Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jan 2020
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2020 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Jayne O' Donnell


When Garrett Rigg moved from a "transitional living program" facility
near Chicago last month into a group home, it was a major milestone
for the 27-year-old, who traveled 1,000 miles from his home in Denver
to get treatment after a cannabis-induced psychotic break five years

Rigg had to leave his hometown because it lacked suitable long-term
treatment, according to his mother, Connie Kabrick. The three
marijuana dispensaries at the intersection a half block from her home
are the reason why she says he can't move

As marijuana increasingly becomes legalized, parents of children who
make up the mounting cases of cannabis-induced psychosis and other
mental illness say treatment is far less available than the pot they
say is linked to the conditions.

Many marijuana advocates question the strength of the science behind
warnings by federal and state public health officials. They say more
rigorous studies are needed to prove whether frequent use of
high-potency pot caused the mental illness or if it would have
occurred anyway.

Whether marijuana is the cause or the self-prescribed cure, the rise in 
psychosis, schizophrenia and suicide among young, heavy users comes amid a 
shortage in doctors and facilities to treat them. Parents describe spotty 
understanding of cannabis-induced mental illness and the best ways to treat 
it among doctors.

A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey found in 
2018 there were 3,752 substance abuse treatment programs that served 
adolescents. That's about 25% of the number available for adults as federal 
data shows marijuana use soaring among high school students.

Lori Robinson is the founder of Moms Strong, a group that works to educate 
people on the connection between marijuana, mental illness and suicide. Her 
son, Shane, died by suicide in 2012 after hospitalizations for

"It's hard to find someone who specializes in child psychiatry as well as 
addiction." Wun Jung Kim Child psychiatrist and professor, Rutgers University

psychosis in 2009 and 2011. She calls the treatment he received "horrendous."

It wasn't until 2013 that the Diagnostic Statistical Manual - the physicians' 
bible for recognized mental health conditions - added a 
"cannabis-use-disorder" section, which she says described Shane's conditions.

"American psychiatric facilities do not understand the severe brain impact 
from THC on some people, especially when my son was hospitalized," Robinson 
says. "I wish I believed their awareness was much better today, (but) I don't 
know of any outstanding rehab facility in the U.S. who understands 
cannabis-use-disorder/cannabis-induced-psychosis and how to help with 
long-lasting recovery."

Rutgers University opened an Adolescent Substance Evaluation Service in July 
at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The 
staff includes fellows in child and adolescent psychiatry who refer patients 
to providers or in the community.

Wun Jung Kim, a child psychiatrist and professor at the Rutgers medical 
school, estimates at least half of young people come in because of 
marijuana-related conditions. "It's hard to find someone who specializes in 
child psychiatry as well as addiction, and facilities for those kids are very 
limited," he says. "I don't think society takes use of marijuana seriously in 
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