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Higher risk of psychosis for skunk users

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 Higher risk of psychosis for skunk users

Regular users of skunk are seven times more likely to suffer from illnesses such as schizophrenia, compared to those who take traditional hash, according to a new report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Skunk is the most powerful form of cannabis sold on the street and according to Dr Marta Di Forti and Prof Robin Murray who conducted the study, and is now the one that is easiest for young people to obtain.

The study by Institute of Psychiatry in London followed 280 people who were admitted to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with a first episode of psychosis, and compared them with 174 healthy people from the area.

It found that those who used skunk were seven times more likely to develop psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, compared to regular users of cannabis.

Professor Murray said: “In the last five to six years it has been established that there is a link between heavy cannabis consumption and psychosis, but there is a lot of argument about how important it is,”

He added that most cannabis users remain healthy, but he pointed out that the growing trade of skunk, which contains 18% THC, the ingredient that is believed to trigger psychosis, compared with about 4% in traditional cannabis resin.

Dr Forti said that 80% of cannabis found on the street in south-east London was skunk and that people who use skunk do not necessarily appreciate the level of its toxicity.

Those in the study who had admitted to psychotic attacks said that they heard voices and had paranoid illusions, such as believing that other people were conspiring against them.

It is believed that around 1% of the population suffer psychosis at some time in their life.

Studies have shown the risk of psychosis doubles in those who use cannabis on only a few occasions.

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