination. The earlier in life a person starts smoking, vaping, or eating THC-infused products, the more their likelihood increases of becoming dependent on marijuana and reducing the volume of specific brain regions that govern memory, organized thinking, and impulse control. Teens and young adults are more vulnerable to becoming dependent and developing an addiction problem because of their lack of maturity and underdeveloped brains. They are also more susceptible to mental health disturbances as a result of heavy marijuana use. Researchers have yet to determine the long-term consequences of high-THC cannabis use. However, studies of laboratory rats suggest that marijuana can cause prolonged or even permanent impairment, even in people who do not experience psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions.

Preventing Substance Abuse in Children

Parents of teenagers play a critical role in educating their children about the dangers of cannabis consumption. Start discussing the risks and consequences from an early age, normalizing two-way communication about the impact of substance use. Explain the mental health complications associated with regular marijuana use, emphasizing the importance of responsible behavior and clarifying that underage cannabis experimentation is unacceptable. Remember, open dialogue, accurate information, and a nonjudgmental approach are crucial when educating children about their responsibilities and how to say no to peer pressure.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we provide comprehensive substance abuse and mental health evaluations to assess the extent of co-occurring conditions like marijuana and psychosis. We help adolescents manage their daily lives with teen counseling in a supportive, compassionate environment. Connect with us to learn how we make healing possible.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

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