Daily Health Headlines

Study Links Pot Use to Relapse in Psychosis Patients

👤by Randy Dotinga 0 comments 🕔Thursday, September 29th, 2016

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A British study says it provides new evidence that marijuana use may boost the risk that people who struggle with psychosis will relapse.

But critics said the effect seems to be small, and they questioned the validity of the research.

A study co-author stands by the work, however.

"We show that pot use causes an increase in the risk of relapse in psychosis and demonstrate that alternative explanations are unlikely to be true," said Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, a reader in translational neuroscience and psychiatry at King's College London.

"It would be appropriate to at least aim for reduction in pot use in patients with psychosis if complete abstinence is not realistic," Bhattacharyya added.

People suffering from psychosis lose touch with reality and may hallucinate, develop delusions and struggle to think and speak normally. Sometimes psychosis is a symptom of a condition like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Earlier this year, a British study in the journal BMJ Open linked pot use in psychosis patients to higher levels of hospitalization and less response to medications. But experts said at the time that this could be because psychotic patients turn to marijuana when they're feeling less stable or because genetics make a person likely to both become psychotic and want to use pot.

In the new study, researchers looked at 220 patients -- 90 women and 130 men, aged 18 to 65 -- who were diagnosed for the first time with psychosis. Bhattacharyya said his team tried to expand upon the previous research by using statistical techniques to look more closely at the impact of pot.

The researchers found that the risk that patients would relapse was 13 percent higher when they used pot than when they didn't. And the odds appeared to go up when the patients used more pot. This suggests -- but doesn't prove -- that pot use raises the risk of relapse, instead of the other way around, the researchers said.

They added that it's not clear how pot use might boost the risk of relapse. Nor is it clear whether marijuana may have beneficial effects that aren't being measured, or if the drug may cause more relapses while making them less severe.

Mitch Earleywine is a marijuana rights advocate and a professor of psychology at University at Albany, State University of New York. He said the study "suffers from most of the problems that plague a lot of the human research on cannabis and psychosis."

For one thing, he said, the researchers didn't randomly assign one group of patients to use marijuana and another to abstain. Then there's the possibility that a desire for pot is simply a sign that a relapse is coming, he said.

"In all likelihood, those who notice a need for cannabis earlier might be the same ones who are more likely to have another psychotic break whether they had cannabis or not," he said.

Earleywine also called the increased risk of relapse "ridiculously small."

Study co-author Bhattacharyya disagreed with this assessment. He said it's important that the extra risk seen in his study persisted even after the researchers compensated for factors like higher or lower numbers of psychotic patients who stopped taking their medications or used other illegal drugs.

Charles Ksir, a professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Wyoming, also criticized the study, saying the increase in risk was small and unproven. "Perhaps the individual begins to decompensate, and as part of that process they are a bit more likely to use cannabis," he said.

What about urging psychotic patients to avoid pot?

"It's fair to say that anyone who has ever had a psychotic break or has a schizophrenic relative should stay away from the plant," Earleywine said.

But Ksir said that "efforts to influence cannabis use among psychotic patients have not been successful in getting them to stop or reduce their use."

The study is published Sept. 28 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Article Credits / Source

Randy Dotinga / HealthDay

Randy Dotinga wrote this story for HealthDay. HealthDay provides up to the minute breaking health news. Click here to view this full article from HealthDay.

SOURCES: Sagnik Bhattacharyya, M.B.B.S., M.D., Ph.D., reader, translational neuroscience and psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, England; Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., professor, psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York; Charles Ksir, Ph.D., professor emeritus, psychology and neuroscience, University of Wyoming, Laramie; Sept. 28, 2016, JAMA Psychiatry

View More Articles From Randy Dotinga 🌎View Article Website

Sponsored Product

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

Lunar Sleep for $1.95

People who have trouble sleeping typically have low levels of melatonin, so melatonin supplements seem like a logical fix for insomnia. There is a high demand for sleep aids, especially in the U.S. The National Health Interview Survey done in 2002, and again in 2007, found 1.6 million US adults were using complementary and alternative sleep aids for insomnia. Lunar Sleep was a top choice. Use Promo Code: Sleep2014 and only pay $1.95 S&H.

Get Lunar Sleep for $1.95

More Mental Health Articles

1 in 7 Young Teens Is a Stalking Victim: Survey

1 in 7 Young Teens Is a Stalking Victim: Survey0

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- About one out of seven children in 6th and 9th grades has been a victim of stalking, potentially boosting their risk of substance abuse, dating violence and other dangers, a new U.S. survey ...

Sexism Could Harm Men's Health: Study

Sexism Could Harm Men's Health: Study0

MONDAY, Nov. 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Men who have "playboy" attitudes and believe in power over women may face a higher risk for mental health trouble than men who don't, a broad new research review suggests. The finding on sexism, and ...

Troubled Preschoolers Not Getting Effective Treatment: Report

Troubled Preschoolers Not Getting Effective Treatment: Report0

MONDAY, Nov. 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Most preschoolers with mood, behavior and social disorders would benefit from non-drug therapies, but few receive this type of help, a leading group of U.S. pediatricians reports. As many as one in 10 ...

Violent Media Often Give Rise to Nightmares

Violent Media Often Give Rise to Nightmares0

TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Watching violent movies before bed might drag some dark images into your dreams, giving you nightmares, a new study suggests. The study found that those who viewed violent media before bed were 13 ...

Teen 'Choking Game' Played Solo Points to Suicide Risks

Teen 'Choking Game' Played Solo Points to Suicide Risks0

MONDAY, Nov. 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- About 4 percent of U.S. teens surveyed admit to trying the "choking game" -- a potentially deadly game of temporary strangulation. And new research suggests that kids who "play" the game alone are much ...

View More Mental Health Articles

0 Comments

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest health news as it breaks!

Your information will not be shared with anyone!