Cannabis and how it impacts schizophrenia

While cannabis has proven itself to be an alternative treatment for conditions such as glaucoma, cancer and alzheimer's, schizophrenia is very different.[1] This is largely because schizophrenia symptoms mirror those of psychosis. In order to fully understand the risks associated with cannabis usage and schizophrenia, the definition of psychosis must be explored.[2]

Psychosis is a disruption in the brain's perception and processing of reality. When someone suffers with psychotic symptoms, that process goes awry and things that shouldn't have any importance, begin to take importance.[1]

Cannabis and the symptoms of schizophrenia

The impact of cannabis on people living with schizophrenia comes from Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a molecule of cannabis that alters the state of mind and in itself, has psychosis-inducing properties. These properties directly impact symptoms of schizophrenia that include,[3]4

  • Delusions: People with schizophrenia often have a difficult time separating what's real and what's imaginary.
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations: Hallucinations impact each individual differently, some hear voices while others see things that are not there.
  • Speech impairment: Between poverty of speech and disorganised speech, a person with schizophrenia may often struggle to form coherent speech patterns or thought processes.
  • Unpredictable behaviour: Due to symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, a person with schizophrenia may have difficulty behaving normally.
How cannabis usage impacts schizophrenia

In addition to amplifying the symptoms of schizophrenia, scientists have found that frequent cannabis usage from a young age may be a cause of schizophrenia.[2] This is largely because cannabis often brings out symptoms of schizophrenia nearly three years earlier than normal. As a teenager, the brain is still developing, and using cannabis during this time will bring out the symptoms earlier.[1]

The positive of CBD in treating schizophrenia

Remember there are two components of cannabis, Cannabinol (CBD) and THC. While the effects of THC has many similarities with psychosis, CBD seems to reduce psychosis.[1] Long-term treatment of schizophrenia CBD is one of the reasons scientists continue to have hope that cannabis may be a reasonable treatment option. However, until then, it is important to remember there are proven and effective long-term treatment options for people living with schizophrenia. One such treatment includes a monthly injection, which reduces the symptoms of schizophrenia and has the following benefits,5

  • Freedom from taking daily oral medication
  • Improved medication adherence
  • More discreet method of medication
  • Improved quality of life - Decreases the stress on caregivers, who have to ensure daily oral medication is adhered to
  • Decreased risk of accidental or intended overdosing.

Even with medical advancement, it's important to get support and information from verified sources, that includes lifestyle strategies to compliment medical treatment.

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