Mental Health Care Fails at Addiction Treatment

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We’re facing a national tragedy of mental health misdiagnoses because American psychiatry is failing to treat root causes.  Too often young people with mental health symptoms are lumped into categories and given potent anti-depressants, benzodiazapines and/or neuroleptics, while the doctors or mental health treatment centers ignore symptoms of marijuana addiction and fail to treat the addiction.  In some cases, a psychotic episode is treated as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia rather than drug-induced psychosis.*

It may be time for widespread re-education of psychiatrists and emergency room physicians.

To avoid these tragedies, the patients need to be treated for substance abuse/addiction and get clean with drugs before a psychiatric assessment.**  It is disastrous when young minds — already modified by drug usage — are  immediately altered by other drugs, drugs not at all designed to counteract the effects of marijuana, cocaine, etc.

On a recent radio show, Dr. Drew Pinsky said “Addiction has to be treated before anything else can be assessed, let alone managed.   Somewhere about 75-80% of the psychiatric symptoms you present with will remit just by treating your addiction.”  He added, “Make no mistake, there is a withdrawal from cannabis, and it’s quite unpleasant.”   Dr. Drew likened it to opiate withdrawal–heavy users get much desperation, sleep disturbances and paranoia.

Dr. Drew Pinsky recently appeared on CNN with Nancy Grace
Dr. Drew Pinsky recently appeared on CNN with Nancy Grace

Many parents are unaware of their child’s drug usage, and some youth fear being honest about drug use/abuse/addiction.  It may feel safer to be treated for depression, bipolar etc., than give up the addiction. The high percentage of THC in today’s pot and “dabbing” are  causing young people to experience psychosis more than ever, and many psychiatrists and emergency rooms remain in the dark. Many practitioners in the psychiatric field are not following the DSM Manual,*** or keeping up with the studies on marijuana-psychosis.

Psychosis can affect 12-15% of marijuana users, and one in six who begin using marijuana before age 18 become addicted.   For the addicted, approximately 50% can have marijuana-induced psychotic symptoms.****   Addiction is indicated when the overuse of a substance results in negative consequences and the patient continues to use despite the consequences. Having  a marijuana-induced psychosis does not necessarily mean addiction, but marijuana is clearly an issue if your child resumes use after that incident.

Social pressure may be extreme where you live, so please consider how this problem will affect him/her in the social environment.  It would be wise to consider overall drug usage as a factor in choosing a college, or letting your child return to the college.

sad2Read more advice in Part 2.

* See Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic, 2010. On p. 180, he references studies to show that 33% to 66% of new bipolar cases resulted from marijuana and other drug usage.   See pp. 222-252 for the risks of medicating ADHD.

** We are not dismissing the fact that a child may start abusing drugs because of an underlying mental health issue, but we warn that cannabis will worsen symptoms.  About 25% of American teens describe themselves as being depressed.

*** Both the DSM IV and DSM V (released in 2014) guide the psychiatric field in making diagnoses.

****a constellation of psychotic symptoms and a high degree of severity need to occur before a diagnosis of full psychosis occurs.

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9 thoughts on “Mental Health Care Fails at Addiction Treatment”

  1. This is why people are unable to receive treatment for endocannabinoid deficiencies. I was hospitalized in high school at a facility after a suicide attempt. I had never used marijuana, didn’t do any drugs and had only tried alcohol a few times. I had 0 THC in my system. I have bipolar with schizophrenia diagnosed 2012. In high school it was never told by the psychiatrist any diagnosis. My Father, an MD, also has bipolar which he also suffered a psychotic break and even pulled a gun on my mother. He never used any illicit drugs at all. He beat me with a curling iron and then attacked my mom. He was hospitalized immediately. Both of us had the same psychiatrist. He was diagnosed as manic depressive now known as bipolar. He was hospitalized 1 year ago for depression again and he is close to 80. How are you able to make these claims as new studies from Raphael Mechoulam from the University of Haifa has been able to study the endocannabinoid system and the lack of anademide in patients with PTSD. Israel is allowing patients of PTSD to use cannabis to replace the missing or low levels of the Joy compound. Articles such as these and the claims are hindering any progress to effectively treat many disorders linked to deficient endocannabinoid systems. You are publishing material which is claiming addiction to marijuana. How is that different than me publishing an article that a diabetic should go into addiction treatment for insulin abuse?

    1. We are NOT talking about people who have family history of bipolar. We are talking about immediate, pot-induced psychosis, when THC is present in the system at the time the person is hospitalized. There are almost 1/2 million hospitalizations related to marijuana, sometimes mingled with alcohol and other drugs, per year in US. Furthermore, today’s youth does dabs and vapes, far more dangerous.
      A possibility that when you use so much pot that THC begins to replace your endogenous anandamide, that could possibly contribute to anandamide deficiency. The high potential for committing suicide is 6 months after quitting pot. We are aware of Raphael Mechoulam’s study. However, and this is a warning against looking at it this way: The chemical imbalance theory of mental illness has never been proven……..it is coming under attack from many quarters today. Otherwise, medications would work better than they do. Everyone in the medical fields knows is addictive, more so today with high THC content of marijuana today. Why would a researcher in the Netherlands say 80% of new schizophrenia cases are related to marijuana?

      We are sorry for your condition. The fact is that bipolar has expanded exponentially since marijuana has become commonplace, over the last 50 years.

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