Following Up: Pot and Psychosis

Friday, January 14, 2011

Maia Szalavitz, neuroscience journalist and contributor to Time magazine's Healthland blog, discusses some of the research examining the connection between marijuana use and psychosis.


Maia Szalavitz

Comments [7]

x from NYC

RE: Schizophrenia and marijuana

There are two people who are close to me who have schizophrenia. Both had smoked alot of pot but chose not to continue smoking after their diagnosis – mostly because of the negative effects on their mental state (ie, they no longer enjoyed it because their delusions became more prominent and/or disturbing). I would not blame pot for causing their illnesses, however I believe that it could have contributed to their initial "breakdowns". I have nothing against pot (so back down, people who get defensive about it). I just believe that if you have certain genes that make you more susceptible to mental illness (as both people I know have family histories with mental illness) – it might be wise to steer clear of (or limit) drugs. Drugs mixed with impressionable chemistry seems too risky to me.

Brian, you should do a program on schizophrenia: What is schizophrenia and what it is like for an individual and their families/friends.

There's a debilitating amount misinformation and social stigma surrounding this illness.

NOT ALL schizophrenics are violent.
Not all schizophrenics continue drug use.

With early detection and the right treatment, many people with schizophrenia do not have to suffer and have a chance to lead healthy lives. Unfortunately, people with this illness are often unaware of their behavior or hide it due to confusion and shame. Those close to them are just as confused and sometimes in denial. Left untreated, symptoms can definitely get worse. In some cases, it can lead to the person slipping into a catatonic state. Some can lead to the violent/disturbing episodes that make the news headlines.

Educating people would help parents/friends detect early symptoms - this can often be crucial to how well individuals will respond to treatment. It would give the public a better understanding of the illness, families and friends the courage to seek assistance and those that suffer from it a chance to lead healthy, productive lives.

Jan. 14 2011 01:15 PM
systemax311 from Howard Beach, NY

Ms. Szalavitz is so wrong about the addictive potential of marijuana. She said that the drug doesn't cause physical symptoms when stopped, like heroin. Well, just because it doesn't cause physical withdrawal effects upon terminating the drug, that doesn't mean that it isn't additive. There are different types of additction, including physical addiction, psychological addiction, habituation, and compulsive drug use. Marijuana has been associated with psychological addicition and habituation, and is known to alter brain chemistry.

Jan. 14 2011 12:13 PM
a g from n j

schizophrenia should not be the determinant marker. a diagnosis is such a subjective individual thing based on empirical observation exclusively. not to mention how many people never ever go to shrinks.

Jan. 14 2011 11:56 AM
Tonky from Red Hook

err.. I mean LSD

Jan. 14 2011 11:53 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Two words to refute this ridiculous claim: Louis Armstrong.

Jan. 14 2011 11:52 AM
Tonky from Red Hook

I'm no scientist, but reefer seems too soft to cause a breakdown in someone prone to psychosis.

I'm betting this kid also used LCD or other hallucinatory drugs.

Jan. 14 2011 11:52 AM
a g from n j

drugs should be legal,human beings should be treated with dignity, not as crimminals. however,i don't feel i need to say, that pot is perfectly harmless, to bolster my case. i don't think it is harmless. i end up being the lefty, left out of the party on this issue. there is too much 60's romance around reefer,and, i think people feel, they have to say that pot is okay, in order to bolster their contrarian views to the [very insane] drug policies in our country. why can't we parce reality, in, a much more sane, sensible, and nuanced manner? drug policies stink [and],pot damages brain cells and does induce horrible anxiety/paranoia in some.

Jan. 14 2011 10:21 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.