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Does Marijuana contribute to psychotic illness?

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Dr. Preeti Parakh

Addiction Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 1486 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 23 Oct 2015 in Bipolar Disorder
Question: My teenage son has struggled this past year with extreme anger/ behavior issues. He is does drugs (marijuana) which oddly is the only thing that seems to calm him. Is this normal? Is there another legal way that I can help him to manage before he get hurt or in trouble with the law? He has a history of mental issues in the family.
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Answered by Dr. Preeti Parakh 49 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Marijuana makes him prone to developing schizophrenia

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Welcome to Healthcare Magic!

Anger and aggression are to some extent common in teenage due to hormonal changes and also because this is a period of emotional turbulence. One is neither a child nor an adult and is often confused by the attitude of other people who at times treat one as a child and at other times, exhort one to behave like an adult. However, I notice that you mention that your son is having extreme anger issues. In view of the history of mental illness in the family, this in my opinion, calls for a detailed mental assessment.

Excessive anger can be a symptom of prodromal phase of schizophrenia, when there are no other symptoms to aid a diagnosis. It can also be seen in other mental illnesses. Marijuana is very commonly used by people with mental illness as a form of self-medication but unfortunately, marijuana also increases one's risk of developing schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and other problems, especially in people with a family history of mental illness. Association between marijuana and schizophrenia is well known and well researched, even though most of the public perceives it as a harmless recreational drug.

For your son, using marijuana is not a good option. I understand it will be difficult to convince him to see a doctor but please try to cajole him into doing this. Tell him that he has a serious risk of developing schizophrenia if he continues with marijuana. If he wants something from you, you can ask him to agree to seeing a doctor in return. If not, just show him the huge amount of research on the link between marijuana and schizophrenia that is easily available on the internet and try to convince him.

I hope this helps him. Please feel free to ask in case you need any clarifications.

Best wishes.

Dr Preeti Parakh
MD Psychiatry

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
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