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Cannabis increases the risk of psychotic outbreak by 40%

Cannabis increases the risk of psychotic outbreak by 40%

March 29, 2024

The consumption of marijuana and other cannabis derivatives is a common phenomenon nowadays, especially in the young population.

The popular idea is that cannabis is a substance that involves very few risks because it is "natural" and more or less traditional in some areas, which is generally consumed without great concern due to its possible side effects. However, it has been shown that the consumption of this type of substances does entails high health risks .

Specifically, the review and analysis of different investigations show that there is a link between cannabis and psychotic disorders, having been indicated by demonstrating that cannabis increases the risk of suffering a psychotic outbreak, in some cases up to 40% .

Cannabis and derivatives

Cannabis and its derivatives are some of the most consumed illegal drugs worldwide, especially in Western society. Extracted from the plant Cannabis sativa, it is a type of substance that would be considered within the group of psychodysleptic drugs , psychoactive substances that produce a modification of mental activity without this can be considered totally excitatory or inhibitory.

In the specific case of cannabis, an increase in activity usually occurs first, in a short time, to go into a state of relaxation and sedation, together with other symptoms such as increased appetite or motor uncoordination.

This drug can be found in very different ways according to the parts of the plant that are used, being the most known derivatives marijuana and hashish .

Consumption and social consideration

Its use goes back to antiquity, used as a medicinal and relaxing plant , and even today is used to combat some symptoms of diseases, such as the presence of vomiting, seizures and even anorexia or lack of hunger (not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, which would be the psychological disorder) that occurs in patients with different disorders.

However, regardless of their medical properties, a large number of people use cannabis as a form of entertainment and relaxation due to the widespread idea that it is a drug whose consumption involves few risks. This consideration is due to the fact that cannabis and its derivatives they do not have as many physiological effects as other drugs , and the fact that it is considered that in general they do not cause too much dependence unless their consumption is daily.

It is usually consumed by inhalation through cigarettes , although sometimes it is consumed orally (being for example the case of the well-known cakes de maría). In general, its consumption occurs more frequently in adolescence and early adulthood, being less frequent at older ages .

Increased risk of psychotic outbreaks

As we have seen previously, it is considered that consuming cannabis does not have risks or they are very low. However, the analysis of several investigations indicates that, although it has a lower risk to other substances, the consumption of cannabinoids causes a serious increase in the possibility of suffering psychotic outbreaks.

And is that the administration of this substance often causes the presence of auditory hallucinations or persecutory delusions , that although they are generally temporary they can remain or trigger the repetition of later psychotic outbreaks. In fact, one of the investigations indicates that cannabis increases up to 40% the possibility of awakening a psychotic disorder, can be much higher if the consumption is daily .

Although it is considered that cannabis does not produce the psychotic disorder itself, it is a risk factor that may end up being a trigger for this one . That is, there is a genetic predisposition to suffer an alteration of this type, a predisposition that can be expressed or not.

Cannabis and schizophrenia

In this case the consumption of cannabis is a factor that increases the risk of being expressed, with its risk being much higher than that of other substances. Thus, a person who probably never had any outbreak has a very high probability of developing it. And one of the disorders associated with this consumption and psychotic outbreaks is schizophrenia, a severe disorder that can cause a high level of interference in daily life. Other research shows that many schizophrenic patients who use cannabis have had their first psychotic episode up to seven years earlier than the average .

Other risks in the use of marijuana

It must also take into account the vital period in which the consumption of cannabinoids is usually done, which usually begins in adolescence and early adulthood. In this age the organism is still in formation and process of change , having a greater reactivity to reward and punishment than in other vital moments, with which the brain is more vulnerable and affected by long-term changes.

In addition to this, it must be considered that cannabis does not only affect the beginning of a psychotic outbreak, but also includes the course and prognosis of outbreaks and disorders, showing that in general cannabis use interferes and hinders the treatment , and in the long run it facilitates relapse and the appearance of new psychotic outbreaks in treated patients.


In conclusion, it is necessary to take into account and pay special attention to the risks posed by cannabis use, fighting the idea that it is something harmless .

And it is documented that cannabinoids can cause amotivational syndrome, has carcinogenic properties and may eventually cause respiratory problems and sexual dysfunction, in addition to the spectacular increase in risk of presenting psychotic outbreaks.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Arias, F., Sanchez, S. and Padin, J.J. (2002). Relevance of drug use in the clinical manifestations of schizophrenia. Actas Esp Psiquiatr; 30: 65-73.
  • Barnes, T.R .; Mutsatsa, S.H .; Hutton, S.B .; Watt, H.C. & Joyce, E.M. (2006). Comorbid substance use and age at onset of schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry; 188: 237-42.
  • Moore, T.H.M .; Zammit, S .; Lingford-Hughes, A .; Barnes, T.R.E .; Jones, P.B .; Burke, M. & Lewis, G. (2007). Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review. The Lancet. volume 370, 9584; p.319-328.
  • Santos, J.L. ; García, L.I. ; Calderón, M.A. ; Sanz, L.J .; de los Ríos, P .; Left, S .; Román, P .; Hernangómez, L .; Navas, E .; Thief, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical psychology. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 02. CEDE. Madrid.

Cannabinoid and Harm Reduction among cannabis users | S.Béguerie, Cannafest 2015 (March 2024).

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