Pot, Psychosis and "The Woman in 606"

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Everyone read Christopher Frizzelle's brutal, haunting new piece in Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, called “The Woman in 606”. It's about psychosis, loneliness, urban living, Seattle, depression, suicide, pot, and sexual abuse, and it'll force a reassessment of the crazies in your life that you try to avoid.

The Stranger editor does a great job of reminding the public that for “someone who has a tendency toward bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or any schizoaffective disorder, marijuana isn't good ... It can cause someone to go into a psychotic break. They would have to use it for a while, but it is not ideal for anyone with any kind of psychotic tendencies."

THC, the main psychoactive molecule in weed is thought to aggravate latent or full-blown schizophrenia (which affects about .5 percent of the population)

From the article:

"'If you've had one schizophrenic episode or even something more modest, and then start smoking pot heavily afterwards, you're going to be more likely than not to have a second of those psychotic episodes.' Moreover, marijuana will make a psychotic episode worse than it would be otherwise.' Certainly anyone who has a twin with schizophrenia, a sibling with schizophrenia, a parent with schizophrenia would do well to stay away from the plant.' People with bipolar disorder are also prone to psychosis and should only use marijuana' with extreme caution.'"

Frizzelle also notes in the comments that cannabidiol, the second most prevalent cannabinoid in weed, can actually treat schizophrenia. Maybe that's partially why those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder seek out pot.

Bottom line: If you have schizophrenia (or bipolar disorder) — or predisposed to it — THC is a bad idea. Also, keep in mind that symptoms of a latent schizophrenic tendencies really bloom in the late teens and early twenties. So watch out for your buddies, experimenting co-eds.

For further context, some other common things that have been associated with a psychotic break from reality:

- 12 shots of espresso at once

- heavy short-term alcohol use

- heavy long-term alcohol use and withdrawal

- living alone in a big city that you are unfamiliar with

- giving birth

- any heavy trauma, really.

Do read "The Woman in 606". In a nation where it's often easier to get a shotgun than a mental health consultation, we all must take care of ourselves, and take care of each other.

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