What's Pushing Cannabis Use in First-Episode Psychosis?
The desire to feel better is a major driver for patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) to turn to cannabis, new research shows. An analysis of more than 1300 individuals from six European countries showed patients with FEP were four times more likely than their healthy peers to start smoking cannabis in order to make themselves feel better. The results also revealed that initiating cannabis use to feel better was associated with a more than threefold risk of being a daily user. These findings could be used to help tailor treatment interventions, as well as offer an opportunity for psychoeducation — particularly as the reasons for starting cannabis appear to influence frequency of use, study investigator Edoardo Spinazzola, MD, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, UK, told Medscape Medical News.
@mimi Previous studies suggest that cannabis use can increase risk for psychosis up to 3.9-fold, with both frequency of use and potency playing a role, the researchers note. However, they add that "skeptics" argue the association could be due to individuals with psychosis using cannabis as a form of self-medication, the comorbid effect of other psychogenic drugs, or there being a common genetic vulnerability between cannabis use and psychosis. The reasons for starting cannabis use remain "largely unexplored," so the researchers examined records from the European network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) database, which includes patients with FEP and healthy individuals acting as controls from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, and Brazil.