Categories
General News News for Colorado

Users of Today’s More Potent Marijuana At Greater Risk Of Psychosis

Image by RAJESH misra
Image by RAJESH misra

A British study published recently in the medical journal The Lancet found that the risk of psychosis was more than five times higher for those who used high-potency marijuana daily than for those who had never tried marijuana.

The risk was three times higher for those who used high-potency marijuana less frequently.  The risk was also three times higher for those who used less potent marijuana, but on a daily basis.

Psychosis is a condition in which the individual becomes so mentally disordered that he loses contact with reality.  The symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

Marijuana (cannabis) is a hallucinogen that distorts how the mind perceives reality.  The main ingredient responsible for the mind-altering effect is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

The level of THC in marijuana has steadily increased over the past several decades, due to changes in growing techniques.  THC concentrations in cannabis averaged 1% in 1974 and 4% in 1994.

By 2012, THC levels averaged close to 15%,    according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  But a University of Mississippi laboratory that tests the marijuana potency of marijuana seized by federal law enforcement officers has found THC concentration as high as 37%.

Studies have consistently reported that the use of marijuana is linked to an increased risk of psychosis.  After a systematic review of the scientific literature on marijuana use, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) issued a report in 2014 that acknowledged there is “substantial evidence that THC intoxication can cause acute psychotic symptoms, which are worse with higher doses.”

A 2012 study by the British Schizophrenia Commission went even further, concluding that cannabis use is the single most preventable risk factor for psychosis.

Colorado statistics from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that for the two-year period 2012-2013, one out of every eight (12.7%) Colorado residents over the age of 12, or roughly half a million Coloradoans, were current marijuana users.  The Survey defines current users as having used marijuana during the prior month.  That figure does not include any data for the year 2014, when the number of current users almost certainly increased from the legalization of recreational marijuana.

A separate 2014 report on the demand for marijuana in Colorado, prepared for the Colorado Department of Revenue, estimated that one out of every five (21.8%) current marijuana users in Colorado is a daily or near-daily user.

This suggests that more than 100,000 Coloradoans are at three times higher risk of psychosis than non-users, with the portion of them using high-potency marijuana at more than five times higher risk.

Not surprisingly, Colorado has experienced a rising trend in the number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits linked to marijuana use, which presumably include patients treated for marijuana-induced psychosis.  According to CDPHE’s 2014 report on marijuana, “there were large increases in poison center calls, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits observed after medical marijuana was commercialized in 2010 and additional increases after retail (recreational) marijuana was legalized in 2014.”

Parents are well-advised to speak with their children about the danger of psychosis resulting from the use of marijuana.  Episodes of psychosis requiring hospitalization have been known to occur with the very first use of the drug.  National statistics on children from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate that one out of every seven (15.6%) children in 8th grade have used marijuana sometime in their lives, and nearly half (44.4%) have tried it by the 12th grade.  The most recent statistics on Colorado adolescents and young adults from CDPHE indicate that approximately one out of every five (20%) Colorado high school students has used marijuana in the past month, and 37% have tried it at some point.

Categories
News for Colorado

CSU Student With Bizarre Behavior Had An Unprescribed Psychostimulant – A Growing Trend On College Campuses

A Fort Collins teen accused of stealing an ambulance on November 2, fleeing in it to Loveland and then crashing the vehicle was reportedly in possession of Adderall, a psych drug with the known side effects of delusions, mania and aggression.

According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Stefan Sortland, 18, would not follow police commands as he was being apprehended, causing police to subdue him with a stun gun.  He reportedly told police officers that he was “following the bright lights” and rambled on about things not related to his situation.

By Patrick Mallahan III (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Patrick Mallahan III (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A search of “Adderall” on CCHR International’s psych drug side effects search engine reveals 10 warnings by international drug regulatory authorities and 4 studies linking the drug to dangerous side effects that include hallucinations, psychosis, sensory disturbances, anger, aggression, heart problems, stroke, and sudden death.

Even more disturbing, a major study has revealed that psychostimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have never been proven safe or effective.  Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, the Department of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and several other institutions concluded that the clinical trials for drugs approved as “treatment” for ADHD were not designed to assess adverse events or long-term safety and effectiveness.

Adderall is an amphetamine/dextroamphetamine drug.  It is a schedule II controlled substance in the same class as cocaine, morphine and opium because of its high risk of addiction.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the drug to carry a black-box warning that the drug has a high potential for abuse.

Individual responses to amphetamines vary widely, and harmful effects can be experienced even at low doses.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, taking stimulants like Adderall at usual doses can cause psychotic or manic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusional thinking, or mania, in children and adolescents who have no prior history of psychosis or mania.

Image by George Hodan
Image by George Hodan

Psychostimulants like Adderall and Ritalin have become popular among college students, many of whom do not have a prescription for it.  They believe the drugs will help them study, even though there have been no studies that show any correlation between using unprescribed stimulants and an increase in academic performance.

A National College Health Assessment last spring, which surveyed more than 66,000 students from 140 institutions around the country, found that about 9% admitted to taking stimulants not prescribed to them within the past 12 months.

Sortland, a student at Colorado State University, reportedly did not have a prescription for the Adderall and has been charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Meanwhile, medical emergencies related to this drug use is soaring.  The number of young adults ages 18 to 34 who end up in the emergency room after taking Adderall, Ritalin or other such stimulants has quadrupled in recent years, increasing from 5,600 in 2005 to 23,000 in 2011, according to national data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Peter J. Delany, the director of the office that oversees statistics for the administration, said the rise was particularly pronounced among 18- to 25-year-olds.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been damaged by a psychostimulant or other psych drug, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.