The Green Mile – A Mental Health Therapist’s Clinical Experience With Client Marijuana Use
Written By Robert Glenn Kaminsky MC, Registered Provisional Psychologist
I have watched with great interest the implosion of misinformation within our population on sound reason and common sense related to the decriminalization and potential legalization of marijuana.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 (DSM-V) (2013) has recently published prevalence rates for substance use and specific disorders in the general population – first-episode psychosis (7-25%),depressive disorder (11%), bipolar disorder (13%), obsessive compulsive disorder (19%), anxiety disorder (24%),internalizing disorders [including anxiety, depression and post traumatic disorder] (33%), and externalizing disorders [including conduct, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity]. Up to 80% of individuals receiving treatment for another substance use disorder reported previous use of cannabis (DSM-V,2013).
Research submitted by Australian professionals (Large M. “Cannabis Use and Earlier Onset of Psychosis,” Archives of General Psychiatry, Feb. 7, 2011), revealed an earlier onset of psychoses by 3 years in individuals having reported previous use of marijuana. Andreasson, Engstrom, Allcbeck, et al. (1987) and Hall and Degenhardt (2000) confirmed that marijuana `s use contributed to the development or worsening of mental health conditions. Most revealing is cancer research carried out by Daling et al. (2009) reporting that men diagnosed with nonseminoma testicular growth cell cancer were more than 2 times more likely to be current users of marijuana at the time of the diagnoses.
In my current position as a mental health therapist working with men and women aged 18 to 65 years old, 9 clients previously diagnosed with one of the schizophrenic spectrum disorders report current or previous use of marijuana. My resolve is bolstered by both my clinical experience and the vast body of literature showing marijuana’s consistent role in the development and maintenance of severe mental health symptoms in individuals vulnerable to symptom development.