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According to a new study, those people who have psychosis-or who have had an episode of psychotic symptoms-should stay away from marijuana. Those who smoke pot after a psychotic break are likely to have recovery issues, experts warn.
Because cannabis has been found to increase users risk for psychosis, researchers wanted to investigate whether pot smoking was associated with poor functional outcome for those who had suffered a psychotic break. After a detailed randomized-controlled study a group of researchers, led by Dr. Gunnar Faber of Yulius Mental Health Institute in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, found that continued use of marijuana after the onset of a first episode of psychosis is directly related to worse social outcome.

Scientists now believe that people who have suffered from psychosis should avoid using marijuana recreationally. While the effects of this study were slight, the findings suggest that social life and financial independence were affected by the pot smoking of the mental health patients studied. The study confirms what doctors have speculated for years.

The new study examined 124 people who participated in a clinical trial regarding long-term treatment with antipsychotic medication. These participants went on medication after a first- time episode of psychosis. During the trial, the individuals were asked about cannabis usage. Around 20 percent of those studied continued to smoke pot throughout the two year evaluation period.

According to the article the researchers published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, around 50 percent of study participants had eradication of symptoms and pot smokers were just as likely as non-smokers to recover and have “clinical recovery”- meaning their symptoms left and they got back to their activities of daily living normally or close to it. However, the marijuana users were found to have an increased risk of social problems and scored lower on questionnaires that gauged financial independence and socialization.

Dr. Faber and associates believe that this could mean continuing pot use has detrimental effect on social functioning but it may vary from one user to another. These findings do not mean that pot-smokers are not socially capable, just at risk for problems. Pot smoking keeps users from going out and decreases work ethic, making it a social impairing substance to begin with. People with mental health problems are susceptible to further impairment with the use of the illegal substance, the researchers reported.


According to WebMD, marijuana comes from the hemp plant “Cannabis sativa” and it is the most frequently used “illegal” drug in America, with around 4 percent of adults reporting smoking it. It is estimated that around 1% of adults abuse the substance and 1 in 300 have a full blown marijuana addiction. The active ingredient in the plant is THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. This substance, THC, is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream through the lungs when the pot is smoked.

The medical effects of marijuana include rapid heart rate, increased rate of breathing, red eyes, increased blood pressure, dry mouth, slowed reaction time, and increased appetite. These  effects usually last around three or four hours. The main psychological effect of pot is the euphoria or “high” it brings the smoker. These also have a distorted sense of time, paranoia, short-term memory loss, anxiety, depression, and magical thinking.

  • Faber, G., Henderikus, G., Smid, O.M., Van Gool, A., Wunderink, L., van den Bosch, R., & Wiersma, D. (2012). Continued Cannabis Use and Outcome in First-Episode Psychosis: Data From a Randomized, Open-Label, Controlled Trial. Retrieved from: http://article.psychiatrist.com/dao_1-login.asp?ID=10007755&RSID=81751861826570
  • Norton, A. (2012).Pot tied to more trouble with psychosis recovery. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-pot-psychosis-idUSTRE81S28S20120229
  • WebMD.com (2012). Marijuana use and its effects. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/marijuana-use-and-its-effects
  • Photo courtesy of drome on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/drome/2928600995