Increasing numbers of young adults with a history of cannabis use throughout their adolescence are being treated for psychosis, according to one of the country’s leading psychiatrists.
rofessor Mary Cannon says the majority of young adults with psychosis in hospital wards in recent years will have started smoking the drug in their mid-teens, while cases of repeated drug-induced psychosis can put young adults on track to developing a chronic psychotic condition like schizophrenia.
In the wake of the statement from the College of Psychiatrists last week on their grave concern on the use of cannabis among young people, Prof Cannon says teenagers are tragically unaware of the long-term consequences of the drug use that she is now seeing in adult hospital wards.
“All the teenagers are hearing are the positive messages coming from social media, especially from the US. We have to protect our young people because they’re very vulnerable and their brains are still developing, and their mental health is fragile at that age,” she said.
The Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health is increasingly seeing young adult patients with cannabis habits presenting with psychosis.
“What we’re seeing a lot of in the inpatient wards is young men with psychosis, with psychotic illnesses. In my experience when I go to a young man or woman with psychosis now, my first thought is cannabis, and 70pc to 80pc of the time there will be a history of cannabis use since adolescence.
“The drug-induced psychosis would be what we’d see with the cannabis, but if you have a second or third episode of drug-induced psychosis, you’re on a track to develop a condition like schizophrenia, which can be quite chronic and last your whole life. We need to do proper studies in order to get the figures to highlight this.
“It is extremely worrying and really tragic because it is preventable.
“If you have one episode of drug-induced psychosis and then you stop and you never touch cannabis again for the rest of your life, the risk is probably, hopefully, you wouldn’t develop it.
“If we could even highlight that fact, that there is something you can do, just stop using it. Don’t touch the substance again.”