We’ve heard so many studies predicting that cannabis use leads to or exacerbates psychoses. This study out of South Africa appears to predict just the opposite – that cannabis use may shorten and decrease episodes of psychoses!
Department of Psychiatry, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
OBJECTIVE: Cannabis use/abuse is a common co-morbid problem in patients experiencing a first episode of psychotic illness (FEP). The relationship between the clinical presentation of FEP and cannabis abuse is complex and warrants further investigation, especially within the South African context.
METHOD: We tested associations between recent/current cannabis use and duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), age of onset (AO), PANSS-rated (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) positive, negative and general psychopathology symptoms and depressive symptoms (Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia) in a sample of 54 patients with FEP.
RESULTS: Mean DUP was 34.4 weeks, while mean AO was 24.7 years. Co-morbid cannabis use occurred in 35% of the sample and was significantly associated with shorter DUP (Mann-Whitney U, p=0.026). While not significant, there was also a trend association between cannabis use and lower negative symptoms (Mann-Whitney U, p=0.051).
CONCLUSION: Current/recent cannabis use was associated with clinical features of psychosis onset that previously have been associated with better outcome. Medium and long-term outcome for cannabis users however, is likely to depend on whether or not cannabis use is ongoing.