With 5 million daily users, cannabis is the most common illicit drug in the world with ~5 million daily users worldwide. It is the second most popular substance in America after alcohol. In 2014, there were 18.1 million users in the U.S, a rise from 14.5 million in 2007. It was also the most popular illegal drug among those aged 12–17 years.
In 2014, there was a study on the association between cannabis and psychosis that raised concerns over cannabinoids and addiction disorders. This study looked at the prevalence and impact of cannabis and Spice on the US population, before publishing its recommendations.
The Study Also Looked Into The Factors That Might Exaggerate Any Link Between Cannabinoids, Addiction Disorders, And Mental Illness
Social factors are of great importance when looking at the cause of mental health disorders. This study looked at links between social situations, family problems, and genetics to find links. The researchers reported that those that had exposure early in life were more likely to develop psychosis and psychiatric issues.
Further studies showed that this was even more likely in those that had mental disorders or a history of abuse or childhood trauma. They reported that there is enough causation between psychosis in schizophrenia and cannabis use to be of concern. Then there are the genetic findings. Users with the polymorphisms COMT and AKT1 could be at increased risk for psychotic disorders with drug addiction.
The Use Of Cannabis And Related Drug Abuse Is Growing In The US
There are two ways of looking at the rise of cannabis use in the US. On the one hand, there is the rise in medical marijuana and recreational marijuana depending on state law. These laws allow the use of the drug with certain regulations.
Then there is the use of marijuana as an illegal substance among the young. Studies showed that around 1.3% of eighth graders in 2011 were for daily cannabis use. Also, results show that the average age of drug addiction onset is decreasing. There are some major concerns here for those worried about drug addiction and the effect of cannabinoids on users.
The first is the fact that this substance has become more potent. Tests have found that new strains are far more potent. Then there is the issue of accessibility to cannabis for vulnerable people with pre-existing conditions.
Of Course, A Discussion About Cannabinoids And Addiction Disorders Wouldn’t Be Complete Without Talking About Spice
Spice, also known as K2, is a legal high that has grown in popularity, and accessibility in recent years. This is a synthetic cannabinoid substance with a potent chemical formula. In 2014, 11.4% of high school seniors had used it. The more alarming statistic here is the fact that there were 149 visits to emergency departments per 100,000 people.
That is the second highest rate of drug abuse after cocaine. This is a dangerous drug due to the prevalence of drug addiction and the uncertainty of ingredients. There is also a strong risk of mental health issues, as many users suffer acute psychotic episodes after taking it.
What Does This Mean For The Link Between Drug Disorders And Mental Disorders?
These studies have led to some important findings on the impact of both cannabis and synthetic cannabis on drug disorders. It is necessary to remember that most people that choose to smoke cannabis are unlikely to develop psychosis. There is a connection between the cognitive issues and drug and psychophysiological problems, some of which may mimic schizophrenia.
However, there are few strong links to full psychosis. There are also incidents where drug addiction coupled with a pre-existing mental disorder can have an impact. Here, use of cannabinoids, either natural or synthetic, can trigger relapses and incite symptoms.
This all means that there are still some concerns over the true impact of a cannabinoid substances on mental health. There are therefore calls for further studies to determine the effect of the prolonged use of the user, especially those with a history of mental illness. A big reason for this is the increase in legislation to legalize marijuana, either medicinally or recreationally.
It is important that we know about the true impact of drug abuse via cannabinoids on cognitive function and mental health. This means the impact of prolonged use, early exposure and the effect on those with other mental illnesses. The more we know, the better informed the public would be.