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Smoking Marijuana Speeds Up Onset of Mental Illness

Posted Feb 17 2011 9:58am

by Tory Wolk, blogger

You may want to take a moment to think before you light up a join.  Recent research in Australia proves that when people smoke pot at a young age, they tend to be diagnosed with mental illnesses at a young age as well.

Researchers looked at people who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses and determined if and when they began smoking weed. It was discovered that 12-15-year-olds are the most likely to develop mental illness after using pot. More specifically, psychiatric diseases they may have shown up in a person’s 20s begin to show up in their early to late teens. Young people over the age of 18 were twice more likely to develop mental illnesses after using pot, while those under 15 were five times more likely. These numbers are certainly alarming.

The study is not suggesting that marijuana causes mental disorders, just that it speeds up their onset in certain people, and may cause mental illness in others. Other scientists had already made connections between marijuana and schizophrenia, but the new study includes other disorders as well.

This study adjusted for some problems that had been found in similar studies done in the past. For example, scientists had to factor in the fact boys tend to develop mental illness before girls. Additionally, pot may have become stronger over time, so studies from different years may have have different results simply due to the potency of the drug. Even when researchers took these factors and others into account, it was still clear that mental illness can be seen sooner in individuals who smoke weed.

Scientists urge the public to take away two messages from the study: Something in marijuana may cause mental illness, and it is especially damaging in younger teens. Current health campaigns stress the dangers of pot for older users, but it may be even more harmful to younger smokers. Smoking marijuana won’t necessarily cause mental illness, but it’s definitely something for users to consider.


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