Marijuana use has become increasingly more common amongst teens and young adults with the legalization of cannabis in multiple states. Many assume this substance is safe for consumption, but there are a number of negative effects for those who frequently use or misuse marijuana. Included in the list of possible side effects is psychosis. However, knowing the signs to look out for can help someone who is experiencing a psychotic break from marijuana use get the support and treatment they need.
Effects of Marijuana Use
Cannabis use affects both the mind and body of the person using the substance. While some effects only last for short periods of time, others can have long-term consequences. Immediate effects include:
- Altered senses (sounds, visual effects, sensitivity to touch)
- Impaired movement and thought processing
- Challenges with memory and decision making
- Hallucinations, delusions
Long-term use can cause symptoms such as:
- Lasting cognitive impairment
- Difficulty learning new information
- Breathing problems
- Increased heart rate
- Signs of schizophrenia, paranoia, or hallucinations
Bipolar Disorder and Marijuana
According to a 2017 research analysis, those with bipolar disorder have some of the highest rates of marijuana use among those with mental illnesses. In fact, some studies reviewed in this report note that almost 10% of people with bipolar have a cannabis use disorder. Those with this mental illness may be more likely to use the substance to help regulate their emotions, but it often has the opposite effect. The same research analysis reports that marijuana use can increase the intensity and duration of manic episodes and create rapid cycling between manic and depressive episodes. The substance can also increase suicidal ideation and symptoms of psychosis, resulting in a psychotic break.
What is a Psychotic Break?
A psychotic break occurs when someone loses touch with reality. This usually includes hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. In the mental health field, professionals refer to this as psychosis or a psychotic episode. This can be a warning sign that a person could develop schizophrenia in the future, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that will happen. In fact, less than one percent of U.S. adults develop schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Rather, it’s more common that people will exhibit temporary symptoms of psychosis that can be managed through treatment and lifestyle changes.
Signs of a Psychotic Break from Marijuana Use
Psychosis that comes as a result of marijuana use has similar characteristics to other types of psychotic breaks. Early signs of this include:
- Seeing shadows or objects that others don’t
- Hearing voices or ringing in the ears
- Smelling or tasting things that others can’t
- Difficulty thinking clearly
A full psychotic break will involve both hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations occur when a person hears, sees, or feels something that isn’t present in reality. Delusions are beliefs that are either untrue, irrational, or based on an altered perception of reality. This can include a person believing they have special powers, are being controlled by external forces, or are on a special type of mission.
Treating Psychosis Due to Marijuana Use
Cannabis use increases the chances that someone will experience a psychotic episode, and those with bipolar disorder are at an even greater risk. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in treating young men who are managing substance use and mental health issues. Psychosis can be a terrifying experience, especially when people aren’t sure what’s going on. We help the gentlemen in our program develop coping skills for symptoms they are experiencing while addressing underlying diagnoses contributing to their condition. Our multiple levels of treatment provide support in all stages of recovery. If you or a young man you know would benefit from an integrative treatment program, contact us today.