Marijuana Smokers with Certain Gene Variation More Vulnerable to Psychosis
Marijuana proponents tout the safety of using the drug. Yet, while some may be able to use it without experiencing a severe reaction, others who smoke marijuana may find themselves plunged into a serious mental health condition. The fact is that some who use marijuana develop psychosis. Now a recent study helps to explain why one person is at risk while another is not.
According to the study published in Biological Psychiatry and highlighted in a recent psychiatric posting, one particular gene variation holds the key to one person’s vulnerability over another’s. The gene AKT1 which is connected to dopamine signaling seems to be the culprit. Investigators examined 700 study participants and found that a slight variation in AKT1 was connected to a person’s likelihood of developing psychosis following marijuana use. This variant of the gene accounted for a doubling of the person’s risk for psychosis, and that risk shot up as much as seven times if the participant smoked marijuana on a daily basis.
Psychosis is a term for significant personality change. With psychosis a person’s thinking becomes clouded, their behavior becomes erratic and they experience a degrading of social skills. Eventually, the mundane duties of living become a challenge. Thus, for some people, marijuana use is anything but safe. Teens who use marijuana may put themselves in jeopardy of developing a psychotic condition like schizophrenia.
Researchers note that with the increased acceptance of marijuana use the potential for psychosis also climbs. Knowing that a variation of AKT1 is a risk factor may not help in assessing a person’s risk for psychosis in terms of testing, but it could prove very helpful in terms of improved treatment for those who are affected.