Hi I am a 21-year-old male student. Recently I smoked weed for second time in my life. I smoked more than what I smoked during my first time. I inhaled the smoked fully 6 times and then I started experiencing auditory hallucination like hearing people laugh when no one was there. Then I also heard song playing which was actually not playing. It got over after 2-3 hours. But now I am really scared that I might get schizophrenia in future. Because I have a family history of schizophrenia but not my parents and siblings but my cousin and his father. I got this fear because I read on internet that only those people predisposed to schizophrenia will experience these symptoms after smoking weed. And the weed was not mixed other substances. And I did not have any psychotic symptoms before that. Please response.

The research on whether or not cannabis causes schizophrenia is mixed. Scientists debate about causality. Generally speaking, individuals who use marijuana have a greater risk of having psychotic episodes than individuals who do not smoke marijuana. Psychosis involves a break with reality. Having a psychotic episode does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop schizophrenia, but it significantly increases the chances.

Some research also indicates that each psychotic break damages the brain. That may be why it can take more medication to stabilize an individual after each psychotic break. You want to do everything in your power to avoid having psychotic breaks. That means not using drugs.

The added concern about marijuana is its high potency levels. There’s a difference between the old and new cannabis. Levels of THC are much higher in the marijuana that’s available today than in years past. The higher the potency, the greater the potential for damage and detrimental outcomes.

In addition to high potency levels, street drugs are dangerous, in part, because there are no checks and balances on ingredients. For instance, in an effort to expand their supply, dealers might add dangerous and toxic cutting agents such as rat poison, detergent, fentanyl, and so forth. With street drugs, there is no quality control. You simply don’t know what you’re getting.

It’s safer not to use marijuana, especially given your family history. Having a family history of schizophrenia increases the probability of developing schizophrenia among offspring but it does not guarantee the development of the disorder.

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder that is not well understood. Genetics are a factor and so is environment and other social and neurobiological considerations. Some research has indicated that if your parent has a serious mental illness, the risk of developing a serious mental illness among offspring is about one in 10. Newer research has indicated that the chances of developing serious mental illness among offspring is as much as one in three or one in two, of developing any mental disorder. Thus, if the disorder runs in your family, it’s important to be especially protective of your mental health. Therefore, you should strongly reconsider your use of illicit drugs.

You had a negative experience and you seemed to recover. As you said, it only lasted two or three hours. You are fortunate. I have received letters from individuals who have used marijuana and who did not recover as quickly as you did. Some had symptoms that remained with them in the form of anxiety, depersonalization and derealization. Thankfully that didn’t happen to you.

This may seem rather obvious but it needs to be said: you should stop using marijuana. Make that your last time. It would be wise to quit while you are ahead. The more you use it, the greater the risk of brain damage. It’s dangerous to use illicit drugs, of any kind. Stay safe and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle