Psychosis linked to use of high potency cannabis

An article published in The Lancet has suggested that high potency Cannabis or “Skunk” is linked for  one in four cases of new-onset psychosis. The study was carried out by King’s College London and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the US and was funded by the UK National Institute of Health Research, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, the Psychiatry Research Trust, the Maudsley Charity Research Fund, and the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.

skunk-psychosis

The study compared the use of cannabis among 410 people from south London who attended hospital with a first episode of psychosis, and 370 people from the general population without the condition. It found the daily use of cannabis was associated with an increased risk of psychosis, and use of high-potency cannabis was associated with a greater increase in risk. The researchers used their figures to estimate that 24% of new psychosis cases in the study population could be attributed to the use of skunk. But it’s important to note this figure would not apply to populations where skunk use is less common than in the south London population the study looked at. The figure also assumes that skunk definitely directly causes psychosis, which this study cannot prove by itself. However, there is growing concern that this could be the case, and other studies also support an association between cannabis use and psychosis. To read the full article online click here.logo

 Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, a leading UK mental health charity said “People often think of cannabis as a safe or harmless drug, but this study clearly shows that smoking ‘skunk’ greatly increases your chances of developing serious mental health problems.” “Reclassifying cannabis isn’t the answer. What we really need to see is more education about the risks of using the drug, especially for younger people, who are particularly vulnerable. Essentially, smoking cannabis is like playing a very real game of Russian roulette with your mental health.”Read the full report here and a helpful factsheet is available here.

 

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