Marijuana is not the easy breezy, laidback substance that so many make it out to be. For many users, it can induce feelings of paranoia and have a negative effect on mood. It’s a problem, but it’s not one that is stopping too many people from indulging in the substance. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), about 180 million people around the world have used marijuana in the last year. That’s about 6.4 percent of adults between the ages of 16 and 59, and about 40 percent of that number report using the drug once per month.
Given the continuing evolution of legislation on the subject, it’s clear that the American public believes that getting stoned is not that bad if you only do it once in a while. But with side effects such as paranoia, is it a risk worth worrying about?
What exactly defines the paranoia felt by some who smoke marijuana? In most cases, it means feeling suspicious of the motivations of everyone around you, with or without cause. In and of itself, the feeling may be uncomfortable and cause no more harm than that. But for others, the feelings can make it difficult for them to function or interact with others for as long as they remain under the influence. For those who feel it most overwhelmingly, especially if they are also dealing with underlying mental health disorders that make them prone to paranoia already, they may be more likely to behave erratically as a result of the belief that someone is actively trying to cause them serious harm.
It’s important to note that this, as with everything else related to the substance abuse and addiction experience, exists on a spectrum. Some people who smoke marijuana will never experience a second of paranoia, but according to a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine, those who smoke marijuana are about three times as likely as non-users to believe that others are trying to harm them and about five times as likely to believe that others are trying to cause them serious harm.
The Link to Mental Health Issue
Generally speaking, early and heavy use of marijuana has been linked to issues with mental health disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia later in adulthood, but there is no consensus on whether marijuana actually causes the problem or triggers it in people who are predisposed to these disorders.
Paranoia is a symptom of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but it can be caused directly by marijuana use separate from these diagnoses as effectively demonstrated by a study published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin. For most people, it wears off with the drug. For others, it lingers and becomes an ongoing problem or a part of an underlying diagnosis.
Treating Mental Health Issues and Addiction
At the end of the day, determining if the addiction or the mental health symptoms came first matters little when it comes to effective treatment. A dual diagnosis treatment center with the resources to provide comprehensive care that addresses both issues is the best choice for long-lasting recovery.
Learn more about dual diagnosis rehab and how it can help your loved one overcome marijuana addiction and stabilize mental health symptoms when you contact us at the phone number listed above. Our admissions coordinators are available now to talk with you about how we can help.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton