Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2003
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2003 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Author: Tony White


MEDIA reports have linked the use of cannabis with the onset of 
schizophrenia.  The prevalence of schizophrenia is usually about one to 2 
per cent of the population.  The prevalence of a cannabis-use induced 
schizophrenia is only a fraction of that 2 per cent.

The symptoms of schizophrenia usually develop over months, if not 
years.  In this time before they are correctly diagnosed, the person can 
discover that the use of alcohol can reduce or numb the symptoms. Others 
find that prescription tranquillisers do the same.  Some use cannabis to 
self-medicate against the schizophrenic symptoms.

When the schizophrenia becomes obvious it is easy to concludee that the 
cannabis caused the schizophrenia.  It would be easy for a new stigma to 
evolve about schizophrenia.  People could start to think that "the person 
brought it on themselves because they smoked too much grass".  The last 
thing this group of very ill people need is an extra stigma.

TONY WHITE, North Perth (psychologist)
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