I was using all the time : One man s experience with cannabis and psychosis

I was using all the time : One man s experience with cannabis and psychosis
By the end of Grades 10 and 11, he was smoking marijuana every day, a habit that continued into his studies at the University of Ottawa.

I was using all the time and I couldnt wake up and go to class, he told It was every day, multiple times a day, as much as I could afford to.

Hed experienced his first bout of hallucinations when he smoked a joint at age 13, what he now considers foreshadowing of later episodes. At university, mood changes and worsening depression, a condition hed already dealt with for much of his life, became confounded by other symptoms. He experienced what is known as delusions of reference, when a neutral event or coincidence is believed to have personal significance.

One time I saw a cop car across the street and immediately thought The police are coming after me. Im going to jail, he recalled, adding that he was sober at the time. (Cannabis) kind of triggered something as far as I could tell.

After a suicide attempt brought Khamis to the hospital, he received the general diagnosis of psychosis, a symptom of several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, in which people have difficulty distinguishing between . Though much research is still needed in the area of cannabis-induced psychosis, Khamis has since stopped using the drug and works as a peer counsellor for people with psychosis. On Wednesday, he joined Dr. Robert Zipursky, a scientific adviser for the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, on CTVs Your Morning to bring awareness to the issue. Recent figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information suggest there has been a steady rise in cannabis-induced psychosis in recent years. While there is more research to be done, Zipursky said the links between cannabis and psychosis are becoming more clear.

We dont exactly know whos vulnerable. It seems like all of us are vulnerable, he said, but some people seem to be at increased risk.

Those subgroups include people with family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, those who use cannabis on a daily basis, and people who use high-potency forms of cannabis. Studies have shown that cannabis use can lead to acute psychosis that may dissipate within a few weeks, he said, but those who have experienced acute psychosis are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia.

People who develop an acute psychosis with cannabis have about a 50 per cent chance of ending up with schizophrenia in the long run, he said on Your Morning.

Khamis, who has received varying diagnoses including schizoaffective disorder, said his health has improved greatly since adopting a self-care routine and taking medications. Hes also very much in favour of the recent legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada.

Im fully on board. I think that having an open conversation around it where its not stigmatized is a big thing, he said. This opens up a pathway to more research.

Ilyas Khamis says he experienced cannabis-induced psychosis firsthand after developing a full-blown addiction by the time he was in university. (CTV)
Read more on CTVnews
News Topics :
Top Stories
Dr. Alan Zipursky, known as Zip to his colleagues, was among a group of researchers who developed a cure for rhesus disease, a potentially fatal newborn blood disorder, in the...
The research, published in the journal, Addiction, also showed for the first time that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that for patients who already have schizophrenia, cannabis makes their...
With marijuana now legalized in Canada, a mental health charity has predicted a significant increase in cannabis induced psychosis. The latest figures provided by the Canadian Institute for Health Information CIHI...
A new Addiction Biology study provides the first evidence of a blunted response to stress induced dopamine signaling in the brain s prefrontal cortex in individuals at high risk for psychosis...
Now, a team of researchers in the U.K. have found a way to identify which cannabis users are more at risk of developing such strong reactions. A variation of the...