Psychiatry in the news 17 February 2009 – cannabis special

The Government this week launched an advertisement campaign aimed at teenage dabblers in cannabis.  It’s costing £2.2 million, and focuses on the unpleasant side effects of the drug. 

Watch the Ad 
Read a scathing review and some interesting comments

I don’t know who makes these things, but if teenagers today are anything like they were in my day (we didn’t have a VHS video recorder until I was fifteen, to put this in some sort of context) then being sick is actually an essential part of a recreational experience and therefore welcomed.  This advertisement will act, if anything, as a recruitment drive.

I’ve just discovered this documentary on cannabis, which looks interesting.

Riding on the back of this, TV doctor Mark Porter writes in the Times Cannabis and the risks: facts you need to know 

I wrote a post on cannabis ages ago called Cannabis and Jacqui Smith

I’m ashamed to admit that I find it difficult to understand how fearful we should be, doctors and public alike, of cannabis: does it really make otherwise healthy people psychotic? If so how many? Is it really getting stronger?  Didn’t smoking it used to be fun?  Expect a posting on this when time allows.

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Financial Times has an article about Psychiatry as New York’s counter-cyclical industry.  I’ve been saying this to my friends for a lark for a while (someone making conversation: ‘how’s your job’ me: ‘great, I get paid the same and everythings cheaper’ etc.) but thought that I should stop as I was clearly going to get lynched.

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Trainee psychiatrists charged £175 to query exam results (by RCPsych)
Boo!  Hiss!

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The Times has an article about children with an increasing number of psychiatric classifications Children suffering multiple behaviour problems ASD and ADHD apparently children today are getting ‘alphabet diagnoses’ because of their multiple behaviour problems. 

The reasons for this appear complex, but to my mind has something to do with our willingness to view everything in the light of ‘disorders’, rather than through a lens that would reveal more straightforward processes….

Your thoughts as ever are very welcome.

2 Responses to “Psychiatry in the news 17 February 2009 – cannabis special”

  1. Sarah says:

    I listened to a very well-researched piece on the radio a while back about cannabis and its effects on the mental health of drug users. They concluded that the most dangerous thing about cannabis is that people experiment with it at an age which is absolutely critical in neurological development -i.e. 11-18 year olds. In other words, otherwise mentally healthy adults who use cannabis are unlikely to develop a significant psychiatric disorder as a result, but people who use cannabis during adolescence do have a dramatically increased risk of developing psychosis or schizophrenia, because it interferes somehow with the massive changes and re-wiring that’s going on during adolescence. I will have to try and track the programme down, or the research that was in it.

    But yeah, personally I feel that I have enough mental health problems as it is without interfering with by brain with drugs, but if I was the sort of person to do so, there’s not much chance that advert would put me off. They don’t even mention the risk of developing psychosis or other serious mental health problems, or even any of the long-term effects. It’s absolute crap and I can’t believe they spent £2.2 million on it when that could easily have gone to a children’s hospital, or a new cancer drug or whatever.

  2. Oliver Smith says:

    I have read a lot of peer-reviewed articles on cannabis and its effects on mental health and have come to my own conclusions based on my readings. I’ve read articles saying that cannabis causes psychotic illnesses, articles that say it doesn’t cause psychotic illnesses and articles that conclude something in the middle. Overwhelmingly, they seem to conclude something in the middle and my conclusions come somewhere in the middle as well.

    As Sarah said above, it’s more to do with the stage of development your brain is at than anything else. The research I’ve read suggests that adolescents who use cannabis daily are around five time more likely to suffer depression and anxiety in later life.

    On the issue of Schizophrenia, I read reports on three major studies which followed large numbers of people over a number of years and produced very similar results and conclusions: that those who use cannabis have a higher than average risk of developing schizophrenia.

    About a year ago I wrote an entry on my own blog about Cannabis and Mental Health, the research I’ve read since then has not changed any of the conclusions I came to in that entry. In my view, cannabis does not necessarily cause psychotic illnesses (or other psychiatric problems), but does put the user at an increased risk of developing psychiatric problems in later life.

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