How cannabis users may develop psychosis

February 22, 2016

smoking cannabisIn a 6 minute report for doctors today, researchers have identified a gene which can be used to predict a person’s susceptibility to developing psychosis from cannabis use.

While it is known that using the drug daily doubles the risk of developing a psychotic disorder, their discovery will enable relatively easy identification of those who are most vulnerable.

Their study shows that young cannabis users with variation in the AKT1 gene experience visual distortions, paranoia and other psychotic-like symptoms more strongly than those without the gene.

It also shows that women are potentially more susceptible to short-term memory loss from cannabis than men.
“Working memory following cannabis was worse in females, with some suggestion of an impact of catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphism on working memory when drug-free,” write the researchers in Translational Psychiatry.

“These findings are the first to demonstrate that people with this AKT1 genotype are far more likely to experience strong effects from smoking cannabis, even if they are otherwise healthy,” says lead researcher Dr Celia Morgan, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter, UK.

“Putting yourself repeatedly in a psychotic or paranoid state might be one reason why these people could go on to develop psychosis when they might not have done otherwise.”

Professor Jan Copeland, the founding Director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) at UNSW Australia will be speaking at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

Jane has worked in the addictions field for more than 25 years and is best known for her research developing and testing brief interventions for the management of cannabis use disorder among adults and adolescents.

The Conference will be held on the Gold Coast 19 – 20 May 2016. To register for the Conference CLICK HERE.

To read the 6 minute report in full CLICK HERE.

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