Marijuana, Delta-8 and The Risk of Psychosis

April 5, 2023

A man writes down notes on his patient, an out-of-focus woman sits and watches.

As many states begin to legalize the recreational and medical use of marijuana, studies have shown that there is an increase in paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosis amongst marijuana-users.

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Delta-8 THC is a “largely unregulated psychoactive isomer of traditional delta-9-THC” — which is the strain of marijuana that is illegal in states for recreational use and is the most common illicit substance being consumed.

With the increase of Delta-8 consumption being driven by states that do not allow legal consumption of Delta-9 THC (traditional marijuana), there has been a stark uptake in emergency room visits and lasting psychiatric conditions associated with its use.

Since there is not a way to test directly using standard drug tests, as well as the FDA not being able to regulate its consumption, the influx of patients living through adverse effects has increased in all areas on the country.

Delta 8 and Psychosis

The National Poison Control Association has reported 2362 known exposures to harmful Delta-8 THC in the year of 2021. This exposure has led to an increase of what clinicians are calling the “cannabis-psychosis link.” A study that utilized seven cohorts of cannabis users versus nonusers was able to show that there was a 40% increased risk of psychosis in cannabis users. There was also a “dose-response” effect where with increased usage — the risk of psychotic symptoms increased from 40% to 200% in those who used cannabis frequently.

A Concerning Increase

A combination of both extended marijuana usage alongside predisposition to mental health concerns has led to an increase in a population where psychosis and schizophrenia have increased significantly.

In the absence of cannabis usage, those who would typically develop schizophrenia or psychosis are believed to have worse symptoms and higher vulnerability.

However, according to the National Institute on Mental Illness (NIMH), “Those who develop schizophrenia following cannabis use tend to have more severe positive psychotic symptoms, fewer negative psychotic symptoms, fewer cognitive deficits, better premorbid functioning, acute onset of psychosis without a prodromal period, a shorter duration of untreated psychosis and fewer soft signs of neurologic dysfunction than those who developed schizophrenia in the absence of cannabis exposure,” and can be more difficult to identify and treat than schizophrenia or psychosis without cannabis exposure.

Overall, clinicians have continuously encouraged patients, especially adolescents, to stay away from continued marijuana and Delta-8 usage, especially when predisposed to mental health conditions.

About Central Florida Behavioral Hospital

Central Florida Behavioral Hospital is a homelike facility that offers treatment to children, adolescents and adults suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. Located in Orlando, FL, our nine acre campus provides a serene and therapeutic environment, perfect for healing and growth.

We offer high-quality care with all of our services that also comes with a supportive staff. Some of our services include our inpatientoutpatientchildren’sadolescent and general adult programs. All of these programs feature evidence-based therapies and are designed to meet the individual needs of our patients.

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