July 29, 2021

The risk of suffering schizophrenia in young people who use cannabis increases

The risk of suffering schizophrenia in young people who use cannabis increases



Experts in psychiatry have been reluctant to legalize cannabis because of the risks involved in its use, especially in young people, in whom the absence of "risk perception" and a brain still in development increase the risk of suffering psychosis or schizophrenia.

It is one of the conclusions of the "EFE Health Dialogues: Mental Health and Addictions", in which psychiatrists Augusto Zafra, responsible for Mental Health and Detoxification units at the Vithas Nisa Valencia al Mar and Aguas Vivas hospitals participated; Gonzalo Haro, responsible for the Dual Pathology program of the Provincial Hospital of Castellón; and José Martínez Raga, vice president of the Spanish Society of Dual Pathology (SEPD).

At the meeting, organized by the EFE Agency in collaboration with Vithas Nisa Hospitals and held at the Ateneo de Valencia, Pilar Martínez, who is in treatment for an addiction to alcohol, has also participated.

According to Zafra, a developing brain will connect "according to the stimuli" it receives, and the younger one, which because of age has "more immature" coping mechanisms, does not have the perception that certain behaviors, behaviors or ingestion of substances "provoke A damage".

Thus, he said, "a brain that develops from the age of 13 years consuming a joint of cannabis on the 1st of every month, will have cannabis the brain all year round. Imagine what can develop in a brain with that exogenous substance" .

He considers that "two speeches have been unified", that of the "therapeutic effect of cannabis on very circumscribed ailments in hospital use and under strict control" and that he affirms that cannabis "does nothing, when it is known that it can lead to disorders cognitive or rupture of the vital project in young people ".

According to Zafra, in the United States it has been seen that in places where there has been a legalization for the medicinal use of cannabis "the prevalence of addicts has increased" to the illegal consumption of this drug.

"What is opening is the umbrella, the ease of access" and, therefore, considers "very important" the legal measures that are related to the prevention of their consumption.

For his part, Haro has assured, after remembering that addiction is a "chronic disease", that it is necessary to be "realistic and accept" that if young people smoke cannabis at an early age -between 13 and 16 years old- and when their brain is under development, "will increase the prevalence of patients with schizophrenia."

"We have to prepare ourselves to give them an existential response, especially to those young people who do not have the luck that their family supports them," he said.

Haro stressed that society was aware that smoking was a mental illness when they began to appear cases of cancer related to their consumption. "Right now the debate in young people is cannabis," he added.

Martínez Raga has been "totally against" the legalization of cannabis because he believes that exposure to vulnerable people would increase, and has warned that the use of this drug in the hours before a traffic accident "increases by three or four that ends in death. "

In addition, he recalled that a study conducted in Australia concluded that people who consumed two to three joints per day for fifteen years "decreased the IQ in the long term."

"I think it would be a serious error to legalize it, a different issue is that we consider a therapeutic use," said Martinez Raga, who recalled that cocaine is in the pharmacopoeia of some countries for otorhinolaryngological anesthesia and opioids are also used for different indications, but "however no one considers to legalize them".

"It's about controlling that prescription and the same could happen with cannabis, but that does not mean that there has to be a legalization," the expert warned.

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