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ASK DOCTOR Can marijuana cause mental illness?

It is true that marijuana can cause mental illness and many mentally unstable patients in Uganda have a history of marijuana addiction. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 20% of mental patients in Uganda have a history of drug addiction and 80.8% of them were addicted to cannabis.

Despite the fact that cannabis is considered a medicinal herb, it has the potential to cause mental illness. It has also been observed that some mentally illness patients take marijuana as a form of self-medication to deal with their symptoms.

The researchers in the study explain, “studies have shown that exposure to cannabis increases the risk of psychosis. However, it is also reported that psychosis may be a risk factor for cannabis use, because individuals who suffer from psychosis begin to self-medicate with cannabis”. Similar findings have been made by a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry this year.

The study revealed that taking cannabis daily tripled the chances of developing a mental disorder, but using high potency cannabis made users five times more likely to be affected. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2017, also made similar observations,

“Using cannabis triggers mental health problems in people who seemed to be well before, or it can worsen any mental health problems you already have.

Research has shown that people who are already at risk of developing mental health problems are more likely to start showing symptoms of mental illness if they use cannabis regularly. For example, if someone in your family has depression or schizophrenia, you are at higher risk of getting these illness when you use cannabis.

They explained that the risk of developing mental illness as a result of cannabis abuse, increases among younger people depending on when they started using it. This is because the brain is still developing and can be more easily damaged by the chemicals in cannabis.

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