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Mental Health & Marijuana / Anti Marijuana Educational Video    26 11, 2007

Mental Health & Marijuana / Anti Marijuana Educational Video. Public service announcement public domain video: ONDCP Press Conference: Marijuana and Your Teen's Mental Health. When: 5/3/2005. Sponsor: SAMHSA/ONDCP. Experts Alert Parents About Mental Health Harms of Teens' Marijuana Use.Mental health experts and scientists joined high-ranking government officials to discuss an emerging body of research that identifies clear links between marijuana use and mental health disorders, including depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. The speakers alerted parents about the connection between marijuana use and their teens' mental health. A couple whose 15-year-old committed suicide also spoke. Released at the event was a compendium of recent research linking marijuana and mental illness; a new SAMHSA report about the correlation between age of first marijuana use and serious mental illness; and an open letter to parents on "Marijuana and Your Teen's Mental Health," signed by 12 of the Nation's leading mental health organizations, which is running in major newspapers and newsweeklies across the country. WHERE: National Press Club. 529 14th St., NW, 13th Floor; Washington, DC 20045; Lisagor Room; Neil McKeganey, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D., Professor of Drug Misuse Research and Director, Centre for Drug Misuse Research, Glasgow University, Glasgow, Scotland, UK; BACKGROUND: In 1998, with the bipartisan support of Congress and the President, the Office of National Drug Control Policy created the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to educate and empower youth to reject illicit drugs. There is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods of time in the past. Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia. However, does cannabis cause depression and schizophrenia or do people with these disorders use it as a medication? Over the past few years, research has strongly suggested that there is a clear link between early cannabis use and later mental health problems in those with a genetic vulnerability - and that there is a particular issue with the use of cannabis by adolescents. A study following 1600 Australian school-children, aged 14 to 15 for seven years, found that while children who use cannabis regularly have a significantly higher risk of depression, the opposite was not the case - children who already suffered from depression were not more likely than anyone else to use cannabis. However, adolescents who used cannabis daily were five times more likely to develop depression and anxiety in later life. Three major studies followed large numbers of people over several years, and showed that those people who use cannabis have a higher than average risk of developing schizophrenia. If you start smoking it before the age of 15, you are 4 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder by the time you are 26. They found no evidence of self-medication. It seemed that, the more cannabis someone used, the more likely they were to develop symptoms. Why should teenagers be particularly vulnerable to the use of cannabis? No one knows for certain, but it may be something to do with brain development. The brain is still developing in the teenage years -- up to the age of around 20, in fact. A massive process of 'neural pruning' is going on. This is rather like streamlining a tangled jumble of circuits so they can work more effectively. Any experience, or substance, that affects this process has the potential to produce long-term psychological effects. Recent research in Europe, and in the UK, has suggested that people who have a family background of mental illness -- so probably have a genetic vulnerability anyway - are more likely to develop schizophrenia if they use cannabis as well. Is there such a thing as 'cannabis psychosis'? Recent research in Denmark suggests that yes, there is. It is a short-lived psychotic disorder that seems to be brought on by cannabis use but which subsides fairly quickly once the individual has stopped using it. It's quite unusual though -- in the whole of Denmark they found only around 100 new cases per year. However, they also found that: Three quarters had a different psychotic disorder diagnosed within the next year Nearly half still had a psychotic disorder 3 years later. So, it also seems probable that nearly half of those diagnosed as having cannabis psychosis are actually showing the first signs of a more long-lasting psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. It may be this group of people who are particularly vulnerable. Public domain video.

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