In the United States, marijuana is legal in 37 states for medical purposes and in 19 states for recreational use. However, despite more and more states legalizing marijuana use, there are still various arguments as to whether it has positive or negative effects on one’s health. Several studies suggest that marijuana use is linked to increased risk for psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.
Why does this happen? How much weed do I have to use to experience these effects? Do stimulants enhance the effects?
Whether and to what extent weed causes these conditions are not easy to determine. Continue reading to see what research is saying about weed paranoia and psychosis.
Many often associate cannabis with relaxation, but it’s also known to heighten feelings of paranoia or anxiety in others. Paranoia is when someone has an irrational suspicion of other people, like feeling someone is watching you, following you, or trying to harm you.
THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, like the amygdala, which regulates the response to fear-related emotions. Weed that’s rich in THC may overstimulate the amygdala, increasing negative emotions that make you feel paranoid and anxious.
Not everyone experiences paranoia with weed, and those who do may not experience it every single time they use it. There’s no correct answer as to why someone experiences paranoia with weed, but some factors to consider are genetics, THC content, or the use of stimulants.
Psychosis is when someone experiences a disconnection from reality, such as hallucinations or delusions. It is not exactly a condition but rather is the description of symptoms that may arise from different mental health disorders, including addiction. Symptoms of psychosis include unrealistic paranoia, overwhelming anxiety, a detached sense from reality, hallucinations, or delusions.
A hallucination refers to a sensory perception that isn’t real, such as seeing, hearing, or smelling something that nobody else does. A delusion describes a false belief, like having supernatural powers or that someone’s trying to kill you. Psychosis typically involves both, but it is possible to experience one without the other.
Cannabis-induced psychosis disorder (CIPD) generally involves severe hallucinations or delusions during or shortly after the use of cannabis. While many drugs are capable of producing symptoms of psychosis, cannabis-induced psychosis builds over time with consistent cannabis abuse.
Any type of substance abuse disorder can eventually lead to psychological problems, changes in personality, or psychotic episodes that may pose a threat to the individual or those around them. People experiencing these psychotic episodes may lash out and cause harm to themselves or others without even being aware of their actions.
Even though substances such as opioids or LSD are generally more harmful than cannabis, the appearance rate of cannabis-induced psychosis is greater than any other drug. States that have passed legislation for recreational marijuana use have reported large increases in the number of psychotic episodes in emergency rooms related to cannabis. The daily use of highly potent weed increases the chances of developing psychosis by five times as opposed to those who have never used it before.
Signs of Cannabis-Induced Psychosis
Psychosis can cause many troubling symptoms. If you witness any of these symptoms in someone who uses weed regularly, it is vital to understand that the situation could quickly worsen.
- Atypical behavior: a person who is typically outgoing then becomes withdrawn and reclusive.
- Severe anxiety: feelings of paranoia or unrealistic interpretations of the surrounding environment can become overwhelming very quickly and without intervention.
- Detachment from reality: people experiencing a psychotic episode may seem distracted or unresponsive. They may have difficulty recognizing familiar people or loved ones’ names.
- Hallucinations: this can be hearing, seeing, or remembering things that aren’t real.
- Sleep problems: often, those struggling with drug-induced psychosis have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping at acceptable times.
- Depression- these experiences are stressful, causing some people to develop symptoms of depression.
Effects of Stimulants With Marijuana
Stimulants refer to drugs that increase the activity of the central nervous system, elevating your blood pressure, heart rate, mood, energy, and alertness. These “uppers” can be highly addictive and have been found to cause paranoia. Stimulants can include cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription medications for ADHD.
There is little research on the matter because the effects will vary depending on the individual. Combining weed with other stimulants has been shown to enhance certain experiences and cancel out others.
For more information specific to Adderall, read our article on What Happens When You Combine Adderall and Weed.
Factors To Consider
There are many different factors to consider as to why psychosis may develop, such as the amount of weed used, the age at first use, and genetics.
If someone smokes weed consistently, their body will develop a tolerance to the drug. This is why those who use marijuana every day often use high-potency strains of marijuana. The higher the amount of THC, the more intense the effects become, which can lead to climactic or even dangerous episodes.
Weed is one of the most commonly abused substances among people with schizophrenia, a mental health condition that can cause psychosis. However, if you have specific genes or already have schizophrenia, the symptoms may get worse with marijuana use. Some of the genes that may develop into schizophrenia are AKT1 and COMT.
Research shows that there may be a link between mental health disorders and how early in life one participates in cannabis use. Men typically show signs of schizophrenia in their late teens to early 20s and women in their late 20s to early 30s, but using marijuana can make symptoms show up as much as 3 years earlier. This may be because the human brain is still developing until about the age of 25. Thus, adolescent drug use may affect the brain’s development.
While there is no significant evidence for weed being a direct cause of psychosis, there is significant evidence for increased risk of alcohol and other drug use disorders.
Overcoming Cannabis Use Disorder
When it comes to toxic exposure, the brain is one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body. While cannabis is legal in many states and thought to be one of the “safest” options for recreational drug use, the reality is that extensive cannabis use has an undeniable effect on brain chemistry and can lead to dangerous mental health events. All cannabis users should consider the link between weed and psychosis symptoms and pay close attention to the signs.
If you have been experiencing psychological disorders such as paranoia or psychosis related to substance abuse, Healthy Life Recovery can help. We are a drug and alcohol rehab center located in San Diego, California, that can help you cope with the symptoms of mental health disorders and recover from addiction. Call us today at (855) 695-1880 to learn more.
“Is There a Link between Marijuana Use and Psychiatric Disorders?” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13 Apr. 2021, https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/there-link-between-marijuana-use-psychiatric-disorders.
Russell, Peter. “Study Sheds Light on Marijuana and Paranoia.” WebMD, WebMD, 17 July 2014, https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20140717/marijuana-paranoia.