Smoking pot is illegal in several countries, but that doesn’t slow down the use of marijuana for both health and recreational reasons. However, it has always been assumed that mental health patients have been using pot as a self-medication to help alleviate the symptoms of their mental disorder.
A recent study by researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands has discovered that schizophrenic patients who use marijuana may see an initial benefit from smoking pot, but their symptoms become worse with pot use.
THC is already a known agent for triggering schizophrenia symptoms in those predisposed to the psychological disorder, but this study suggests that smoking pot may exacerbate symptoms for those who suffer from schizophrenia already. Almost immediately after smoking marijuana, the schizophrenic will feel better and more relaxed, but within a few hours, according to the study, their psychotic symptoms will not only return but be aggravated.
The study, which followed an even number of schizophrenic and healthy regular pot users, found that those who have schizophrenia are much more prone to experience strong side effects from smoking marijuana, both good and bad.
Cecile Henquet, the lead researcher on the project for the Maastricht University Medical Center, explains, “People feel better when they use cannabis, and that’s logical, because otherwise they wouldn’t use [it]. In spite of that, in the long run it’s not so good for their psychotic symptoms.” The researchers believe schizophrenics should avoid the use of pot for any reason, since it only makes symptoms of mental disorders worse.
The study refutes earlier speculation that smoking pot could reduce delusions and hallucinations, two hallmark symptoms schizophrenia sufferers are forced to deal with. The study was published this month in the British Journal of Psychiatry, and provides at least part of the explanation about why sufferers of schizophrenia who also smoke pot often require more hospitalizations. It also helps explain why the group would have lower scores on memory tests.