Cannabis increases risk of psychotic epidemic by 40%

The use of marijuana and other cannabis derivatives is a common occurrence today, especially in the young population.

There is a popular belief that cannabis is a substance that carries very little risk of being “natural” and more or less traditional in some areas, so it is usually consumed without too much concern for its possible side effects. . However, the consumption of these substances has been shown to carries high health risks.

Specifically, a review and analysis of different research shows that there is a link between cannabis and psychotic disorders, having shown that cannabis increases the risk of a psychotic epidemic, in some cases up to 40%.

Cannabis and derivatives

Cannabis and its derivatives are one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world, especially in Western society. Extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, it is a type of substance that would be considered within the group of psychodyseptics, Psychoactive substances which produce a modification of mental activity without it being considered to be totally excitatory or inhibitory.

In the specific case of cannabis, there is usually an increase in activity first and soon a state of relaxation and sedation, as well as other symptoms such as increased appetite or motor incoordination.

This drug can be found in many different forms depending on the parts of the plant that are used, being the most famous derivatives of marijuana and hashish.

Consumption and social consideration

Its use dates back to antiquity, used as a medicinal and relaxing plant, And even today, it is used to combat certain symptoms of illnesses, such as the presence of vomiting, seizures and even anorexia or lack of appetite (not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, which would be the psychological disorder) which manifests itself in patients with different disorders.

However, apart from its medical properties, a large number of people use cannabis as a form of entertainment and relaxation due to the widespread belief that they are dealing with a drug the consumption of which carries little risk. This consideration is due to the fact that cannabis and its derivatives they do not have as many physiological effects as other drugs, And the fact that they are generally considered not to be too addictive unless their consumption is daily.

It is usually eaten by inhalation through cigarettes, Although sometimes consumed orally (being for example the case of the well-known mary cakes). In general, its consumption occurs more frequently in adolescence and early adulthood, being less common at older ages.

Increased risk of psychotic epidemics

As we have seen above, cannabis consumption is considered safe or very low. However, analysis of several studies indicates that although it presents a lower risk than other substances, the consumption of cannabinoids leads to a significant increase in the risk of suffering from psychotic epidemics.

And does the administration of this substance often cause the presence of auditory hallucinations or delusions of persecution, Which, although usually temporary, may remain or trigger the recurrence of subsequent psychotic outbreaks. In fact, research indicates that cannabis increases the risk of causing a psychotic disorder by up to 40%, can be much bigger if? consumption is daily.

Although cannabis is not considered to produce the psychotic disorder itself, it is a risk factor it can end up exploding this one. In other words, there is a genetic predisposition to suffer from such an alteration, a predisposition which may or may not be expressed.

Cannabis and schizophrenia

In this case, cannabis use is a factor that increases the risk of being expressed, its risk being much higher than other substances. Thus, a person who would probably never have had an epidemic has a very high probability of developing it. And one of the disorders associated with this use and psychotic flare-ups is schizophrenia, a serious disorder that can cause a high level of interference in daily life. Other research shows that many schizophrenic patients who use cannabis they had their first psychotic episode up to seven years earlier than average.

Other risks of using marijuana

The vital period during which cannabinoids are usually consumed, which usually begins in adolescence and early adulthood, should also be taken into account. At the moment the body is still in formation and in the process of change, Be more responsive to reward and punishment than at other vital times, so the brain is more vulnerable and affected by long-term changes.

In addition, it should be considered that cannabis affects not only the onset of a psychotic epidemic, but also includes the course and prognosis of epidemics and disorders, showing that in general cannabis use interferes and makes treatment difficultIn the long term, it facilitates relapse and the appearance of new psychotic attacks in treated patients.


In conclusion, it is necessary to take into account and pay special attention to the risks posed by the use of cannabis, fight the idea that it is harmless.

And cannabinoids have been documented to cause amotivational syndrome, have carcinogenic properties, and, in the long run, cause respiratory problems and sexual dysfunction, as well as a dramatic increase in the risk of psychotic outbreaks.

Bibliographical references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Arias, F., Sanchez, S. and Padin, JJ (2002). Relevance of drug use in clinical manifestations of schizophrenia. Acts Esp Psychiatrie; 30: 65-73.
  • Barnes, TR; Mutsatsa, SH; Hutton, SB; Watt, HC and Joyce, EM (2006). Concomitant substance use and age at onset of schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry; 188: 237-42.
  • Moore, THM; Zammit, S .; Lingford-Hughes, A .; Barnes, THREE; Jones, PB; Burke, M. and Lewis, G. (2007). Cannabis use and the risk of psychotic or emotional consequences in mental health: a systematic review. The Lancet. vol 370, 9584; pp. 319-328.
  • Sants, JL; Garcia, LI; Calderon, MA; Sanz, LJ; of rivers, P .; Left, S .; Román, P .; Hernangómez, L .; Navas, E .; Lladre, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical Psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 02. CEDE. Madrid.

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