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Vaping ‘significantly’ associated with psychotic experiences in U.S. college students: study

A new U.S. study reports that college students who vaped either tobacco or cannabis were more likely to report psychotic experiences.

Both cigarette and marijuana use has been linked to psychotic experiences, notes the study, published online this week in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Any links between vaping and psychotic episodes, however, have not been as explored. Although the association attenuated, it remained statistically significant “even after adjusting for any cigarette use and marijuana use and after adjusting for depression and anxiety,” investigators write.

Looking at the September to December 2020 period of the Healthy Minds Survey, investigators reviewed data for 29,232 students from 36 universities throughout the U.S. to examine any associations between vaping over the past 30 days and psychotic experiences over the past 12 months.

Researchers point out that about 14 per cent of the students reported psychotic experiences over the past year, a percentage in line with the estimated 14 to 15 per cent of participants who said they vaped over the past month. They are recommending that more prospective studies are needed to examine any association between vaping and psychotic experiences.

The National Institutes of Health reported last fall “vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine rose sharply in the past three years among college-age (19-22 years old) adults.” Those who had vaped in the past 30 days rose from 5.2 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent in 2019, note 2019 results from the Monitoring the Future study.

“Many young people may view vaping and cannabis use as ‘safer’, but the reality is that nicotine is highly addictive, and cannabis can also be addictive, particularly in younger adults for whom the brain is still developing,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, M.D., director of National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Per Our Midland, Dr. Chad Percifield explored vaping THC and psychotic disorders in a study. Citing research that shows individuals who consume THC are three times as likely to develop a psychotic disorder as those who do not partake, Dr. Percifield told the publication that “vaping solutions increase this risk more than six-fold due to the potency of the vaping solution, which on average contains 52 per cent THC versus the 13 per cent THC contained in the marijuana flower.”

A letter published last year in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry detailed a case involving a previously well individual experiencing “ultra-acute onset of severe, persisting and unusual psychotic symptoms” after vaping weed for the first time.

Another case report released in 2020, this time looking at nicotine vaping, involved a young man with multiple medical comorbidities and chronic cannabis use. He “experienced acute agitation with hallucinations in the context of quitting his vape pen ‘cold turkey’ or abruptly discontinuing use without a nicotine replacement,” the report states.

Angela Stelmachowich/Regina Leader Post