Links Between Methamphetamine, Marijuana, and Schizophrenia: A Troubling Development for Teens
Posted Dec 04 2011 11:05am
The following is a guest post by Eric Reinach, writer for treatment4addiction.com . Eric can be reached at email@example.com.
Definite links between the use of methamphetamine, marijuana, and the development of schizophrenia have been shown in a recent study from researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. In a measure of cooperation between North American countries the researchers actually took results from the records of patients who were admitted to California hospitals between 1990 and 2000 with a diagnosis of dependence or abuse for methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine or opioids. The study was published online Nov. 8 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
First for a little background: methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type stimulants are the second most common type of illicit drug used worldwide. From crystal methamphetamine production in Hawaii and throughout the US, to ‘yabba’ – amphetamine pills that dominate Thailand and Asia, the proliferation of speed type drugs has reached epic proportions.
Because of their widespread availability a study on the long term psychiatric implications of the use of these drugs becomes a social and medical necessity. And the results are startling: people who were hospitalized for meth dependence and who had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychotic symptoms at the start of the study had a roughly one hundred and fifty to three hundred percent higher risk of later being diagnosed with schizophrenia than patients who used cocaine, alcohol or opioid drugs, study leader Dr. Russ Callaghan said in a CAMH news release  . These are significant numbers, even more so when one realizes they are in contrast to the rest of the drug abusing population, not those who reported to the hospital with non-substance abuse related symptoms.
The data also showed that the increased risk of schizophrenia in methamphetamine users was similar to that of heavy users of marijuana. Marijuana is, of course, the most commonly consumed and abused substance across the globe. There’s been a recent resurgence with marijuana in the news recently, especially in the United States, as more and more states adopt medical marijuana laws. Although it is not founded as to whether or not the proliferation of ‘med pot’ clinics and dispensaries have affected the overall usage of marijuana there are some interesting data made available recently.
Perhaps most troubling amongst these are the results of a recent study on teen drug abuse – specifically in the case of marijuana, 25.9 percent of teens had an abuse/dependency problem with pot. And the frequency of its use was more than twice that of most other drugs, with abusers reporting they had used marijuana for an average of 79 days in the last year. Use of stimulants came in second for the average number of days in use, at nearly 47, followed by opioids at about 39 days, and alcohol at nearly 36 days  .
These data sound an important alarm that there’s the potential for an emerging mental health crisis in our communities. If marijuana forms the most abused drug by teens, followed by amphetamines, then the coming years could see a whole new generation plagued by the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The clear answer to the problems posed by the data is an outreach to both the next generation of marijuana and meth abusers, as well as the current one. If those currently seeking treatment can get medical help, then perhaps their problems can be halted before turning into schizophrenia related disorders. Most important of all is to reach out to the next generation, the teens who’ve begun to chronically use marijuana and meth, so that they can be given a reprieve from a lifetime of mental illness and substance addiction. In either case the time to act is now.