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Exploring the Relationship Between Cannabis and Schizophrenia

If you live in the US, you may know that cannabis is recreationally legal in 24 states. Thirty-eight states allow for medical marijuana use as well, with some restrictions, and polls seem to indicate that the majority opinion swings in favor of the continued legalization of marijuana.

With all of this interest and rapidly increasing popularity, it makes sense that more studies and research have explored medical marijuana for mental health applications. This includes schizophrenia, a neurological disorder said to affect roughly 1.1 percent of the American population.

Unfortunately, misinformation and fear-mongering are still plentiful, too. It’s important to understand the real benefits (and limited risks) of marijuana use and separate them from the overblown concerns of bad faith actors.

To that end: should you use marijuana if you have schizophrenia? The answer depends on several factors, and a medical professional (like a medical cannabis doctor) can help you make this decision.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a neurological disorder tracing its first official diagnosis back to 1887. However, the condition can be difficult to diagnose because of its frequent symptomatic overlap with other mental and neurological disorders.

Some of its most frequently discussed traits are:

  • Delusions
  • Disorganized speech
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hallucinatory episodes, including auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Trouble with thinking and organizing thoughts
  • A reduction of speech
  • Flattened affect or expressiveness
  • Isolating behavior

Schizophrenia manifests at different ages and stages of life and often shows up in unique ways in every patient. The level of severity fluctuates, too. Some patients hardly experience an upset in their daily lives, while others encounter debilitating symptoms.

If you live with schizophrenia, your treatment path will be unique to your needs and the manifestation of schizophrenia in your life. Even though schizophrenia is incurable, it’s treatable and manageable.

Links Between Cannabis and Schizophrenia

Studies in recent years have shown a potential connection between schizophrenic episodes and cannabis use disorder. Many of these studies speculate that the recent rise in schizophrenia diagnoses in young people in particular may be tied to marijuana use.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering this speculation.

  1. This applies to cannabis use disorder, which is separate from cannabis use.
  2. The National Institute of Mental Health only provides broad statistics for schizophrenia.
  3. No in-depth studies currently exist that truly examine the relationship between cannabis use and the prevalence of schizophrenia.

In short: it’s too early to say for certain that cannabis and schizophrenia have any sort of causal tie.Cannabis Use Disorder

This is the official term for cannabis addiction, which differs from typical recreational or medical use of marijuana in several ways.

People with a cannabis use disorder may find themselves:

  • Giving up activities or time spent with friends or family to use marijuana
  • Using marijuana in high-risk situations, such as when driving
  • Using marijuana even if it causes problems in relationships, at work, or at school

The studies that focus on the ties between increased prevalence of schizophrenia also focus on marijuana or cannabis use disorder—an addiction and situation that doesn’t apply to many medical marijuana patients.

Breaking Down Cannabis Compounds

Effectiveness of CBD-TeleLeafIn addition to focusing on cannabis addiction, these studies also pinpoint tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a potential instigator of schizophrenic episodes or symptoms.

THC, however, is just one part of the Cannabis sativa plant. Each cannabis plant has over 500 chemical compounds, and not all of them are psychoactive.

CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana prized for its relaxing effects on both the body and mind. Patients living with chronic pain often speak of the relief it provides, especially for pain related to the nervous system. Preliminary studies also show its potentially positive impact on people with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

THC

This is a primary psychoactive component of cannabis, i.e. the part that gets users “high.” Though preliminary studies show potential benefits for issues like ADHD, anxiety, and PTSD, other studies indicate that it might act as a trigger in patients susceptible to schizophrenic episodes.

It’s possible to use CBD-heavy strains that have virtually no THC present if you’re worried about psychoactive compounds.

Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?

Cannabis does not cause schizophrenia. Although preliminary studies show that there might be a tie between the onset of schizophrenia in people with risk factors and overuse of cannabis, you won’t “catch” or “get” schizophrenia just by using marijuana.

However, if you have risk factors and rely on marijuana too much, then you may trigger a schizophrenic episode.

Risk factors of schizophrenia include:

  • Certain pregnancy or birth complications
  • Exposure to certain toxins or viruses when young that impact the brain’s development
  • Having schizophrenia in your family history
  • Taking psychotropic or psychoactive drugs during teenage or young adulthood

Doctors don’t understand the exact causes of schizophrenia, nor can they predict its onset in every person with known risk factors.

Can Someone With Schizophrenia Use Cannabis?

If you already have a schizophrenia diagnosis and you want to consider using medical marijuana, then your best option is to have an open and honest dialogue with a medical professional.

Schizophrenia, Woman Confused in Thought, Image. There Lot Emotion around Girl. She Can't Cope with Large Number Image and Hallucination in her Head, this Disturb and Frustrating Girl.

Doctors and nurses well-versed in the latest knowledge about cannabis can help you make an informed decision about your health journey. They’ll look at several factors, including what you want to accomplish by using medical marijuana and how you’re currently treating your schizophrenia, before making a decision.

When approaching a healthcare professional to discuss medical marijuana use, make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Transparency – Let your doctor know your state of health and your health goals, and be clear about them. This includes any past experiences with marijuana, current mental and physical health issues you’re dealing with, and how you deal with them. Your doctor can’t give you the best and most accurate recommendations if they don’t know your history.
  • Good communication – If you’re confused about something, clear it up. If you want a specific outcome, be direct about it. If you have any concerns about marijuana use, voice them. Clear, strong communication is the best tool for building a bridge with a healthcare professional.
  • Questions – If you’ve never used marijuana before, you’re bound to have questions about it. Doctors are here to answer them. Remember: no question is too silly to ask. You should have the answers you seek, and your doctor should trust that you’ll clear things up if you ever have any confusion.

TeleLeaf knows how hard it can be to broach the topic of medical marijuana use with healthcare professionals. This is why we focus our efforts on helping build bridges between patients like you and dedicated medical personnel who know the ins and outs of medical cannabis use.

TeleLeaf and Your Path to Healthy Marijuana Use

Marijuana can be an indispensable tool on your journey to mental and emotional health and wellness. When used in tandem with other management and recovery tools, such as therapy, the benefits are tangible and irrefutable.

However, marijuana isn’t the right option for everyone. While some individuals with schizophrenia may benefit from the use of certain strains of marijuana, others may find that it does more harm than good.

TeleLeaf can help you define your own healing journey by connecting you with medical personnel who can give you honest and thoughtful insight into your potential use of medical marijuana. You won’t have to worry about stigma or judgment—you can just relax and rely on a partner who will walk with you through your journey of healthy self-discovery.

When you’re ready to connect and learn more about getting a medical marijuana recommendation, apply for a medical cannabis card at TeleLeaf.


Sources:

U.S. News. Where Is Marijuana Legal? A Guide to Marijuana Legalization.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/where-is-marijuana-legal-a-guide-to-marijuana-legalization

Treatment Advocacy Center. Schizophrenia Fact Sheet.

https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/evidence-and-research/learn-more-about/25-schizophrenia-fact-sheet

World Health Organization. Schizophrenia.

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia

Medical News Today. A comparison of CBD and THC.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325871#getting-high

Mayo Clinic. Schizophrenia.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443

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