Association between age at onset of psychosis and age at onset of cannabis use in non-affective psychosis.
ABSTRACT Several studies have associated cannabis use with the development of schizophrenia. However, it has been difficult to disentangle the effects of cannabis from that of other illicit drugs, as previous studies have not evaluated pure cannabis users. To test whether the onset of cannabis use had an effect on the initiation of psychosis, we examined the time relationship between onset of use and onset of psychosis, restricting our analysis to a cohort of individuals who only used cannabis and no other street drugs.
Fifty-seven subjects with non-affective psychoses who used cannabis prior to developing a psychosis were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS). The Family Interview for Genetic Studies (FIGS) was also used to interview a family informant about psychiatric illness in the patient and the entire family. Multiple linear regression techniques were used to estimate the association between variables.
After adjusting for potential confounding factors such as sex, age, lifetime diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence, and family history of schizophrenia, the age at onset of cannabis was significantly associated with age at onset of psychosis (β=0.4, 95% CI=0.1-0.7, p=0.004) and age at first hospitalization (β=0.4, 95% CI=0.1-0.8, p=0.008). The mean time between beginning to use cannabis and onset of psychosis was 7.0±4.3. Age at onset of alcohol use was not associated with age at onset of psychosis or age at first hospitalization.
Age at onset of cannabis is directly associated with age at onset of psychosis and age at first hospitalization. These associations remain significant after adjusting for potential confounding factors and are consistent with the hypothesis that cannabis could cause or precipitate the onset of psychosis after a prolonged period of time.